Pizza is the perfect comfort food - it’s easy to eat, hearty, oozing with gooey cheese and often customizable with a bevy of tempting toppings. Pizza means many things to different people, including thin-crust, New York-style; deep-dish Chicago pies; and chewy, traditional Neapolitan versions. Any way you slice it, narrowing down a list of top pizzas is no easy task, especially considering our boom in high-quality restaurants. That said, we’re up to the challenge. Discover more than 20 top Los Angeles pizzas.
Ali Haider operated a mobile pizza oven at Northridge and West Hollywood farmers markets before settling on a Sun Valley plaza for his permanent home in 2015. His Naples-born oven incorporates Mt. Vesuvius volcanic rock and sports black shard tiles with “786” in red. Smoldering olive and almond woods cook 786 pizzas. Antimo Caputo 00 flour, salt, water, and yeast ferments for 48 hours to form dough. Halal meats top 12-inch pizzas that cook for 90 seconds at approximately 786 degrees Fahrenheit. Atypical flavor combinations include Bombay Tikka Masala, Istanbul, and El Chapo, a Mexican-inspired pizza with “flavor that is hard to capture.” 786 Degrees was such a hit in Sun Valley that Haider expanded to Pasadena with the larger Sapori di 786 Degrees in 2019.
Justin De Leon and wife Linda have been "rolling in LA since 2012" at their Mid-City pizzeria. Their vibrant strip mall space features tile floors, graffiti splashed on white walls, and a bumping jukebox. Most of the time, round pizza with pleasantly chewy crust is the only option, available with some unusual toppings and cheeky names like The Mayor’s Mistress and The Adonis. Square pie is the main draw, but limited to Fridays and after 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Apollonia’s square pie draws on Detroit pizza traditions and comes topped with pepperoni, cheese, or Acapulco Gold with ricotta, truffle oil, and arugula. Add burrata and spicy honey for a boost. Pepperoni is particularly good, teaming melted mozzarella with garlicky tomato sauce, chiffonade basil, savory Parmesan, and a crusty cheese skirt that forms from touching the sizzling hot pan.
Located in a massive Arts District warehouse space adjacent to the L.A. River, Bestia (meaning “beast” in Italian) opened in late 2012 and quickly became one of the hottest tables in town, with reservations booked six to eight weeks in advance. Italian food lovers come for the house-made pastas and charcuterie, but also for the Neapolitan-style pizzas that have become a pet project of chef Ori Menashe. The former Angelini Osteria toque refined his dough-making process over a few months - what was once a 24-hour cycle of fermentation has evolved into three full days. The result is a more consistent, puffier crust. While the menu changes daily, the pizzas remain fairly constant. Favorites include the spreadable 'nduja sausage with San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella; and the Gorgonzola with kale and Grana Padano.
Burattino Brick Oven Pizza
Burattino is a wooden puppet and the main character in “The Golden Key,” a popular Russian children’s book by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy that's based on Italy’s Pinocchio. This character appears in paintings and photos on walls at Burattino Brick Oven Pizza in Rancho Palos Verdes. Their brick oven belonged to predecessor Pavich’s and produces some of LA’s most unique pizzas. Atypical toppings appear on crispy, cracker-like crusts, including Black Magic pizza with black garlic and pepperoni; and Croatian pizza with beef “prosciutto.” Dial up the “exotic” quotient with pizzas like duck prosciutto & goat cheese, bison sausage & red chile peppers, and venison & lingonberry Brie. Their Christmas-colored Chori-Man Special may be Burattino’s best bet, combining ultra-local red chorizo and green chorizo, bacon, garlic, chopped tomatoes, onions, mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce. Pizzaiolo Lee Kim also created a fun mash-up of two iconic comfort foods, resulting in a “pizza dog” featuring a juicy hot dog that’s baked with melted Provolone, stretchy mozzarella, and marinara sauce in a pizza dough crust.
Cosa Buona is Zach Pollack’s compact 45-seat Echo Park follow-up to sister restaurant Alimento. At the busiest intersection in the 90026 zip code, Pollack super-charges Italian-American classics. Pizza is way better than a neighborhood restaurant has a right to be, with crust that’s char-pocked and pull-apart after cooking in a wood-burning Stefano Ferrara oven. The version with crispy-cupped pepperoni discs, tomato, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano is great. So is the spicy sausage pizza with mozzarella, mustard greens, and chile. Cosa Buona even manages to elevate Hawaiian pizza, transforming the kitschy ham and pineapple combo from a punch line to a modern classic by incorporating house-made Canadian bacon, onion, chilies, and smoked mozzarella.
