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Aug 21, 2007 11:10 AM

"NY" Pizza Binge

I was going down La Cienega this Sunday and saw the much talked about Vito's. I've never been there, so I decided to check it out. They were taking out a cheese pizza out of the oven just as I walked in - perfect. I got a slice. It was good. Got into a little conversation with Vito, he's heard about this board and the internet rumors that he serves the best pizza - but he seems to be pretty confident in that opinion without anyone telling him :).

So anyways, I decided to do a little comparison. Over the next 2 hours I ate a slice of cheese at the following places:

Village Pizzeria
Mulberry St. Pizza (On Beverly Dr. between Wilshire and Olympic)
Frankie & Johnnie's NY Pizza (On San Vicente)
Lamonica's (Westwood)
D'Amore's (on Westwood Blvd)

In each slice i considered 1) Crust 2) Cheese and 3) Sauce

Best Crust:
Mulberry St. Pizza - It had the most flavor. It was soft and cutable yet still crunchy. Most importantly the crust itself tasted great even without the cheese and the sauce.

A close second here is Vito's, which I would say is neck and neck. I think Mulberry's crust was just _slightly_ thicker and meatier, so this may come down to personal preference.

Best Cheese:
Vito's. Had the most flavor. Definitely high quality. There wasn't too much of it, but it was just enough for the crust and the sauce and melded perfectly to create just the right taste balance.

Best Sauce:
Tie: Vito's and Mulberry. Mulberry is more spicy, Vito's is a little more subtle. All other sauces were either tasteless or just very salty compared to these two.


About each place:

Lamonica's in Westoowd was the only truly bad slice that i've had. Horrible, worse than subway bread. I think i'd prefer ketchup to the sauce, and the cheese was overwhelming (huge amount of it), and tasted pretty bad. A disgusting grease bomb it was. The ambience of the place was also the worst. Felt like eating in a public restroom.

Frankie & Johnnie's had the worst bread. Completely tasteless. It had more cheese than any other slice save Lamonica's, but it wasn't too bad. I found it filling without being too overwhelming. The sauce was too big on salt and too little on flavor. Overall not a disaster, but just bland compared to the other slices. Really just an average pizza.

D'Amore's had the worst crust after Lamonica's and F&J's. Very dry. Overall a pretty tasteless piece of pizza. I would probably rank it under F&J's now that I think about it. The sauce was slightly better, so maybe that saves it. It was also considerably lighter than F&J's. This might have been the lightest piece i've had, which may have to do with it's flavorlessness. Their menus actually tout the low fat and carb content in a side by side comparison with some national chains. This place had the best ambiance though. If i had to sit down at a pizza place, it would be either here or the Village Pizzeria.

Damiano's had the worst cheese. Probably fourth after Vito's, Mulberry's and Village Pizzeria. The crust was too tough (not cutable) and not very flavorful. Sauce a little on the salty side, but not too bad. Overall a decent slice, with the cheese however really bringing it down. Nice selection of beers, but other than that, the place feels like a dive bar of the worst kind :).

Village Pizzeria was great overall. The crust was the let down here. It was thin and felt too much like the washed out subway bread. It really tasted differently from the other crusts, so maybe some people would prefer it. Almost like sourdough without the sourness, if that makes any sense. The sauce was definitely heavy on the salt. It was the most "tomatoey" and salty of all. Not to the point of ruining the slice though. Both this and Mulberry's have the strongest tasting sauces, but whereas Mulberry's sauce is spicy and flavorful, this one was mostly just salty. Overall a great slice of pizza though. I would rank the Village Pizzeria 3rd behind Vito's and Mulberry.

Mulberry is the most expensive, but disregarding price I would probably order a full pizza here than any place else. I'm a fan of spicy food, and the slightly thicker, richer crust it has compared to Vito's. Comparing all these slices side by side though you really get to see how different they are. The slice here really tasted significantly better than all other places, save Vito.

