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May 19, 2012 03:07 PM

800 Degree Pizza Falls Flat

My experience here was not so good. I had the mushroom and truffle oil pizza. I could not taste any truffle oil, the cheese they use did not match with the taste of the scanty mushrooms and the crust was too soft even though we asked for it crispy. The vegetarian pizza was totally forgettable.

In my opinion there is a full grade difference in quality between this place and Stella Rossa. I won't be going back. They also need to add more high chairs, they only have two for the whole place and both were in use until we got to the very end of the line.

The only highlight was the chopped salad which was very nicely prepared and old style, and I actually preferred it to Stella Rosa's.

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  1. 1) something would be REALLY wrong with steilla rosa if they didn't deliver a pizza for $20 that WASN'T a "full grade difference" better than an $8 pizza.

    2) re: high chair issue.
    the overwhelming majority of the customers going to 800 degrees are grown-ups who go to school or work around UCLA. the whole westwood village area, for the most part, is not focused on the high chair crowd.
    from a business point of view, i'd bet that using that costly real estate to store a supply of high chairs, doesn't make sense. also, it appears that, even though they only have two highchairs, they were, in fact, available for your use when you needed them AFTER you went through the line. the restaurant's whole system is planned so that people WON'T be "saving" tables before they've gone through the line.

    3) as you have discovered, their pizza, even when it is ordered "crispy" is still Neapolitan-style, with the soft center. i've yet to have any pizza that has a Neapolitan crust (i.e. extremely thin, and made with 00 or 0 flour) and that is made using fresh cheese (as opposed to the low moisture part-skim, rubbery commercial stuff) that did NOT have a soft spot in the center.

    sounds like stella rosa is a better fit for you.
    i like them both.

    2 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      The Stella Rossa truffle pizza is $13.95 versus 800 Degrees $11.65 truffle pizza and Stella Rossa is, in my opinion, scads better.

      There were three groups of families with young children in there for early dinner (5ish). They need more high chairs, so moms with toddlers won't get shot nerves seeing the 2 high chairs in use and wondering if they are going to have to eat their pizza with a squirmy toddler in their lap. High chairs stack on each other like cups so there is not a room issue.

      Neither is really good for any kid who gets squirmy waiting in a line, there was like a half hour wait at 5ish (I would recommend that anyone who would want to bring their toddler here should go for a stroller ride and let someone else wait in the line and call on the cell when they are up at the counter).

      1. re: noshie

        somehow or other, i've never gotten out the door at stella rosa for less than $20.
        otoh, i normally get out the door at 800 degrees for about $8.50 (yes, i do leave money in the tip jar, there).

        never had the truffle pizza at either place.
        obviously our financial experiences with these places are not the same.

        fwiw, i don't remember even one time that stella rosa had a wait when i was there at the open (5pm most days), so, in addition to their truffle pizza, this may be another way that stella rosa is a better place for you. . . .

    2. Someone brought take-out from there a couple evenings ago for a group event, it got an overwhelming two thumbs down. I actually went to LaMonica's afterwards to scratch the pizza itch.

      9 Replies
      1. re: prawn

        It may be difficult with the crowd, but this is a pizza that doesn't "hold well" and needs to be eaten pretty much right out of the oven. I'm with westsidegal on this place; the price I pay for the product I'm getting is unbeatable.

        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

          It went from Village to UCLA campus fairly quickly. Disregarding price or lines, it just didn't live up to the hype.

          1. re: prawn

            Not fast enough. One should finish a 800deg pie in the time it takes from oven to campus. It doesn't travel, at all. I try to eat the first slice before the pizza even hits the table.

            Forget the hype, look at the product -- $9 pizza with quality toppings that doesn't involve industrial pepperoni. The fact Lamonica was mentioned means someone missed the "point".

            1. re: TonyC

              I'll second TonyCs point..some people just dont get it...sit down and eat the pie there!