DeSano Pizza Bakery
Located in East Hollywood, DeSano Pizza Bakery features four massive, 10,000-pound ovens named after Italian saints: San Felice, San Paolino, San Gennaro and San Matteo. The wood-fired, 900-degree ovens produce Neapolitan-style pizzas with ingredients like San Marzano D.O.P tomatoes and Mozzarella di Bufala that are sourced from Campania in southern Italy. Pizza highlights include a classic Margherita D.O.P. (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, garlic) the namesake DeSano (sausage, pepperoni, garlic, buffalo mozzarella) and the Verdura (broccoli rage, mushroom, cherry tomato, garlic, buffalo mozzarella).
Pair your pie with a selection of local craft brews or Italian and California red and white wines. The expansive 7,000 square-foot space offers picnic-style communal tables in the main dining room, ideal for watching the pizza-making action from the open kitchen. A private dining room is available for pizza parties and is one of the best affordable group dining options in LA.
Richard Florczak, a private chef to celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio for over two decades, opened Flame Pizzeria in Reseda’s Tampa Towne strip mall in 2015. A central oven burns citrus wood, which provides even heat. Florczak takes four days to let his dough rise using cultures sourced from outside Naples. He aims for "uniform color beyond the blisters," with crisp edges and soft center. Florczak prefers considerable char on his crust. The Richie is a spicy meat lover’s dream combining arrabbiata sauce, fresh mozzarella, soppressata and fennel sausage shavings. The Lily, named for his niece, is a vegetarian delight, pairing roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato tapenade with Feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and a flurry of fresh oregano. Remember: “No pineapple on pizza and don’t even think about asking for gluten-free!”
Hail Mary Pizza
David Wilcox flipped Journeymen into a focused wood-fired pizzeria that specializes in 13-inch pizzas. The space features a grey facade with light-up yellow block letters, a colorful cartoon mural inside, and an open kitchen. Lunch calls for rectangular slices, and 13 different rounds are available starting at 5:30 p.m. Wilcox has been making pizza since he was 18, and worked on his current recipe for eight years. His stated goal is to "try and do things different." His crispy crust that utilizes naturally leavened dough is proof positive, sporting good chew, particularly at the edges. Wilcox says the pizza is "closer to a baguette than it is to a traditional pizza crust," baking in a double-decker gas oven that dates more than 24 years to the space’s pre-Canelé days as Osteria Nonni. Giust-Oh! is a standout pizza sporting thin-sliced potato, rapini, gobs of ricotta, white sauce, lemon zest, cracked black pepper, shaved lemon zest, and olive oil. Greezer is a complementary salad of seared little gems, roasted romanesco, crunchy raw sliced watermelon radish, rapini, mint dressing, and fried capers that’s completely vegan.
Jon & Vinny's
Pizza fans don't have to wait until lunch to get their fix at Jon & Vinny's, the Italian American eatery opened in April 2015 by chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun, et al.). The intimate, 45-seat space features a spare interior that's fronted by glass, with an open kitchen, floor-to-ceiling blonde wood, and a boutique wine shop, Helen’s, tucked in the back.
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Jon & Vinny’s serves a hearty breakfast pizza with Yukon gold potatoes, rosemary, olive oil, Parmesan, and red onion, topped with a single egg. Add the optional grilled Niman Ranch bacon to really make it a breakfast of champions. Other pizza highlights include the LA Woman (local burrata, tomato, basil, olive oil, sea salt) and the Ham & Yeezy with ham, vodka sauce, red onion, caciocavallo, smoked mozzarella, and pickled Fresno chilies.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele is a legendary Naples pizzeria that many Americans learned about while watching Julia Roberts eat there in the 2010 movie Eat Pray Love. Owner Francesco Zimone imported L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele to a beautiful space on a Hollywood side street in 2019. Twin patios star at the sprawling restaurant, which features an exhibition kitchen for head pizzaiolo Michele Rubini and his crew, who preside over a wood-fired pizza oven lined with blue and white tiles. Pizza is the main draw on a well-balanced Italian menu. Naples-based pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito supposedly created the Margherita pizza for the Queen in 1889 and L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele carries on the tradition in Hollywood. Their baseline pizza sports a chewy crust with minimal puff that co-stars zesty tomato sauce, fior di latte, Pecorino, and basil and gets soupy in the middle if diners let the pies sit. Customers looking for a more elaborate pizza experience can make it rain black truffles or order Montanara - a sturdier, puffier fried and baked pizza crafted with tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, and basil.
La Morra Pizzeria
Roving pizzaiolo Zach Swemle and partner Marlee Blodgett roam LA with their mobile Neapolitan pizza oven, gracing Angelenos with gloriously puffy, fire-pocked pies. The couple pops up Wednesday nights at Tabula Rasa Bar in Thai Town and caters across LA. Their menu changes with the seasons, but might include Napoli with pungent anchovy, garlic, tomato, capers, chiles, oregano, basil, and the option to add creamy mozzarella for more optimal balance. Lamb Pie hosts crumbled Calabrian lamb sausage, spicy tomato, cooling herbed yogurt, and cilantro. Their Funghi pizza is another crowd-pleaser, teaming earthy oyster mushrooms with Fontina, shallots, parsley, and panna.
