By Andy J. Gordon
Finding a good slice of pizza in Los Angeles is a difficult challenge. What makes a good slice? From the perspective of a native New Yorker, a thin crispy crust, sweet tangy sauce, and gooey, rich mozzarella cheese are the essentials. Joe’s Pizza really nails it. With New York City locations on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, and Kings Highway in Brooklyn operating since 1975, Joe Vitale has ventured west to show Los Angeles how to do pizza right.
In 2007, Joe took a chance on a small location in Santa Monica near the pier. He brought his son, Joe, Jr., with him to help run the fledgling operation. His authentic thin crust masterpieces caught on quickly with the locals and tourists alike. Now he is offering his hot, fresh Italian favorites to the West Hollywood crowd on Sunset Boulevard. Joe’s is along the Sunset Strip between the House of Blues and the Viper Room. Nestled in a mini-strip mall that has free underground parking, Joe’s location is an oasis in a neighborhood notorious for obnoxious valets and overpriced lots.
Once you get out of your safely parked car, the wafting aroma of sizzling pizza will hit your nose. Inside, Joe’s has the look of a basic New York style pizza place. There are a few booths for dining in, and counter space for watching the magic and picking up to-go orders. The cheese, pepperoni, and mushroom slices I tried were excellent. You can choose from all of the traditional toppings, with artichokes being Joe’s one concession to California chic.
Unlike many Los Angeles pizza pretenders, there is no grease on his pies, with a perfect crunch, a delicate blend of tomatoes and spices, and just the right amount of cheese. Joe attributes his success to good ingredients and the knowledge of many years doing it right. To ensure consistent quality, Joe has Raf and Jose running the pizza ovens, both of who have been with him for 17 years. Jose keeps things humming at the Santa Monica location, while Joe, Joe Jr., and Raf will oversee the new West Hollywood spot.
Joe’s Pizza (www.joespizza.com) offers a full array of pies as well as pizza by the slice. You can also get traditional heroes, pasta dishes, and salads. Soda, tea, and water are available by the bottle, but sadly, no beer or wine. Eat-in dining is strictly casual, and delivery is available. The hours have been set to accommodate the Sunset Strip night owls in search of a quick bite. For a truly authentic slice of the Big Apple, check out Joe’s Pizza.
8539 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Mon-Thurs 10am to 2am; Fri and Sat 10am to 3am; and Sun 11am to 12am
111 Broadway at Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Photos by Andy J. Gordon.