              1. re: TonyC

                In all honesty, 800 Degrees shouldn't even have take out boxes. I'm only sort of kidding.

                Their pizza seems to be prepared to be eaten immediately -- anyone who does take out here is going to be disappointed.

                1. re: PaulF


                  I'm ok with 800deg stocking boxes. When there are no seats, how else will you be able to eat the pizza while standing on the sidewalks of Lindbrook?

                  1. re: TonyC

                    since they've started making an effort to stop customers from bogarting tables before going through the line and receiving their food, i've not found myself in the position of getting my pizza and not being able to find a place to sit.

                    they just needed to dissuade the discourteous customers from this piggish practice.

                2. re: TonyC

                  +1 TonyC and lappizzamaven and PaulF!
                  you'll be able to recognize me there because i, too, wolf down the first slice before it gets to the table.
                  Neapolitan pies are too time-sensitive to travel at all.

              2. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                So right. For instance, I have had Mozza take out vs. Eat in, and latter was FAR better than the former. It is simply not the Type of pizza that is deliverable.

            2. I have been going to 800 degree since they've opened and I believe that they have a great product at their price. If there's a problem they have been glad to fix it. One time I was there they remade pizzas for everyone in line because there was a problem with the oven and the chef was unhappy with the pizzas coming out at no charge to anyone as in free.

              6 Replies
              1. re: wienermobile

                +1, weinermobile.

                had lunch at 800 degrees yesterday.
                at $6.45 before tax and tip for a 14" Neapolitan-style margarita pie made with good-quality ingredients, it's an unbeatable deal for the westside.

                that said, though, the secret is out and their business is booming, so if someone wants this product, at this price and location, AND expects no wait at peak hours, maybe they should spare themselves and just pivot elsewhere.

                (imho, if someone likes their pizza piled with toppings, a Neapolitan-style pie is not the best vehicle. also, imho, Neapolitan-style pies simply don't travel well. if i had to order take-out pizza for an event, i'd probably just suck it up and order the thicker-crust-style made with the low-moisture/part skim rubber cement cheese.)

                1. re: westsidegal

                  "6.45 before tax and tip for a 14" Neapolitan-style margarita pie made with good-quality ingredients"

                  that IS unbeatable. I'll denote 800' as an "must eat there" place.

                  1. re: ns1

                    And that's why it's so crowded.

                    At that price, even students can eat there. It just so happens the OP for this thread chose to order the most expensive pizza on the menu. If everything on the menu cost $11.85 it would be a different discussion; the ROI for a 12 dollar pizza is different than for a 6 or 7 dollar pizza. But most people are having lunch/dinner there and getting change from a 10 dollar bill. That's rare for, as you say, a 14 inch pizza made with high quality ingredients.

                    I'm not sure you can get a low quality Pizza Hut pizza for that price.

                    For me -- I rarely if ever order pizza anywhere -- but I do like 800 degrees for the quality and the price.

                  2. re: westsidegal

                    Hey Westsidegal, completely agree with your points re:800 deg...just wondering...have you ever bitten into a cheesy pizza and been unable literally to tear away from the slice? and if so, where? i want to hang onto my teeth a little longer... ha,ha!

                    1. re: lapizzamaven

                      sorry, LA pizzamaven, no.
                      i'm sure you have already tried all the pies that are on my regular rotation:
                      margarita- 800 degrees
                      margarita- stella rosa
                      anchovy--milo and olive (the milo and olive anchovy pizza does NOT have cheese)
                      truffle--cafe del rey (the cafe del rey truffle pizza does NOT have tomato sauce)

                      if i ever end up finding what you seek, i'll let you know!

                  3. re: wienermobile

                    +1. I've eaten at 800 Degrees about 10 times so far, and I've found that every criticism I've heard about the place seems to come from people who appear to have had completely unrealistic expectations. Granted, it may not be to everyone's subjective taste, but what restaurant is?

