Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Los Angeles is in the midst of a pizza renaissance. In the past few months we've seen a ton of openings such as Mother Dough in Los Feliz, Urbano in Downtown, Sotto in West LA and Stella Rossa in Santa Monica and more are to come including a pizzeria from Adam Fleishman of Umami Burger. The opening of Pizzeria Mozza in November of 2006 began the wave, which appears to be cresting this year.
Jeff Mahin, pictured above, is the pizzaiolo at Stella Rossa. The restaurant on Main Street in Santa Monica shares an entrance with M Street Kitchen, in the former La Grande Orange space. Mahin has a fine dining background, cooking most recently in Chicago at L2.0, a restaurant which shares the same owner as Stella Rossa. During a recent meal sitting at the bar in front of the pizza oven, Mahin seemed affable and calm.
The crust on the Margherita pizza had a good consistency with nice crispness, but it was a tad too thick for my taste. When I lifted up a slice, there was no droop at all, it remained flat like a cracker. The tomato sauce was the weakness for me in that I found it bland. More herbs would have suited it better.
The mushroom pizza was more successful, perhaps because it did not have the tomato sauce. The Shaved Mushroom pizza had gruyère cheese, melted onions, black truffle, torn parsley, rosemary, thyme on it in addition to the eponymous shaved mushrooms. The fragrance of the truffle was evident. I had some of the leftovers for breakfast the next day and they were better than they were at dinner. Such things may be mysteries of the universe or the crust may have changed consistency in my refrigerator. We will never know but I am glad for the end result.
FYI, Stella Rossa is loud, so don't go for an intimate conversation. I think Jay Weston was smoking crack when he claimed that Stella Rossa serves the best pizza in town, perhaps the world. Who knows what kind of mushrooms were on his pizza. It wasn't even the best pizza I had last month, which was Urbano.
Stella Rossa: 2000 Main Street, Santa Monica. Phone: (310) 396-9250. Website: http://stellarossapizzabar.com/