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Mar 2, 2009 10:05 AM

REVIEW w/ pics: "The Great Pizza Hunt" at Tony's Little Italy Pizza

A while back, I decided to start a new restaurant series for my dining group revolving around pizza. Considering how many pizza joints are in Los Angeles, I knew that this would be a dining series that would probably take me into infinity, but you gotta do, what you gotta do sometimes, so "The Great Pizza Hunt" was on.

First up was Tony's Little Italy Pizza in Placentia. The reason I decided to start with Tony's is that their specialty is Chicago-Style Pizza. My only experience with Chicago pizza was actually in Chicago at Giordano's, where their pizza is referred to as a stuffed pizza. I found out later that the main difference between a stuffed pizza and a deep dish pizza is that the stuffed pizza has a layer of dough that goes on top of the pizza and the deep dish version doesn't. If there are any Chicagoans reading this review, please correct me if I'm wrong. Although I'm more of a thin crust pizza kind of gal, I did enjoy my foray into Chicago Pizza and was hoping to find something similar in LA; hence, Tony's Little Italy Pizza.

Walking into Tony's, I could definitely tell that the owners loved their Chicago sports teams with one wall devoted to the Chicago Bears and the other wall that was all about the Chicago Cubs. Since I had been running late due to an accident on the freeway, my group was already there and took the initiative to order two deep dish pies, although stuffed pies were also on the menu. Lunch was going to consist of Tony's Special with sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and one pizza that was half with pepperoni/sausage and half olives/bell peppers and onions.

When both pizzas arrived, our eyes widened with wonderment. Wow, these pizzas weren't delicate little darlings. They looked substantial.

I tried a slice of the half pepperoni/sausage pizza first and than a smaller slice of the bell pepper/olive/onions pizza.

Then I had a slice of Tony's Special.

Do you know what words came to mind after each slice? Disappointment soon followed by More Disappointment. Granted, it's been several years since I've had that pizza at Giordano's, but I remember it being a thing of beauty. The ingredients were nicely layered and they weren't drowning in a sea of tomato sauce and cheese. In fact, I could even tell where all the ingredients were laid out.

Both the pizzas I tried at Tony's were literally a "Hot Mess." Just like I mentioned above, it was a spillage of tomato sauce and cheese, all mixed up together. At one point, I couldn't even tell that the sausage/pepperoni pizza even had pepperoni until I looked more closely at a cross-section of one of the slices and saw pepperoni just above the crust and underneath the cheese. It just felt like there wasn't any restraint. Also, I felt that they really limited the quantity of toppings. If you got any of the toppings on any of your pizza slices, you were pretty lucky. At times, it felt like all I was eating was crust, tomato sauce and cheese.

When you add to all this, a crust that was a little burnt at the edges, which made it harder to chew and ingredients that should have been more flavorful, neither of the pizzas at Tony's were the Chicago pizza of my dreams. Come on, how can pepperoni and sausage not have any flavor??? As for the sauce, it was okay, although a little sweeter than I would have liked and at least the cheese was ooey and gooey, so that's one positive thing to note. Overall, as I mentioned earlier, I was pretty disappointed and definitely have no plans to make a return visit to Tony's.

To see pics, go to:

Tony's Little Italy Pizza
1808 N. Placentia Avenue, Unit B
Placentia, CA 92870
(714) 528-2159


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  1. Say it isn't so.....this is the first negative review I've ever seen on TLIP.

    9 Replies
      1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

        Then that's the 2nd. (sounded kind of 50/50... bad/good)

        Everytime someone asks where to find Chicago style pizza in LA/OC, Little Tony's gets the top billing.

        I'll scratch it off my "must try" list for Chicago style pizza.

        1. re: monku

          Who knows? You might like it. Like you said, it did get some positive reviews. Maybe, it's just personal taste.

          1. re: pleasurepalate

            I follow your posts and respect your reviews too much to waste my time. Just strange when Chicago style pizza is mentioned on the LA Boards immediately people jump in with Little Tony's. I'm with you, I need toppings and not a lot of sauce and cheese. Pictures don't lie.

