Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pitfire Artisan Pizza: I (highly) recommend it

A few months ago, my friend Ashley called me asking for a casual, yet good restaurant on the Westside, near her mom and her hotel just south of Westwood.

I thought for a minute, debating the various options – sushi, ramen, Mexican -- then piped up with excitement, “How about Pitfire Pizza?”

They went, they ate, they liked, and I patted myself on the back.

A month ago, I received an IM from a co-worker asking me if I knew of an upscale pizza place, again, on the Westside, where she and a friend could order gourmet pies for their girl’s night in.

A smug smile stole across my face – hah, this was an easy one!

“Pitfire Pizza is your best bet.” I typed without hesitation, then sent her a link to the on-line menu with the commandment, “Order the burrata pizza.”

She complied, had a great night with her friend, and I, again, patted myself on the back.

Given my quickness to recommend the artisan pizzeria that also has locations in North Hollywood, Downtown and, come January 23rd, Culver City, one would expect that I must be a frequent patron. I wouldn’t tell people to go some place and order something that I’ve never tried, would I? It would be akin to texting in a vote for a contestant on “American Idol” without ever watching the show. Or nodding in agreement when someone asks, “Don’t you luuuuuve Italy?” when the only stamp in your passport is for Tijuana, Mexico.

It would be crazy.

I would be crazy.

Which I am – just a little bit.


I suppose I should feel guilty about telling my friends to go to restaurant I’ve never been to before, but after attending the soft opening of the new Culver City Pitfire Pizza this past Thursday night (as the restaurant’s guest), my behavior seems completely justified. Some might even call it (and me) perfectly sane for doing so.

Pitfire Artisan Pizza is not just another pizza place on the corner with sticky red vinyl booths, metal napkin receptacles and pitchers of watered down soda. There aren’t Pac-Men machines in the corner, parents attempting to force down slick slices of their kids’ over-cheesed selections, or limp “Caesar” salads composed of browning romaine lettuce and a single from-the-box crouton.

Pitfire’s red wood-burning pizza oven fires up pies topped with nitrate-free pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, inch long pieces of basil, and fresh produce from the Santa Monica farmer’s market. A mushroom pizza is luxuriously coated with Fontina cheese, crème fraiche, mushroom jus, and flat leaf parsley. The aforementioned burrata pie turns sweet caramelized onions, arugula, hazelnuts, and pesto into fast friends.

This attention to detail and commitment to using only the freshest ingredients doesn’t stop at the pizza. The roasted vegetable platter, bursting with seasonal selections from the farmer’s market like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, is gorge-worthy – particularly when paired with the whipped ricotta (also a revelation when applied to the restaurant’s warm flatbread).

The Pitfire chicken salad with wild arugula, butter lettuce, pickled currants, and pine nuts is similarly impressive. The chicken is sous-vide, then roasted in the oven for color, and the meaty hunks of bread croutons are made in-house. Both the salad and vegetables make a compelling case for me to henceforth suggest the restaurant to my health conscious acquaintances when they are looking for a “light lunch” in the area, as well.
And, when I get a panicked call from a most likely female friend with a desperate craving for a chocolate chip cookie – a thick, chewy one that is loaded with chocolate shavings – I can similarly direct her to Pitfire. The restaurant bakes their supremely satisfying version twice throughout the day for their patrons who aren’t content to end their meal on a savory note.

Finally, for the wino whose face pales at the sight of a pitcher of beer or fountain selections, there is wine. A robust Malbec, a crowd-pleasing Poppy Pinor Noir, and a Chardonnay that isn’t oaky, among other choices.

When taken together, it seems decidedly sane that I told my friends and friends of friends to rush over to Pitfire Pizza for a meal. The only thing that makes me the slightest bit crazy (which, again, I rarely ever am), is that I didn’t get there sooner myself.

Pitfire Artisan Pizza - Culver City
12924 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
*Scheduled to open January 23rd


Gastronomer said...

Oh, what a fun night! Has Pitfire surpassed Mozza as your fave pizza joint? All they need is chicken livers on the apps menu!

Futile Sniffer said...

That veggie platter looks amazing! :)

Diana said...

Cathy - Hah, no comment.

Meg - It was! I would go back for that alone! And maybe the cookie too. ;)

Alessandra said...

The pizza looks amazing! I want some!

Nicole said...

YUM! I love Pitfire Pizza! I can't remember the pizza that I used to get there all the time. YUM...awesome review! :)

The Active Foodie said...

I love Pitfire's burrata pizza, it's one of my essential go to places for lunch downtown!

Ashley said...

I got take out from there recently. Good and convenient, but nothing will surpass Mozza!

Anna A. said...

That shroom pizza looks worthy of a rec. I'd take your word for it before/after.

Diana said...

Ali - Come visit me and you can have all the pizza you want! :)

Nicole - I remember reading your yelp review for it back when you still lived in LA. I think that's part of why I always recommended it -- if you liked it, it had to be good!

Sonja - You are lucky to work so close! Though the Culver City/Westwood locations aren't toooo far from my work either.

Ashley - Agreed. But Mozza doesn't have chocolate chip cookies! :)

Anna - The mushroom pizza was good, but the pepporoni was my favorite.

e*star said...

CRAP! I missed the cookie!! Guess I will have to go back... It was fun hanging out with you!

SinoSoul said...

Like I was telling BBPR & Mr. Hibler, these pies, at $10, are better than PMozza's. Less greasy, dough with less tensile but still great chew, unsoggy centers.

Too bad all the cookies were gone by the time I got home.

Diana said...

Esther - It was a gooooood cookie. Worth going back for! Hope we can hang out again soon!

Tony - Again, no comment. But I did think that pepperoni pizza was top notch.

yutjangsah said...

Thanks for taking me as your guest. It was delish!

SinoSoul said...

Uhm, I demand a comment. You're not Nancy's bitch, it's ok to NOT like her $$$ pie as much.


Btw, cute new banner. Super cute. Matches your bathroom.