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