            Not ever having the real Chicago deep dish style pizza in Chicago my only experiences are:
            Numero Uno (20+ years ago)
            .......and anywhere else which wasn't memorable.

            My latest go to place for pizza is Folliero Pizza in Highland Park. I ask for it with the crust thin. I'm from NY and its the closest I've had to those legendary NYC pizza joints. It's close, cheap and right on. Better than fighting the crowds at Casa Bianca.

            Folliero Pizza & Italian Food
            5566 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042

            1. re: monku

              I've heard about Folliero, but haven't made a trek yet and I actually love NY style pizza, so I'm going to have to check this place ou t.

              1. re: pleasurepalate

                Ask for them to make it with thin crust.
                Nothing else there is that worthwhile except the pizza in my opinion.

                1. re: monku

                  As the one who recommended that you order the pizza thin crust, the sandwiches at Folliero's are also mighty fine (and cheap), and many love the lasagna. My wife is partial to the panini.

                  1. re: Briggs

                    Yes, thank you again.
                    Been four times since that thin crust rec a few weeks ago. I ask for thin crust and crispy and its perfect.

                    Will give the lasagna and panini a try. Ordered the spaghetti with meat sauce and thought they made a mistake and there was no meat in the sauce. Ordered it again and the same meat. Any clues?
                    But the pizza is perfect.

      2. I haven't even tried to find any Chicago pizza down here in LA, b/c I've heard there just isn't any (worth eating). How I miss Zachary's and Little Star (bay area).

        1. Abby,

          Very nice write-up, although I am bummed at your experience. As one of the CH "founders" of Tony's and a strong proponent, I am thrilled when people discover
          Tony's and really enjoy it.

          I visit there with my family about once every other month and really enjoy it...for us it's an extra-thin or most likely a stuffed all honesty I've never had the regular deep dish. For what it's worth the extra crust layer can acually help it hold it's shape together a little better, although it can still be one mess of a pizza (but I say that in a good way!).

          My main critique has been that the toppings are not quite plentiful enough to match the crust/sauce/cheese mix but overall I have always been impressed. When I am in the Bay Area, Zachary's is a regular for me, and as good as that is, I enjoy the mom and pop pizza joint feel to Tony's...makes the pizza taste that much better to me.

          I hope you WILL give it another shot (get a stuffed crust) and report back. Again, really enjoyed your write-up and look forward to more on your pizza journey...hope you find some great places, espcecially some hidden gems.

          2 Replies
          1. re: RSMBob

            RSMBob, I believe that you've rec'd Sabatino's before but, I don't remember you mentioning their pizza. I found it another delicious vehicle for their house made sausage.

            Also, your thoughts on this place:

            Sorry for the hi-jack.

            1. re: JAB

              I have mentioned the pizza at Sabatino's before, and it is very good IMHO, probably my favorite thin crust pizza in OC. I don't dine there often, but a sausage pizza is what I get when I do...along with a few lbs of the good stuff to take home!

              Despite it being in my backyard, i have not been to Pizza e Vino...a little high brow for my tastes in a pizza place I think, but it probably is worth a try some time.

          2. Hi.. Enjoyed the review, even though I was rooting for Tony's to get high marks (since I also enjoy reading RSMBob's enthusiastic recommendations of the joint, lo these many years)... Now, a question: isn't this style of pizza (both deep dish & stuffed) _supposed_ to be a "hot mess", structurally speaking? For example, one can't fault a banana split ( a 'cold mess' ) for being messier than an ice cream cone. Myself, I prefer chicago-style thin crust pizza, precisely for this reason -- distinctly cut squares having both a crispy top(ping) and a crispy crust...

            1 Reply
            1. re: silence9

              For me, I can only compare Tony's to the one actual Chicago pizza I had at Giordano's and while I don't have any pictures, I just remember the Giordano's pizza didn't have as much "spillage". :)