                  4. The OP wrote: "I had the mushroom and truffle oil pizza. I could not taste any truffle oil."

                    Per the menu linked below, it appears the pizza you ordered was their Tartufo specialty pie for $11.65. The ingredients listed on the menu for that pie are truffle cheese, roasted mushrooms, caramelized garlic, and arugula (no tomato). There is no truffle oil in that description, so it should not have been a surprise that you could not taste any.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Arthur

                      You are right, but still no truffle taste at all

                      1. re: noshie

                        not for noshie, who doesn't like the place,
                        but for others who are still part of the stroller brigade:

                        it seemed to me that the stroller brigade members were there in force and all pretty satisfied/happy at 11:30AM on sunday. lots of room, no line out the door, ok for kids to make a little noise as they were strapped into the strollers, and, best of all, the parents could have good adult food at an unreasonably LOW price without being expected to spring for alcoholic beverages , , , ,

                        gotta say, though. since i worked my way through college in the food service business, please be kind to the staff and throw some money into the tip jar. . . . . . .

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          How is their beer selection? Taps & bottles / cans?

                          1. re: JAB

                            sorry, JAB, i dunno.
                            the environment (brightly-lit self-serve with busy food service) is not the kind of place i normally favor for imbibing alcohol. i don't recall them offering any beer on tap.

                            for beer, i normally go to The Tripel which is crawling distance from my home ( i also like their food). If someone else is driving, i also like the beer selection at Wurstkuche on Lincoln Blvd. in Venice.

                    2. We had high expectations for this place since it's owned by the Umami Burger folks. The prices are good, as all the other reviewers say, and you get quite a bit of food. However, we like to bring our own fine wines to pair with our food. Even though we called in advance to confirm they offered corkage, when we got there the manager said they don't offer corkage but he'd let us do it this one time. Oddly enough, they have an actual option in the register to charge $10 for something called "corkage"!!! So what's the deal guys? Do you offer corkage, or don't you? Set a policy and stick with it. We were all quite upset over this turn of events but hoped the food would at least make this one-and-only visit worthwhile. It didn't.

                      THE GOOD: The burrata with cherry tomatoes and pesto is fantastic. It's so creamy and the pesto is so well done. One of the best things you can do is take a chunk of pizza crust and slather it with cheese and pesto, throw a tomato on top and whamo! It's better than any of the pizza they're making.
                      Our friends got the burrata with melon and prosciutto and they raved over that combo.

                      The chopped salad was also quite good with just the right amount of meats, cheese and dressing.

                      THE BAD:
                      All 4 of the pizzas our group ordered were soggy in the middle and definitely not crispy like any Neapolitan pizza should be. They had good flavor but either they were too slathered with olive oil, weren't cooked long enough or both. Sure, this place cranks your pizza out fast, but is it at the expense of cooking it properly? We won't be going back so I guess we'll never know.

                      Oh, and for everyone that thinks Neapolitan pizza is supposed to be soggy, you should actually go to Naples a couple of times like I have. And if you can't afford that, then check out the Wikipedia entry for "Neapolitan pizza" which states: "When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant." I guess these folks are counting on no one knowing any better.

                      THE UGLY:
                      The process of placing our order. The first person who asks what you would like really only wants to know one thing: which of the three base pizza styles or preset pizzas you would like. If you start telling her what extra toppings you want you quickly get to talk to the hand that points you down to the toppings area. Now you get to repeat yourself a second time. When we finally got to the gal running the register we were handed our receipt and I noticed that it did NOT reflect the arugula topping I had ordered (one of the toppings that they put on after baking the pie). So for the third time now I'm asking for arugula and I have a headache.

                      When I told her we needed to pay corkage on the two bottles we brought we got the whole scolding from the manager who had to come over and punch it into the register while explaining that they already have an assortment of fine wines (yes, sitting out about 10 feet from the open oven so they can get to be a toasty mess in your glass).

