9.14.2014

Still the best pizza in L.A.!

the line extends pass the waiting room and onto the sidewalk
New York transplants are obligated to say, "There's no good pizza in L.A." in order to maintain their street cred. They don't want others thinking they've gone soft. I'm not a New Yorker and am not privy to such pretension, but I have my own pizza-related issues. Namely, that I've never liked it. Until recently that is. As a child, when our family ordered pizza I'd opt for the side of buffalo wings. Throughout college I'd endure countless comments from my cohorts. "What's wrong with you?" they'd gasp, as if I had an actual answer to that question. They were just as incredulous when they found out I had never watched Star Wars. I tried multiple times, but got too bored. It's the same with pizza.

In fact, I kept trying pizza at everyone's advice. I was sure I'd stumble upon that magical slice that would turn me over to their side. There was an Aladdin's Express on Broad Street in Richmond, run by a Muslim family from New York. I was actually impressed by their pie! As I enjoyed my giant thin-crust pizza slice, employees would roll out mats in the middle of the dining floor and bow eastward to Mecca. But I graduated college, moved to Los Angeles and once again found myself in Papa John's hell. I stumbled upon a frozen pizza in the grocery store. Gino's Pizza was only $1.19 for a single serve pie, so I didn't have much to lose. It was incredible, and I couldn't understand why it was so cheap. "Because it's disgusting, that's why," each consecutive roommate blasted. They hadn't even tried it, and wouldn't, assuming the cost meant the company was hiding a dark secret.

After 11 years in Los Angeles, I was invited to a dinner at Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock. "Eagle Rock?" I asked. I knew it was an up-and-coming neighborhood, but there is bad pizza everywhere, so why go there? "It's the best pizza in L.A., that's why." This unassuming Mom and Pop shop has been around for over half a century, started by Italian immigrants from Chicago. Our party needed reservations way in advance, and when we got there, the people waiting in line spilled from the indoor lobby to the outside benches. This place meant business!
I love an old school cash register
Consider this: Everyone says that even bad pizza is good pizza. So not many can be trusted when asked where the best pizza place is. Myself of the other hand, finds most pizza intolerable. So if I say the pizza is to die for, in addition to the rest of this city agreeing it's the best in the land, it must be. And Casa Bianca is. 

The crust is crispy, then chewy. The thin slices are loaded with gooey cheese and a savory mix of mystery spices that set it apart from all others. I can finally say that I love pizza. Unfortunately, this alone will not convince others that I'm now normal, but it's a delicious place to start.

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