Lodge Bread Company
Natural fermentation and Israeli influences shine at Lodge Bread Company, an ambitious café and bakery from chef-partners Alexander Phaneuf and Or Amsalam. The duo expanded to Woodland Hills in 2018, but only the original Culver City location serves whole circular pizzas. The smaller Valley outpost just serves individual slices and squares. Order at the counter from a handwritten butcher paper menu and snag a table on the covered patio or in the bustling dining room. Pizzas cook behind glass in an oven that burns almond wood. Supple, pull-apart crusts include basic Margherita, plus memorable wild mushroom with Taleggio, Parmesan, chives, and thyme. Seasonal specials may involve summer squash, burrata, tomato, garlic, and charred onion; or Emma’s pea pie with mozzarella and green garlic. Lodge also crafts beautiful salads and vegetable dishes.
Milo & Olive
Milo and Olive is, first and foremost, a bakery. In fact, the location was originally sought out simply as a larger space to do the breads for owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan’s other restaurants, Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry. When they stumbled on a space with a second kitchen and seating, the game plan changed to fulfill a secondary wish: bringing a new type of hybrid California pizza to the Westside that playfully riffs on a variety of inspirations. Specifically, they wanted one that traveled well, which ruled out traditional Neapolitan. Nathan went to work creating a “bread-type crust [that] bakes slower at a lower heat … with a mix of different flours and grains.” Among the favorites are the crispy pepperoni and the mixed mushroom, as well as seasonal pizza, such as one that incorporates Texas sweet onions and finocchiona salami.
Olio GCM Wood Fired Pizzeria
Brad Kent trained at CIA and worked for chefs like Charlie Palmer and Joachim Splichal before opening the first Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria in 2010. Kent opened Olio GCM Wood Fired Pizzeria at the landmark Grand Central Market in 2014. Located in the heart of the bustling food market, Olio GCM features an eat-at counter with adjoining table seating. The Stefano Ferrara oven yields hand-stretched 10-inch wood-fired pizzas and wood-fired appetizers like Brussels sprouts and shishito peppers. Customers can customize their pizzas with Olio's market-fresh ingredients, or order combos like the signature Margherita Plus, made with local fresh burrata cheese (creamy mozzarella), tomato sauce, fresh basil, and basil-infused extra virgin olive oil. Another favorite is the Wild Mushrooms & Crispy Prosciutto - roasted shiitake, oyster and cremini mushrooms, smoked prosciutto, three cheese blend and garlic pesto. The menu also offers made-to-order salads and a selection of craft beers on tap.
Pizzana - Brentwood
Sprinkles Cupcakes founders Candace and Charles Nelson teamed with Chris and Caroline O'Donnell on Pizzana, a sleek Neapolitan-style pizzeria in Brentwood. They hired Naples-born chef Daniele Uditi to preside over a black-tiled, wood-burning oven that devours white oak. Pizza is clearly the star, with pliable two-day fermented dough singed in all the right places. Organic, stone-ground flour, San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte mozzarella all come from Italy. Their classic Margherita is fantastic, but Pizzana excels with atypical toppings. Pignatiello comes loaded with rich shredded beef “Sunday gravy,” fior di latte, Parmigiano crema, and basil. Bianca is another beautifully balanced marvel that combines fior di latte, panna, crumbled fennel sausage, raw shaved fennel, and red onion. Pizzana also serves crave-worthy specials. Pounce if they have cacio e pepe featuring sharp Parmigiano Reggiano and cracked black pepper.
It’s hard to remember a time before Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, let alone before L.A. had been turned on to Neapolitan-style pizza. While Pizzeria Mozza wasn’t the first to serve it, the buzz it generated was game changing - not surprising since co-owner/pastry chef Nancy Silverton launched an artisanal bread revolution when she opened La Brea Bakery in 1989. This is the kind of place where it’s not unusual to see people eating the naan-like pizza backwards, starting with the crust and working their way inward toward the juicy center. Some of the menu’s greatest hits include pizza with fennel sausage, panna, mozzarella, red onions and scallions; and squash blossoms, tomato and burrata.
