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Cristoni Pizzeria - Double Bust

I checked this new place out because the restaurant blog said the pizza chef came from Naples and trained at Da Michele, which is one of the originators of the pizza style I most love -- think Antica, not Vitos.

Well, bust 1 was when I saw the deck ovens, no wood-burning. There was a guy making pizzas but he did not look Italian.

And the margarita pie was 2 notches above inedible. Tough and leathery crust, non-descript cheese and sauce. A real jaw workout for no payoff.

I usually don't write about first impressions but I really don't see the pizza changing that drastically to the point where it will take on the deck oven places like Terroni, no less Naples.

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  1. Here is the press release i found:

    Cristoni Pizzeria boasts an extensive menu of classic Neapolitan style pies created under the direction of Enrico Sautto, a 4th generation Pizzaolo who was trained in the traditional methods of pizza making at his family’s world-renowned pizzeria - Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples, Italy.

    Which means that the menu was created by a guy from Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, not that he is working here. It also does not mean he oversaw the training and execution of the recipes. I learned a long time ago to read between the lines.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Burger Boy

      He created the menu? Margarita pizza. Pepperoni. Wow, he must be creative...

      I thought some of the Naples flair might rub off, but alas, none.

      1. re: Adsvino

        Maybe they were shooting for Naples, LB?

          1. re: Adsvino

            Why on earth nobody does fugazzetas ???


            Or even better, fugazzeta rellena ( with the mozarella INSIDE the dough)????


            1. re: RicRios

              I will take 2 for here and 6 togo, for the freezer. Why on earth does no one make one like that. Fahgetaboutit!

              1. re: RicRios

                Looks like Chicago stuffed crust pizza......how does it differ.

                1. re: RicRios

                  Fugazzetta is Argentine in origin, which is why Italian-run pizzerias tend not to have it. Locally, you can find pizza fugazetta at Damiano's Mr. Pizza on Fairfax and at the Mercado Buenos Aires in Van Nuys.

                  1. re: RicRios

                    The best fugazetta in town is at Carniceria Argentino (or Alex's Meat Market) on Victory just west of Lankershim in NoHo. You have to order ahead because they make them custom, but they stuff the crust with meat. They prefer pepperoni, but I prefer prosciutto. They're fantastic!

                    The meats there are amazing, too. Hand-cut beef to your specifications at half the supermarket prices.

            2. re: Burger Boy

              This is picture of a pizza from Da Michele:

              Go to Cristoni and see if the margarita looks like this.....

                1. re: Burger Boy

                  Yep. That pizza is so good the sauce and cheese are pointless--the crust is to die for. I couldn't even DIGEST the crust at Cristonis.

            3. Thanks for taking one for the team.

              I saw it promoted, I mean mentioned on the official Primo Corporation newswire, I mean that eating blog. They've already got a guy holding a sign blocking west bound traffic on Sunset, it doesn't matter what they serve, there's a certain demographic that will eat there anyway.

              What is with all the site-seeing tour busses, parking & advertising sign-holding people holding up traffic? With all the congestion it seems like the city would curb that activity.

              1. bumer, i got an email from Urban Daddy yesterday advertising this new *great* pizza place... too bad it didn't live up to billing... i may try it yet anyways, but thanks for the heads-up to expect little...

                fwiw, was the pizza thin crusted enough? how was the sauce and toppings, in terms of quality for what you had?

                5 Replies
                1. re: Emme

                  I spoke to the pizza chef last night - not his menu - not his ovens - not his idea of pizza - unfortunately he's not the boss.......
                  He is who they say he is - but he has no control - it's pretty sad.

                  1. re: shebop

                    Man, they must be paying him some serious money for him to stick around then. If they are hyping him so much, I wonder why he had no say so in the ovens and the recipes? Interesting? Is this how restaurant groups do business, just hype and hype?

                    1. re: Burger Boy

                      The ovens were already in when he arrived - owners feel that Los Angelenos won't understand a more "Italian" menu - ARRRGGGHHH.
                      He moved here from Florida - we'll see how long he stays. Really nice guy.

                      1. re: shebop

                        Oh yeah, we angelenos don't know good, authentic Italian food. wtf.

                        LOL "Not his idea of pizza"

                      2. re: Burger Boy

                        There is hype and there is quality. If you are in Beverly Hills, on the Strip or Hwood Blvd, you need hype. If you are on Beverly Blvd or Culver City, you need quality. Yet there is only so much you can hype pizza, I would let the Naples guy do his thing.

                  2. Tried a couple slices. It's not entirely awful. Canned sauce for sure. Crust had a better texture than what I heard, but an odd wheaty taste. Maybe he's using dough that should be cooked at a higher temp. Cheese didn't cut through the sauce. Sausage was tasty, but that taste overshadowed the rest of the slice. With all that said it's better than some others in the neighborhood (North End, Tomato Pie) but it gets massacred by the big dogs (Vito's, Joe's, Mozza is in another state from it). That little twit from Entourage was there...eating a salad of course. I'm going to try a whole pie and make a final decision after that.

                    5 Replies
                      1. re: Burger Boy

                        3rd I think--isn't that the Boston style pizza place. Can someone tell me what Boston style pizza is?

                          1. re: RicRios

                            Nope--pizza in a Boston, MA style, not the Boston chain.