Vito's has really good pizza. Pretty bad ambience. They do have both wine and beer, but very poor selections of both. That's their major down side. For the pizza purist, this is probably the place to go. Best combination of crust, cheese and sauce that create a great total taste. Both Mulberry's and Vito's also have the best non-plain cheese pizzas as well.

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  1. Great idea! My friends and I did this as well, but our list grew to 32 places over the course of a weekend. We got pretty much the same results you did. The question to you now is... do you have an aversion to the thought of pizza right now like we did?:)

    1. i actually like lamonica's.

      " A disgusting grease bomb it was. The ambience of the place was also the worst. Felt like eating in a public restroom."

      have you ever been to ny? you pretty much summed up the pizza & the ambience. but that's the charm. it's not really ny pizza unless orange grease runs down your arm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: woofer

        It wasn't about the grease. All slices had at least some of that (with D'Amores having least and Frankie and Johnnies having most). It was about the bread, cheese, and the quality of the sauce. I'm sorry, but to my taste buds it was just bad, wet dog kind of taste.

        And mrshanky, yes i've put myself on a week long diet after that Sunday :)

      2. How do you "drop in for a slice" at any of the places you mention? Does Vito's have free parking? Did you just luck into a slot for Lamonica's or D'amore's or use the Broxton structure in Westwood, or have one person go in while the other circles? Slices vs. pies, which are usually delivered. No foot traffic in L.A. to provide anywhere near the turnover of NY pizza by the slice.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          Vito's has a small lot but it is free.

          1. re: nosh

            I drop in for a slice, sandwich and Bread Sticks at Vito's and have always found parking in the free lot. My lads used to love Lamonica's in Westwood before discovering the old Vito's nead LACC and during his extended absence until he opened up in W. Hollywood. We still go there on occasion and have never spent more than 4 or 5 minutes looking for a street or alley (behind Helen's Cycles) parking spot.

          2. dunno about the westside location, but the downtown lamonica's is fantastic.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ns1

              I thought that what used to be Lamonica's downtown had changed names/owners/recipes, for the worse. Definitely not up to "Next Door Pizza" or even Big Mama's-Papa's.

              r gould-saltman

              1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                I work right by next door pizza/big mama's, and I make the walk all the way down to lamonica's. big mama/papas crust has absolutely no texture and is absurdly greasy. next door pizza (for me) is pretty inconsistent. cheese/sauce is good, hate the crust. lamonica's has been the most consistent for me, except it's pretty bad when you get there later (2-3pm)

                1. re: ns1

                  M&P's crust, I've found, is only accpetable on pies which are not overloaded, and only as they come right out of the oven; they don't hold well. I've actually found Next Door more consistent, although again, how long a slice has been out of the oven is critical (I seem to inevitably arrive when the last remaining slice of the previous vege pizza has been there a while, and is looking (how can I put, this) weary, and I'll always wait, or go back to my office, or something, until the new pie cmes out, rather than take the runt.

                  r gould-saltman

                  1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                    haha, where do you work? I'm on the 8th/fig office building above Roys. Next Door is okay during lunch when it's nice and hot, but I find the crust a lil flimsy for me. After 2pm or so and then IMO it becomes hard cracker like. Good cheese/sauce, but bad texture for me and a little more oily than I'd like.

                    I gave B&M 1 shot and was so disgusted that I went to Lamonica's the day after. Not to mention I found it horribly overpriced. I always get to Lamonica's around 1210-1215, right after the first wave of lunchtime pizza's is done and 2nd wave is coming out, so I suppose that factors into my consistency with them.

                    however, I do dig Next Door's counterpart, Nazo's, quite a bit.

            2. Actaully I had D'Amores's & Mulberry this past weekend. Mulberry won hand's down. Had not been to D'Amores in awhile but ordered it and thought it the sauce was bland and the crust mediocre. I know there is a health kick with low fat & carbs but I think it take's away from the flavor. Mulberry felt like salvation after D'Amores. The sauce had flavor and the crust was good. I felt like I actually had pizza again. Will not return to D'Amores.