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Jan 17, 2009 12:05 AM

Any pizza in L.A. like Lombardi's?

I just got back from New York and had the BEST pizza at Lombardi's. My question is are there any pizza places in the L.A./Ventura county areas that is like Lombardi's? Anything even slightly close? I know there is the issue of the coal burning stove...Thanks in Advance!

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  1. No coal in LA, but great NYC pizza galore...

    18 Replies
    1. re: Adsvino

      I wouldn't say great, but maybe decent. My top two are Mulberry Street & Vito's in that order, though I'm sure most would put Vito's first.

      Nothing like Lombardi's (or the superior Grimaldi's) though.

      1. re: Adsvino

        Great NYC pizza galore? I wish. Check the other threads on pizza, it's always the same 10 names (Vito's, Joe's, etc.). But don't expect anything close to the best of NY (which is actually Di Fara).

        1. re: sloanedone

          Agree, it's the same six or seven places... but clearly you meant to say the best pizza is at Totonno's.

          There is no coal oven pizza in LA, and that means unfortunately no, nothing like Lombardi's (which is definitely in, say, the top 10 for pizza in New York).

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            I have a hard time telling someone that Totonno's (Coney Island only) isn't the best. It is certainly top 3. Lombardi's is falling but still probably cracks the top ten. All that said, Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix is the nation's #1.

            Random folks have been telling me that Johnnies NY is pretty good. Enough that I tried it. Those people are wrong, it is awful.

            1. re: sloanedone

              You can do signficanty better than Johnnie's NY in LA. From whom are you getting your suggestions and where else have you tried?

              1. re: a_and_w

                Did you read my post? Johnnie's was about the worst I've had in LA. I'm not recommending it. I only tried it because I try anyplace that multiple people have recommended. I'm into the high 70's in terms of places I've tried in Los Angeles (though I only frequent Joe's, Vito's, Village and Mozza).

                1. re: sloanedone

                  I did read your post. I was simply wondering where you got an awful recommendation like Johnnie's. I'm glad you've tried the better places like Joe's, Vito's, etc., which are what I would have recommended if you hadn't.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Like I said, I've tried nearly everything from Santa Monica to the SGV in search of a good slice. That's why I bit on the Johnnie's rec because you never know until you try.

          2. re: sloanedone

            The same is true of pizza threads in NYC -- it's the same 10 names every time. But you are correct that there's nothing like Difara or the coal oven places (i.e., Patsy's, Arturo's, Angelo's, etc.).

            Check out Antica in Marina Del Ray, which has a wood oven, even though it's Neapolitan style. I have high hopes for Bollini's in Monterey Park (also Neapolitan) though a friend tells me it's just all right.

            PS: Sorry, DUG, but Difara's square blows Totonno's away imo...LOL!

            1. re: a_and_w

              Brilliant--I am glad someone noticed the NYC threads--its not like there's great pizza on every block there. In fact, many people complain about the pizza, incl. Difaras, which sports a monumental wait. Our ten names, from Damianos to Mulberry to Vitos and Village, are enough for me.

              I just wish we had more Neapolitan style places...

              1. re: Adsvino

                Have you tried Pit Fire Pizza? I find it scratches an itch, pizza wise. Not exactly Neapolitan, but it reminds me of it more than not.


                1. re: Servorg

                  I ate at the Pit Fire Downtown near City Hall. I was not impressed at all.. I for sure will not be back. Lacking Flavor and just did not smell like a pizzeria.. ( ie sauce, cheeze, garlic, oregano.. nothing wiffing in the air )

                  1. re: Foodandwine

                    I gotta say we are pretty far about on the lack of flavor. I liked the review (even though the review is / was from 2006 we found our thoughts about Pit Fire very much the same as Abby's - although we went to the West LA branch on Westwood Blvd. and not the downtown one that you did) that Abby/pleasure palate did here: and her photos of the pizza they had are great too.

                  2. re: Servorg

                    It's passable but feels more like a corporate concept that a soulful pizzeria. For neo I only eat at Antica (which has cheesy decor and terrible service). i hate Bollinis.

                    1. re: Adsvino

                      I'm so with you on the decor and service at Antica, which are totally at odds with the great pizza. Why do you hate Bollini's? I haven't been, but you're now the second person who's dinged the place in the past day. The pictures looked so promising...

                      1. re: Adsvino

                        Yes, why do you dislike Bollini's?

                  3. re: a_and_w

                    Bollini's is just alright and the service is bad (even for pick-up). I've been there a couple times. Antica is okay, but if you're going for Artisan wood oven then why not just go to Mozza?

                    1. re: sloanedone

                      Mozza's crust isn't thin Neapolitan like Antica's. My favorite pizza places in NYC serve NY-Neapolitan style pies, which are closer to what Antica offers.

              2. recent thread on thin crust pizza:

                and as everyone else said, there are no coal oven pizzerias in LA. however, i am pretty sure i've had coal-fired DIY korean bbq recently. maybe they're operating outside of the law?

                7 Replies
                1. re: ceviche

                  Some Korean BBQ places do use charcoal, which is a wood based material. Coal is a mineral that is not legal to burn in Los Angeles per SCAQMD rules.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    ahhhhhh that makes so much sense. however now that i think about it the place was in sunnyvale (bay area) and not LA. i'm pretty sure it was coal (not charcoal) because it was a giant brick-sized glowing orb that the woman dropped into our grill bottom using a pair of huge pliers.

                    1. re: ceviche

                      No, that's still considered charcoal. Coal for coal ovens is something different.

                      1. re: ceviche

                        It was definitely charcoal -- natural lump charcoal can be brick-sized.

                        If it had been real coal your dinner would have tasted disgusting and you'd probably have died from the fumes (real coal gives off ugly black smoke far beyond the capacity of your normal KBBQ restaurant ventilation system).

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          I remember returning to the barracks from our early-morning run in the Army and smelling the coal-burning kitchen stoves all fired up for breakfast -- probably equivalent to five packs of cigarettes a day! No, we don't want those particulates in our lovely LA air.

                          While I was waiting for a table at Bollini's on a cold day recently, I stood directly across from their wood-burning oven, almost hypnotized by the flame and friendly warmth. Much better than coal and far-better pizza than the average decent Los Angeles pie.

                          Incidentally, it will be great when Bollini's expanded area (adding about 30 seats to this tiny place) finally opens -- in a few weeks, I understand.

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            haha ok ok i believe you guys about it being charcoal.

                            1. re: ceviche

                              Coal ovens don't cook the food directly, as charcoal does with Korean BBQ, but rather the coal is added to a small furnace area which then heats the oven, and this the coal cooks your food indirectly. It is utterly toxic to inhale coal fumes directly (as opposed to inhaling charcoal fumes, which kill you slowly over years of consuming delicous fatty meat and inhaling charcoal smoke from poorly ventilated grills)

                              The benefit of coal over wood (which includes charcoal) or gas is that coal temperatures burn at extremely hot temperatrues, which is ideal for making thin crust pizza which needs short blasts of super high heat to get that perfect chew and char on the crust.

                              Having said that, DiFara's ancient gas ovens make the best pizza I've ever tasted. Just go at odd hours so you don't have to wait (3pm is ideal). In LA, Joe's is #1 for me.

                              Mr Taster

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