Prime Pizza - Fairfax
Prime Pizza is a New York-style pizza joint that opened on Fairfax in October 2014, followed by a second location in Little Tokyo at the end of 2017. A collaboration between Jason Bernstein, James Starr (Golden State and Cofax) and Zak Fishman (Bludso’s), Prime Pizza offers thin crust slices and whole 20-inch pies. Standouts include the classic pepperoni and the house-made sausage with mozzarella, bell peppers and red onion. Don’t miss the addictive garlic knots with a side of marinara - crisp on the outside, soft and chewy inside, and dripping with garlicky olive oil. Delivery is available for Fairfax locals to get their pizza fix. For night owls, both locations of Prime Pizza are open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Longtime restaurant pro Caitlin Cutler and chef/husband Daniel Cutler opened their ambitious Melrose pizzeria next to The Groundlings Theatre & School in 2018. A colorful graffiti mural and light-strung patio greet diners at Ronan, which also houses a dining room with booths and an open kitchen starring a white Neapolitan pizza oven that burns white oak and displays a Jesus figurine above the mouth. They serve staple Margherita and marinara pizzas along with even more impactful signature pizzas that stray from tradition. For example, Chicago-style hot dogs inspired Michelangelo, a pizza featuring tomato sauce, mozzarella, crumbled house sausage, onion, and mustard seeds. Spicy Chomper combines spicy crumbled soppressata and quatro formaggi. Sweet Cheeks teams thin-shaved house-made guanciale, ricotta forte, and cacio e pepe honey to devastating effect. In each case, expect crust with good chew and crispy pocking.
Steve Samson and wife/partner Dina opened Superfine Pizza, a literal hole-in-the-wall down the block from their Fashion District gem, Rossoblu. The couple straddles the line between New York and Italy, baking pizzas with crispy crusts and good give in a deck oven. Pizzas are available by the slice or as whole 18-inch pizzas. Highlights include spicy salami pizza with Provolone, Grana Padano, and buckwheat honey; and a version with house-made sausage, rapini, mozzarella, ricotta, and ricotta salata. Superfine has counter seats that flank their window, but many people grab their pizza to go or order delivery. Superfine Pizza even provides a menu option for a three-pie "pizza party."
Triple Beam Pizza
Wine pro Randy Clement and chef Matt Molina were hired two days apart at Campanile, L.A.’s late, great bastion for Cal-Italian cuisine. Years later, they’re re-teamed with mentor Nancy Silverton (now of Mozza fame) on Triple Beam Pizza in Highland Park. Silverton wanted to serve Roman-style pizza for years, and finally got the chance with her long-time colleagues. Long and lean slabs bake in a four-deck Polin gas oven, resulting in crispy crusts with good chew. Pizza ($0.95 to $1.50 per ounce) is cut and weighed to order. Cartoon hands over the counter instruct customers to “Show Us How Much Pizza You’d Like” ranging from I’m Hungry (3-5 oz.) to I’m Very Hungry (6-8 oz.) and I’m Really Hungry (9 oz.). Pizzas are made using non-GMO flour, local DiStefano mozzarella, and organic Dinapoli tomatoes. In addition to classic Margherita, you’ll find combos like wild nettles with mozzarella, Fontina, and borage flowers; and crumbled sausage with mozzarella, spicy farm greens, onion, panna, and fennel pollen. Clement and wife/partner April Langford also run Highland Park Wine next door.
Two Doughs Pizza Co
Chef Chris Ansari grew up in Oak Park and worked in top restaurants like Bestia in DTLA and The Lark in Santa Barbara. He had to return home to recuperate after arm surgery and reconnected with old friend Chadwick Corcoran. The duo launched Two Doughs, serving creative Neapolitan-style pizzas made with naturally leavened dough and deep-dish pizza with more rustic dough. Their Neapolitan-style pizzas feature pocked crusts with great chew. Frenchie is a creative play on French onion soup topped with caramelized onions, garlic oil, mascarpone cheese, Gruyere, and a sunny egg that’s finished with Sherry vinegar gastrique. Their deep-dish pepperoni pizza tops soft, saucy slices with crusty melted cheese edges. Two Doughs is based in the West Valley and brings their mobile pizza ovens to Malibu Wines & Beer Garden in West Hills, a special Pizza + Wine Safari on Malibu’s Saddlerock Ranch, and Santa Monica Brew Works.
Vivace is an eye-popping food truck that chef-owner Erik Vose crafted from a shipping container, no doubt patterned after famed San Francisco truck, Del Popolo. The exhibition kitchen features a flame-red dome oven from Naples-based Mario Acunto that burns white oak and produces Neapolitan style pizza with naturally leavened dough and a 200-year-old sourdough starter. 10-12 inch pies tout fire-pocked crusts with good pull. A blackboard menu typically lists at least three options. Starting with Bianca, a savory white pie topped with olive oil, garlic, basil, Gaeta olives, and mozzarella. Spicy pepperoni with singed cups joins tomato sauce, chile flakes, and mozzarella. Margherita is a constant classic topped with traditional tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella. No matter what pizza you order, consider a side of ranch dressing to dip for just a dollar.
For updated info on Vivace stops such as The Row DTLA, LACMA, and Abbot Kinney First Fridays, visit www.vivace.la.