My tongue sings with pleasure as the sweet tomato sauce saunters forth from beneath the light application of mozzarella cheese and heady hunks of shiitake and oyster mushrooms. I stare at my dining companions in bewilderment. It’s so simple, but paralyzing good.
They nod with knowing smiles.
I shake my head and take another bite. An entire shiitake mushroom comes with it, assaulting my mouth with its intense earthy flavor. I fold the piece in half like a New Yorker and attack it again – I feel like I’ve been reborn.
I’ve been to Vito’s Pizza, the much-praised NY-style pizzeria on La Cienega in West Hollywood, a handful of times in the past three years. The counter service is charmingly perfunctory, the pizza is reliably good, and it’s an easy place to run into to grab a couple slices when the effort of cooking seems too taxing.
In the past, I’ve always ordered the same thing – two slices of the Mediterranean Veggie Pie ($3.50 each) that comes with marinated spinach, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and the piece-de-resistance, luscious dollops of sweet ricotta. I love smearing the pillows of cheese across the slice for an even application, and always feel some what virtuous about my selection because of the ample amounts of spinach and fresh vegetables. It’s a comforting dinner that’s not too uncomfortable to consume.
Because I’ve always dined in or taken away slices, I never knew that Arturo’s Wild Mushroom Pizza that comes in one 18’’ size for $28.50 even existed. Its deliciousness eluded me for years as I blindly went about my business ordering Vito’s veggie pizza by the slice. This could have gone on forever had I not impetuously decided to join my two friends for dinner at their gorgeous new West Hollywood home that night.
“I should go.” I’d said, not wanting to intrude on their quiet Sunday evening.
“Stay!” My friend had insisted. “We can’t order an entire pizza for just ourselves!”
So I’d listened. I’d relaxed into the wooden back of my barstool, and then, when the pizza came, I timidly took my slice after they’d selected theirs first.
There’s no timidity now. The first slice gone, I reach for a second. Then a third. I dust it with parmesan, smear it with Terroni’s peperoncini piccanti that my friends keep in the fridge next to the wine and beer, and chomp and chew like I have no where else in the world I’d rather be.
It’s the perfect Sunday, and it’s the perfect NY-style pizza. This is what I’ve been missing.
846 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069