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REVIEW w/ pics: Vito's Pizza

pleasurepalate Dec 13, 2007 10:41 PM

When the buzz first started several months back about Vito's Pizza being resurrected, there was an air of excitement amongst pizza aficionados of the likes I haven't seen in a very long time. I wondered what was so special about Vito's Pizza. Apparently, it's a pizza joint that serves what many consider the closest thing to New York pizza in the Los Angeles area. My curiosity aroused, I was happy that my friend planned an outing for a group of us to check this place out.

As soon as you step through the doors of this tiny place, you're confronted with a large photo of Vito himself, leaving room for no doubt that this was his domain. Walking past the glass cases, I was amazed at how large the pizzas were. Those suckers were 18" round pies. These were definitely not made for the solo diner, unless you ordered by the slice, which was something you could do if you so desired. They'd even cook your slice to order which is a much better option than getting a slice of pizza after it's been sitting under a heat lamp for an hour or two or more.

Soon we sat down and perused the menu and let me tell, everything looked so good that it took awhile to settle on the two we finally did order. Our choices were Vito's Terra Firma which had sausage, pepperoni, olives, peppers, onions and mushrooms and the Pizza Margherita whose ingredients were simply tomato, basil and mozzarella.

The Vito's Terra Firma came first and was placed on top of a large can and let me tell you, I think the manager was surprised to see half of our group of 6 swarming around the pizza taking photos. The Pizza Paparazzi definitely made its presence known. See what happens when food bloggers dine together. Hehehe!

After our pics were taken, we sat down to enjoy our first taste of the Terra Firma. So I took a slice, folded it, just like I've seen New Yorkers do it on TV and took a bite and then another bite and another bite. Unfortunately, I found the crust, though thin, was more doughy and chewy than I would have liked. I was disappointed. I was looking for pizza dough that was crispy and crusty and I just didn't get that with either of the two pizzas we had for our meal.

I did enjoy the sauce and the abundance of toppings. What I really appreciated was that all the veggies on the Terra Firma weren't cooked to oblivion. They were fresh and crunchy. One thing that was surprising was that I almost forgot that sausage was part of the ingredients. The fact that the sausage was so forgettable wasn't too surprising considering how bland it tasted and the pepperoni also needed more zing. In short, I think the veggies were more of a star on this pizza than either of the meats.

Soon, the Pizza Margherita arrived and after another round of the Pizza Paparazzi doing its thing, it was time to sample this next offering. I wanted to enjoy eating this pizza, but I was less than impressed. The mozzarella part of the pizza was great, but I thought the tomatoes should have been juicier and I found the basil leaves, which normally has a distinct flavor, to be blah. We might as well have just ordered a cheese pizza because neither the tomatoes nor basil added any pizzazz to this pie.

After that one experience there, Vito's is definitely not a destination pizza place for me. The crust, as I mentioned, was a disappointment, but what was also missing for me were the bold flavors my palate tends to steer towards. Both pies that we sampled just didn't have the oooomph I was looking for. Even the Good Friday Pizza I took home for the family, which had ingredients like garlic, clams, oregano and crushed red pepper, still didn't do it for me.

Overall, if I was in the neighborhood or with a group of friends who really wanted to dine at Vito's, I wouldn't mind stopping by, but would I make an hour drive from the Eastside? No. There are just too many other better pizza options for me out there.

To see pics, go to:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_addic...

Vito's Pizza
846 N La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 652-6859

Thanks,
Abby
http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/

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  1. k
    karamazov RE: pleasurepalate Dec 14, 2007 07:36 AM

    Just had a slice of pepperoni and a slice of the white pizza at joe's yesterday. It's good basic pizza, but it's not amazing food by any stretch of imagination. It's just pizza that's not bad. I prefer Mulberry to both joe's and vito's. Better sauce and better toppings. While crust and cheese are important, i think all three places nail those two just fine. But the amount and the taste of sauce and ingredients are better at mulberry st. As a side note, i'm not a nostalgic new yorker looking for the pizza of my childhood, just something that tastes good :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: karamazov
      b
      Burger Boy RE: karamazov Dec 14, 2007 07:40 AM

      Which Mulberry Street, because when I went to the BH one a few years back, it was average at best. I am a Vito's, Petrillos, Zelo & Steffano's 2 Guys on Hollywood for a straight up cheese slice.

      1. re: Burger Boy
        k
        karamazov RE: Burger Boy Dec 14, 2007 09:03 AM

        I've had a number of slices over the past 6 months, all from the BH location. Again, while there is value in comparing pizza places on the basis of the straight up cheese slice, when I want pizza i want something more than just that. The crust, cheese and sauce are the most important ingredients and the most difficult to get right, but once these are well executed, you still need some actual toppings to make what I would consider a truly tasty dish. That's just my perspective. All three places do pretty well with the basics, except I like the sauce at mulberry better - it's spicier and has more character. On the quality and variety of what comes after that, mulberry is also better.

        I've also tried two calzones at Vito's. They are good and huge. However most of the size is the bread and I think they don't put enough filling. For both calzones I pretty much had to transfer the contents of one half to the other to really get the ratio right, otherwise all I was tasting was bread. For a $16 calzone I do expect better.

