Though Los Angeles is an amazing city to eat out, great pizza joints are few and far between. If you are a pizza lover, you may know Village Pizzeria (near Hancock Park) or Mulberry Street Pizzeria (in Beverly Hills). Those used to be my two favorite pies, until I discovered Vito’s. Vito’s Pizza, in West Hollywood, is like no other. The place is tucked away in a mini-mall, yet has more charm than any restaurant I’ve ever been to.
The interior is the opposite of most generic wanna-be New York pizzerias that seem to pop up like whack-a-moles. It displays some of its more specialized pizzas in an artsy display case with its own lighting system, and the biggest wall is adorned with a large print of a toddler looking inquisitively at the diners. It’s almost as if the baby is saying, “How did you find this place?” It’s a refreshing change from brick walls and signatures of meaningless celebrities.
Everything about this pizza is perfect. The tomato sauce is the finest I have ever tasted, and the cheese drips off the edges of each slice due to the liberal use of tomato sauce. The crust is a classic New York crust, none of that deep-dish nonsense. I have heard ex-New Yorkers say that this is the best pizza anywhere on the West Coast.
The pizza is similarly priced to other good L.A. pizzas, at $16.50 for an 18” cheese pizza, easily enough to feed three. You can get it by the slice for $2.50. Expect big slices. They also offer deluxe pizzas that are their specialties, usually more than $20. For example, Arturo’s Wild Mushroom Pizza has giant mushrooms that add an extra kick, though it is questionable whether they are worth the extra $8.
While many pizza places churn out their food like factories, Vito’s has a cozy feel. You can chat with the Vito while he makes your pizza, or engage the friendly waitress. Vito could be a professional ventriloquist, the way he never moves his mouth when he’s talking, and when he meets a new customer who likes his pizza he smiles like a proud new mother taking compliments for her cute baby.
There is a good chance that some guy with a thick Brooklyn accent will come in and say, “ ’Ey, Vito, ‘ow’s it goin buddy! ” Everyone seems to know everyone else, but somehow you don’t feel left out at all.
It is a small restaurant, seating anywhere from 14 to 16 people inside, as well as a couple of tables outside. There is more kitchen than table space, but I’ve heard Vito say that he doesn’t want to expand. In fact, he sometimes complains that there is too much business. He said that he likes to get to know the customers, and if he had a big restaurant he couldn’t do that as much. He likes feedback on his food. He doesn’t just want his pizza to sell; he wants it to please.
A friend said something about Vito’s that is memorable and true: “You go out for pizza, and you come back with a family.”
A tip: Don’t go trying the other dishes until you’ve had the pizza. These dishes include a few pastas such as ziti, ravioli, and chicken parmesan, as well as a classic, cheesey Caesar salad. These are definitely good, but might not the best you have ever had. The pizza most likely will be.
846 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069