April 16th, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
Last April, I was lucky enough to go to LA for a conference, which was Thursday through the following Wednesday. I had the weekend off, though, so Eric decided to fly out and meet me and eat pizza! There are 5 pizza restaurants on the 2015 list in Los Angeles, and we only had two days to hit them all. We knew it would be tight, but we also knew that our stomachs could handle it.
Eric flew in too late on Friday night to try and go out for pizza, so we started our pizza adventure on Saturday. We didn’t have a car, so we decided that we’d make a day of it and borrow my friend’s bikes to take a tour of LA.
Our first stop, Barone’s Famous Italian Restaurant, opened at 11 am, and was a 17 mile bike from where we were staying in Santa Monica. Google told us that it would take us 2 hours, so we planned on taking 3 and left around 8 am. It was a good thing that we gave ourselves the extra time, because Google failed to tell us that the route required biking OVER the Hollywood Hills. For anyone who has been to LA, these are no small hills. People go HIKING in these hills, and we decided to ride our cruiser bikes there. It is a very good thing that Eric did not realize this ahead of time, or he probably would have made us take a Lyft.
So I wish I could tell you that this pizza was worth it, but it wasn’t. The restaurant menu actually looks pretty good, but we were there for the pizza. We went with the Grilled Vegetable pizza, but we maybe should have gone for one with sauce, or just one that had a lot of cheese. The crust is really thin, almost like a cracker. It was baked in a sheet pan and was served on the sheet pan, too. There were too many capers on it, and it was really salty and dry. The cheese wasn’t very good, and the veggies were sort of soggy. Overall, we were disappointed with our choice, but we knew that we had plenty of other pizzas to try so we thought of it as an appetizer and moved on.
Luckily, our next stop did not require us to bike all the way back over the hills, and instead we biked into Downtown LA. It took us a little over an hour to get to Pizzeria Mozza, which was about 11 miles away from Barone’s. Here, we were not disappointed. Mozza is ranked at #4 on the Daily Meal list, and is another restaurant owned and operated by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. We couldn’t make a reservation, so it worked out good for us that we got there at an unusual lunch time, and we got seated right away.
We tried two pizzas here. We had to try the famous squash blossom and Burrata pizza, and we also got a white pizza with mushrooms. The crust was really good and airy, although there was a lot of it. We also didn’t really get a good taste of the sauce, but this is one time when we felt that the sauce didn’t really matter. The flavors of both pies were on point, and we wished that we had room to try some of the desserts here. Also, Mozza introduced us to the amazingness that is Burrata on pizza. We wish there could have been more of it!
It was a nice, easy, 12 mile bike back to Santa Monica (mostly downhill), and we had a quick break before heading out for dinner to the third pizzeria of the day, Sotto. We got our friend to come with us for dinner, and she has a car, so Eric was thrilled that we didn’t have to bike there.
At Sotto, I went with the Margherita, but we also tried the Guanciale with pork, ricotta, and scallion, and the Biancoverde, which had a great kick to it. We also started out with the homemade bread, which was a great decision. We still wished we had more Burrata.
We loved the atmosphere of Sotto. It has a really cool, LA vibe, although it was a little dark inside (see: poor photos). It has a great wine list. It isn’t so much a pizzeria as an Italian restaurant, but the pizzas are really good. The crust was almost as good as the crusts at Mozza. We’d definitely stop back here for pizza and dinner again.
Stay tuned for our Day 2 LA post next week. We want to give a special shout out to Lyssa for helping us eat all these pizzas, stay at her house, and take her bikes around on our long tour of LA. Also, thank you for not telling Eric that “biking into the Valley” meant biking over some crazy hills. It was better that he didn’t know what he was in for.
Barone’s Famous Italian Restaurant
13726 Oxnard St
Valley Glen, CA 91401
641 Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
9575 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035