2012 looks to continue one of the biggest LA restaurant trends of 2011: gourmet pizza, especially in the Neapolitan style. The first contender to open is 800 Degrees, from Adam Fleischman, the owner/founder of Umami Burger. I was invited to try the pizza just before it opened and I think Fleischman will have another hit on his hands. The pizza is good, but moreover it is an amazing value. The ability to have a handmade Margherita pizza for only $6 is mind boggling.
Customers enter the line near the entrance and are offered their choice of three base pizzas: Margherita ($6) with crushed tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, olive oil and basil; Bianca ($5, white pie) with fresh mozzarella, garlic, oregano, olive oil and sea salt; or a Marinara ($5, sauce but no cheese) with crushed tomato sauce, garlic oregano and olive oil. Oregano, chiles and garlic are all available as free add-ons.
Once they select their base pie, patrons have a choice of about 30 toppings, most of which are $1, including a variety of proteins, cheeses and vegetables. Note that rock shrimp, proscuitto, truffle cheese and artichokes are $3.
We began our sampling with two variations on the Margherita pie. Above just garlic was added. Below, with cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and carmelized onions. Both were enjoyable and were prepared speedily. In case you were wondering, 800 Degrees is the temperature of the pizza oven, and due to the high heat, the pizzas cook in only one to two minutes. By the time you are through the line after customizing your pie and perhaps getting a salad to go with it and paying, your pizza will be ready. It is that fast. Everything about a meal at 800 Degrees is easy - a few choices which can be customized any way you like (this is not one of those no substitutions, no changes, no exceptions joints), fast service and reasonable prices. Even the soda machine can mix and match literally hundreds of flavors, depending on your mood.
As mentioned above, the toppings are incredibly reasonably priced. Below is the Bianca with meatballs (beef), which are broken up into small bits once you order, and an additional cheese. I will certainly be back to try more variations as the convenience factor, price point and quality are an impressive combination. Pizza, toppings and a beverage for $10? You could pay more in a mall food court for a far inferior product. 800 Degrees is using ingredients from good producers; even the eggs are from organic free-range chickens.
For dessert there is Gelato from LA Creamery. The pistachio flavor was the hit of our group, although the cookies and cream was rather popular too. The gelato is also only $2.50 per scoop.
Below, the literal Ferrari of soda fountains, produces endless varieties of beverages. Vanilla root beer is my recommendation.
Another bonus is that 800 Degrees does both take-out and delivery in addition to dine-in and you can order online on their website. Quality, convenience and value and most importantly a good tasting pizza? Watch out Westwood Village.
800 Degrees: 10889 Lindbrook Drive @ Westwood Blvd, Westwood Village. | 424.239.5010 | 800degreespizza.com