Saturday, July 10, 2010

EatingLA's Rules of Pizza Engagement

Lucifer's jalapeno-laden Ringburner
Like most paraprofessional eaters around here, I've tried a pretty wide range of L.A.'s often lackluster pies and have formulated a few guidelines for finding a great pizza. A recent blogger tasting at Lucifer's Pizza clarified these rules. They're my rules. You can feel free to disagree.
Rule #1: Chicken does not belong on pizza. I rue the day California Pizza Kitchen foisted the bbq chicken pizza on an unsuspecting public. I don't care if it's bbq chicken, Thai chicken satay or buffalo chicken wing pizza, it should have stayed off the pie and let better ingredients have their day.
Half-Greek, half Margarita
Rule #2: You can't recover from a bad crust. If the crust is flavorless, cardboardy, too thin or too bready, it's not gonna matter too much what the toppings are. I was pleasantly surprised by Lucifer's crust -- good flavor, good chew, nicely browned. Not as thin as a real New York-style pizza like Tomato Pie, closer to Vito's, which remains my gold standard for L.A. pizza.
Rule #3: Silly names are...well, kinda silly. I really can't get away with tweeting "Hey, that Ringburner pizza really lives up to its name!" Maybe the Glutster could, but for me it's just embarrassing. Ordering a Bayou Beast or a Cleopatra Jones at Two Boots is nearly as bad. The thing is, the Ringburner is actually pretty great, if badly named. See rule #4.
Rule #4: A pizza with no heat is good, but super spicy pizzas might be even better. The aforementioned Bayou Beast at Two Boots combines jalapenos, crawfish and andouille to a particularly good effect. The Ringburner, with pepperoni, jalapenos and hot chili sauce is equally fine. The spice level isn't for chile wimps, but it doesn't even approach most of the dishes at Jitlada. Lucifer's pizza comes in four different spice levels, because New Zealand-born owner Adam Borich simply loves spicy food. It's a little gimmicky-- "There's scary stuff in here!" said the adorable mini-Deep End Dining, of the gargoyles and devil portraits. But hey, you gotta stand out in the crowd of dozens of local pizzerias, right?

Lucifer's pumpkin proscuitto pie
Rule #5: Branch out beyond your normal order once in a while (but possibly not as far as chicken). I was a little skeptical of Lucifer's roasted pumpkin and prosciutto, but the combination of salty ham, sweet caramelized pumpkin with roast garlic and basil was way more successful than I would have thought. Similarly, I might not have ordered the Greek Lamb & Rosemary on my own, but the lamb sausage, feta and Greek olives were just different enough from the usual sausage and olive pie to take it to a whole other level. It was possibly the favorite of the group.
Lucifer's Pizza

1958 Hillhurst Ave.
(323) 906-8603


Greg The Great said...

As a Chicago transplant I have been disappointed by the pizza scene in LA. This article give me hope. Thank you.

Food GPS said...

Interesting post. I'd never really thought about spicy pizza toppings before, since that's so untraditional, but the two you mentioned sound intriguing.

Chicken has become tiresome, on pizza or otherwise, especially when it's white meat, and especially when there are more flavorful options available. Duck would be a fowl upgrade.

Charles G Thompson said...

I've eaten Lucifers Pizza a few times now and the pumpkin/prosciuotto is still a favorite. Love the spice they add too.

Gastronomer said...

Take it back, Pat! The BBQ chicken pizza at CPK is excellent ;-)

Kelly said...

Agreed on rule #1 - chicken does not belong on pizza! Love the ever so spicy Night Tripper at Two Boots... too bad it doesn't agree with my tummy!

DailyChef said...

I agree with Gastronomer - I do love a good BBQ Chicken pizza now...

Danielle said...

Hmmm, chicken not ok on pizza, but pumpkin is. Interesting

cigarcow said...

Haha, I was going to write what Danielle wrote. Chicken is no good, but pumpkin and prosciutto are a-ok?

cigarcow said...

Ewwwww chicken???? But pumpkin and prosciutto is just fine. Hahaha LOL Lots of Laughs!