                            Anyway, speaking of new pizza experiences, I schlepped out to Monterey Park at lunch to try Bollini's the other day, which was only one notch above Cristonis, and that with a woodburning oven.

                            Honestly, the only game in town for my beloved VPN pizza is Antica. Kinda sad.

                            1. re: Adsvino

                              Went back to Cristoni and had a whole pie. Crust was burned black, the rest was soggy. I'll go back if I'm on Sunset at 3AM, but then again I'm not 22 and obnoxious so I doubt that will happen.

                    1. Did they change dough recipes? Perhaps after all this critique.....

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Adsvino

                        They may have changed it after reading your original post. Maybe you can go back and give is a second report;o)

                        1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                          I'll see if my stomach can handle it.....still digesting the last go.

                          1. re: Adsvino

                            aaaahhh, come on, take one for the team again;o)

                            Mostly, I want to see if my tastebuds are dead or not! I

                            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                              Pizza is my forte, and even post-mozza I think LA sorely lacks in the real Naples or VPN pizza, my favorite. Only Antica passes muster, where a smaller city like DC has several great options. As for NY pizza, LA is fine, as Vito's, Damianos, Village, Mulberry all rock (don't like Joe's--too crispy thin and jagged, too severe--a NY slice needs to be crisp yet oiled and lubricated).

                              INHO Bollini sucks, Mozza is not pizza but a topped flatbread derivative. Honestly, Cristoni has slim to no change of entering the big leauges, but I will go by and report back (though I may not eat if things look awry). ad-

                              1. re: Adsvino

                                I did go back and ordered a whole pizza to go and it was pretty bad. It was soggy and just didn't taste that great. The reason may have been it got steamed in the box, but I couldn't get to crisp up even after putting it in the oven. I won't be going back. I guess I should have just listened to Adsvino in the first place;o)

                            2. re: Adsvino

                              aaah, come on, take one for the team;o)

                              Mostly, I want to see how my tastebuds are for pizza. I know Japanese food, but pizza I'm still an amateur!

                        2. I'm not an expert on pizza, but when I went to Cristoni for lunch about 2 weeks
                          ago I thought it was good. I had a slice of pepperoni and a Caesar salad. I liked
                          the crispness of the crust and the flavors overall. The salad was nothing special, but fine.

                          All the people were very nice there too. Sometimes I'm a klutz and I spilled
                          my coke all over my pizza even before I could take a bite. They were very accommodating and gave me a new slice without a problem. I do live only about 5 mins from Cristoni, so it is a convenient location for me. I don't think I'd make a special drive out to it.

                          I went to Vito's when they first opened and liked the pizza, but last time about
                          a month ago it tasted a little too salty for me.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                            I could not agree with OP more.

                            I have eaten Cristoni over 10 times, my buddy always orders it during our poker game.

                            The pepperoni and plain cheese pies are average at best, maybe 2 star if Totino's frozen pizza is a 1.

                            So why do I give it one star?

                            GET THIS:

                            When you any type of custom pizza, they take a fully cooked cheese pizza...

                            AND PUT YOUR TOPPINGS ON IT *AFTER* IT IS COOKED!

                            This is just gross.

                            Laziness taken to this extremity is hard for me to even comprehend. I'm sure they save a little time and money not preparing a custom pizza, but come on, hot cheese pizza with luke warm ham and mushrooms thrown on top?

                            What kind of operation is this?

                            You are CRAZY to spend your money here with the other options around (Vito's, Johnnie's, etc.)... unless you like hot pizza with cold toppings.

                            Maybe it's a new trend I don't know about?

                            Regardless, it will be interesting to see if they can survive on location alone, because they really don't have anything else going for them.

                            1. re: HollywoodLocal

                              OP here. GET THIS: They are already opening another Cristoni Pizza in Beverly Hills!
                              The sign is already up. Who the hell is eating here?

                              When I wrote that original post they emailed and said it was opening jitters and offered me a free meal--do you think I ever went back?

                              My guess is they are hoping people won't notice their shoddy work. Kudos for noticing.


                              1. re: Adsvino

                                The Cristoni in Beverly Hills is aimed at tourist and home delivery.
                                It's in the old Jacopo's building and once residents get wind of how mediocre it apparently is it will be interesting to see how they do.
                                The lease space is a crazy amount of money, the reason Jacopo's left, and they'll have to do well in order to survive in this economic market.

                                1. re: Adsvino

                                  TRIPLE BUST, aka Out of Business. Guess we hounds saw the writing here from day one. I am sure the Cafe Primo at Americana is not far behind. Anyone eating there?

                                  1. re: Adsvino

                                    Actually, only Sunset Blvd. Cristoni closed but not BH...unless it did last nite.

                                    1. re: cinzia

                                      Right, BH is still alive, but perhaps on life support...

                                      1. re: Adsvino

                                        Drive by just about every nite on my way home...looks like the guys are sitting outside waiting for business.

                                        1. re: cinzia

                                          Primo Bistro on SM Blvd. is the same, mostly staff loafing around. PB crowded the sidewalk with a bazillion chairs and tables behind a planter moat and it serves little beyond underlining how little business they're doing. And to create a pedestrian chokepoint a la Sunset Plaza eateries.

                                          I walk by there almost daily. I hope the staff is getting paid decently, because they sure aren't getting any tips. What a money black hole those places must be.