A good New York slice is damn near impossible to find in Los Angeles, especially on the west side of town (don’t you dare bring up Lamonica’s, fellow Bruins). There have been many imitators who are quick to add “New York” to their names and pizzas, in a town that is suddenly bursting with self-proclaimed pizzanistas and pizza snobs. While I’ve recently found a decent variation of such near my apartment, it was the version I had at Vito’s Pizza in West Hollywood a couple of months ago that restored my faith in knowing that there’s indeed a New York pizza comparable to its founding place.
I always wondered whether a pizza should be crispy or chewy (like how the pizzas at Pizzeria Mozza are more of the former, or how a legit Neapolitan pie is more of the latter – a characteristic which I haven’t been able to fully appreciate just yet), but judging by a slice from Vito’s, it appears that it can and should be both. The crust is thin and crispy, yet the giant slice doesn’t crack or crumble when folded; instead, it’s soft and has a nice chew. I ordered a whole pie, half Margherita and half white pesto. The former is simplicity at its best – just a right ratio of cheese and sauce that’s neither too sweet nor tart. I liked the latter as well, but thought that the dollops of ricotta were too sweet, and craved for more pesto flavor as a result.
While the New York pizza is often identified as being greasy, cheap fast food, that isn’t the case at Vito’s. The pies aren’t cheap (in the $20’s), but the quality justifies it. Sure, you’re not getting Bufala mozzarella or San Marzano tomatoes, but ingredients are a grade above what you’d expect, and there’s plenty of care that goes into the dough (apparently they use a 500-year-old starter?!?). I’ve heard that the pies can be inconsistent, however, and maybe that’s the story with both halves of my pizza. Eugenia also tried it (since I brought the pizza home) and preferred Joe’s in Santa Monica, which I need to revisit and see for myself after this revelation. But the slices from Vito’s should be able to bring a smile out of the staunchest New York pizza snobs in L.A.
Chris Hei grade: B+
846 N La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90069