    2. s
      sel RE: pleasurepalate Dec 14, 2007 08:13 AM

      Taste is so subjective but for me and my lads Vito acheives excellance with a simple Cheese or White Pie Slice (I do add Fresh Garlic, my lads do not). I order them a little extra done so that the crust crisps up and has a slight 'scorch' and for us this is the best S. Cal. pizza, N.Y. or otherwise! His made to order Breadsticks with olive oil and fresh garlic are wonderful, not to be missed! I tried the Eggplant Parmagana Sandwich once after reading here that it was Vito's favorite and even though it was my first and only sandwich of this type I will say that it was damm tasty, just come really hungry, I was stuffed!

      I have not yet been to Joe's of Blecker St./Santa Monica or Pizzeria Mozza, they are on my list though.

      1. j
        Jack Flash RE: pleasurepalate Dec 14, 2007 12:04 PM

        Your group probably made a mistake in choosing a pizza with so many toppings. To get a real sense of a pizza, you really need to limit yourself to just one or two toppings, at most. Otherwise, it's just toppings on some bread. No wonder the crust was a disappointment.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Jack Flash
          Servorg RE: Jack Flash Dec 14, 2007 12:10 PM

          They also had a pizza Margherita.

          1. re: Jack Flash
            r
            rameniac RE: Jack Flash Dec 14, 2007 01:15 PM

            i had a loaded pepperoni, sausage, salami slice at vito's, and also a simple prosciutto slice, and the chewy crust with the leathery bottom wasn't to my liking either time.

            joe's still has the better crust. vito's has the better toppings and cheese.

            1. re: rameniac
              ElJeffe RE: rameniac Dec 16, 2007 10:18 AM

              Rameniac - I agree completely. Joe's vs. Vito's is simply a personal preference. They both have strengths and weaknesses.

            2. re: Jack Flash
              pleasurepalate RE: Jack Flash Dec 14, 2007 01:21 PM

              Well, actually we did order the Pizza Margherita and even with just two toppings, I wasn't overly thrilled with the crust either on that pizza.

              1. re: pleasurepalate
                i
                Itslikeimsayin RE: pleasurepalate Dec 14, 2007 01:37 PM

                I was there last night (my third trip there, twice in the last few weeks) and I love it. I disagree with describing the crust as having a "leathery" bottom. I think it has a perfect little crunch that gives way to a rather chewy, yet soft bread inside.

                I do wonder if they can achieve that same crisp edge/soft inside on a pizza that is made to order. I've only ordered from the slice offerings. Last night it was one pesto with that great ricotta on it and one terra firma.

                1. re: Itslikeimsayin
                  wutzizname RE: Itslikeimsayin Dec 14, 2007 02:33 PM

                  when it comes to pizza, chewy = leathery = wrong.

            3. r
              RSMBob RE: pleasurepalate Dec 14, 2007 04:28 PM

              I finally made my first visit to Vito's new place Wed night. I had been an occasional regular at the old place, usually before Dodgers games, but now living in South OC, neither place is exactly convenient.

              Overall, I agree with your assessment...the pizza is good, even very good, but not mind-blowingly great or special. The place is rather cramped for dine-in but having Vito and others around is a special part of the atmosphere there...at least he gives a darn about what he is doing.

              I thought the pizza there was pretty expensive for what you get, but it certainly is tasty and a good representative of what a NY-style pizza should be.

              1. n
                nosh RE: pleasurepalate Dec 17, 2007 01:03 AM

                Thanks for the pix. I noticed on the terra firma that the pizza was loaded with vegies, but they all looked still raw after cooking. No color at all on the onions, peppers, or 'shrooms. And I could barely detect any sausage or pepperoni. It looked like the whole pie was undercooked, and from your critique you would have liked more crunch in the crust. Maybe the secret at Vito's is to order extra done and crispy.

                All said, I'd still order from my local fave, Lamonica's in Westwood. Big, cheesy, saucy, lots of pepperoni and sausage, yes pretty greasy. Admittedly the crust is limper than I'd prefer. But slices crisped up on a preheated castiron skillet in a hot oven under the broiler come out bubbly and crunchy.

                3 Replies
                1. re: nosh
                  j
                  jay 1 RE: nosh Dec 29, 2007 11:38 PM

                  after reading so much about vito's i finally got there tonight. while the starting point for all comments is "taste is subjective", particularly with pizza, burgers and donuts, i'm sad to say vito's pizza was no where. had the cheese, white and garibaldi. the white was good, but the cheese & sauce based pizza was very disappointing. crust was ok, and the rest was almost tasteless. i had a delicious pizza at zucca the other day, but for your basic slice o' pizza, i'll go to la monicas, if i can't get to eagle rock.

                  1. re: jay 1
                    s
                    Snoopy RE: jay 1 Dec 30, 2007 12:30 PM

                    Funny you mention that it was almost tasteless. I ate there yesterday and had cheese slices and my immediate reaction was that they had no real taste. I hadn't been to Vito's in a few months (enjoyed it on my prior visits and went out of my way to go there) and was really disappointed. Don't know if I'll bother going back.

                    1. re: Snoopy
                      s
                      sloanedone RE: Snoopy Dec 30, 2007 08:46 PM

                      I live a couple blocks from Vito's and have been there at least a couple dozen times. Service, slice size, and taste have really started to vary some. I still think it's great pizza, but I find myself driving to Joe's in SM if I'm in the mood for a really great pie.

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