                      Oh, and the pizzas aren't brought to your table (a la Pit Fire). You have to do this salmon-swimming-upstream thing to get back to the counter as they call out your number (a la Taco Bell).

                      The whole ordering process is an annoying mess. The folks who set it up obviously haven't been to a Subway.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: tp096255

                        Oh, and for everyone that thinks Neapolitan pizza is supposed to be soggy, you should actually go to Naples a couple of times like I have.
                        Been to Naples. It's wet in the middle.

                        See Bourdain's video below where he eats it with a fork and knife and shows a very wet middle.

                        Pizza footage starts around 0:30. Wet center footage at 0:48.


                        1. re: Porthos

                          Agreed. When I was in Naples and Rome, if the pizza has fresh mozzarella, the center will undoubtedly turn very soft due to the moisture.

                          1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                            why are some neapolitan pizzas wetter than others?

                            1. re: aizan

                              I can't say for sure. There are a variety of sources for "moisture"; a heavier hand with the olive oil, a batch of tomatoes with a higher water content, or the mozzarella itself. I've had strict Neapolitan pizza which uses mozzarella from water buffalo which was wetter than the Neapolitan I had with cow milk mozzarella.

                              1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                Adding burrata makes for an especially wet pie, which is understandable, considering that it has more moisture than regular mozzarella.

                        2. re: tp096255

                          i just said, "i would like arugula on my pizza, please" three times. so far, no headache.

                          1. re: tp096255

                            The funny thing about using wikipedia as source is that anyone can edit wikipedia.

                            1. re: tp096255

                              While you may have visited Naples, perhaps you did not have Neapolitan time try da michele, they only sell two different kinds of pizza (marinara and margerita) and it is definitely wet/soft.

                              FWIW, I wasn't crazy about Neopolitan Pizza...and there are places in Naples that do sell more traditional pizza as well.

                              1. re: tp096255

                                <<we like to bring our own fine wines to pair with our food.>>

                                imho, if you think that it makes sense to bring your own fine wines to a place that serves a $6.45 pizza margarita, you have missed the entire point of the restaurant.

                                imho, if you think that neapolitan pizza is not soft in the center, you, again, have missed the point. (btw, if you ask them, they will, within the constraints of neapolitan-style pizza, cook your pie a little longer so it will be a little crisper.)

                                as you have discovered, this restaurant is NOT a fine dining restaurant geared to high maintenance customers.

                                they serve a respectable version of a NEAPOLITAN pie at an unbelievably low price for those customers that are appreciative of the genre of both the pie and of the type of restaurant.

                                i second Porthos' recommendation that you check out Bourdain's video.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  Well put Gal. Couldn't have said it better myself.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    WSG, I'm not sure if you venture east of La Brea, as most of your fav places are on the westside, hence your name. But have you tried the pizza at Mother Dough? I feel that they have the closest thing to true Neapolitan pizza here in the city. I would describe their crust in the middle as soft but not soggy.

                                    1. re: TailbackU

                                      TailbackU, ever have Sotto's pizza? Since Antica closed my 2 favorite Neapolitan styles are Sotto(on the left) and Mother Dough(on right) and olio...definitely soft and wet in the center, especially if fresh or bufala mozz is used.

                                      1. re: lapizzamaven

                                        Yes I've been to Sotto. I prefer Mother Dough's crust over Sotto's.

                                        1. re: lapizzamaven

                                          Love the pizza at Sotto. The pork version is incredible.

                                        2. re: TailbackU

                                          if i ever get that far east again, i'll try to work in Mother Dough.
                                          maybe next year.. . .

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            Even if you do manage to get that far east (which I hope you mean in jest since it's still west of the 5) I wouldn't use the opportunity to eat at Mother Dough. We had dinner there shortly after Mozza and were pretty disappointed given that the prices were more or less on par but the entire experience as significantly less. The cleanliness was immaculate though.