An epic pizza journey takes me across the city of Los Angeles to find the best New York style pizza served by the slice. From family-friendly to “Where the hell am I?” these pizza places are as diverse as the city itself.
Joe’s Pizza - Santa Monica
111 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401 - (310) 395-9222 - website
Whenever you ask a Los Angeles resident who’s originally from New York or New Jersey where to get good pizza, chances are they’ll say Joe’s in Santa Monica. Located two blocks from the popular 3rd Street Promenade and a block from the Santa Monica Pier, a slice at Joe’s is a solid choice if you’re looking for a snack to hold off your hunger while shopping or exploring the area.
The interior is small and clean but not worth sticking around for. I recommend ordering your slice to go, crossing Ocean Avenue, and sitting on the grass overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Once I finished taking glamor shots of my slice with the ocean in the background and thoroughly looking like a weirdo for doing so (hey, I do it for you), I took a seat on the grass. Upon the first bite I immediately noticed how sweet the tomato sauce was. And where many pizzas have a light layer of sauce, Joe’s seems to double up. Beneath the sauce, the crust was moderately thin and had a slight char to it.
Vito’s Pizza - West Hollywood
846 North La Cienega Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069 - (310) 652-6859 - website
Located in a small strip-mall in West Hollywood, Vito’s doesn’t look like much from the outside — but inside, Vito’s is warm, authentic, and friendly. It reminded me of the pizza places I ate in while growing up in New Jersey; there were no airs about it. After talking to one of the friendly staff members who also happened to be from New Jersey, I found out that Vito himself is a Jersey boy and he comes in every morning to make fresh dough. I knew there was a reason I felt at home here.
Vito’s display case was filled with the largest selection of pizzas by the slice. With my first bite I immediately noticed how easy it was to eat. Perhaps a odd first thing to note, but some pizzas can be a little chewy or tough. Vito’s on the other hand had a crust that was super thin and light, yet sturdy enough to hold a thin layer of sauce and cheese. A real New Jersey pizza.
Village Pizzeria - Larchmont
131 N Larchmont Blvd. Los Angeles, CA - (323) 465-5566 - website
Larchmont Village, specifically North Larchmont Boulevard between Melrose Avenue and 1st street, is a favorite local spot to eat and shop. In the heart of that strip is Village Pizzeria. Just like the surrounding neighborhood, Village Pizzeria gives off a wholesome and family-friendly vibe. There’s a small patio outside, and inside the Brooklyn-born owner has covered the walls in New York memorabilia and signs, one of which reads, “Be nice or leave.” That motto must run the place because the staff was friendly and it generally felt like a welcoming place to be.
Village Pizzeria emphasizes the quality of their ingredients, and to be honest, I noticed. There are no pies on display like most places that serve by the slice, and it tasted like they made my slice fresh when I ordered it. It was an all around great piece of pizza, from the thin and slightly crunchy crust to the Wisconsin mozzarella. Even the parmesan cheese in the shaker next to me was freshly grated; not the powdery stuff you often find.
Pizzanista! - Downtown Los Angeles (Art’s District)
2019 E 7th St. Los Angeles, CA 90021 - (213) 627-1430 - website
For visitors to LA, and probably many LA residents who’ve yet to explore the Art’s District, driving to and arriving at Pizzanista! may make you ask yourself, “Where the hell am I?” Although it can sometimes seem like a strange industrial neighborhood, fear not, this is an up-and-coming part of the city with a growing number of awesome restaurants, bars, and shops.
Founded by legendary skateboarder, Salman Agah, Pizzanista! is the most atypical pizza place I’ve seen with a row of skateboard magazines sitting on a counter, brick walls, and exposed Edison light bulbs. The crowd was also the most unique. The day I was there, so where 150+ members of a notorious biker gang who were meeting at the bar that shares Pizzanista!’s little black building. I’m sure that’s not an everyday occurrence, but it made for a memorable lunch.
Pizzanista!’s pizza is cheesy. Just looking at the slice I could tell it was different from the other slices I’d eaten around LA. The other slices seemed perfectly neat with the cheese safely adhered to the crust. This one seemed a little more rogue. The crust on the cheese slice was a bit soft, but delicious nonetheless. If plain cheese isn’t your style, try a slice of the Meat Jesus which features a crispier crust topped with loads of bacon, sausage, and pepperoni.