At this point you are probably acquainted with Neapolitan pizza, the freckled-edge pies that have dominated the authenticity-obsessed pizza scene over the past decade or so. But what about fried pizza? At the first U.S. location of Naples’s famed L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele—the same pizza spot that Julia Roberts visited in the film Eat Pray Love—pizza fritta is more elegant than it sounds, a golden raft of focaccia-like dough brushed with rich tomato sauce and blanketed in smoked mozzarella. It’s also $22—if you pay attention to that sort of thing.
Housed in the breezy open-air courtyard that was once the Hollywood hangout Café des Artistes, L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele makes fine use of a brick-lined patio in back, giving diners a front-row view through a windowed kitchen as pizzaiolos shape and toss handfuls of dough and then slide the finished creations into Fiat-size wood-fire ovens. The pizzas take a mere 45 seconds to cook, which might explain why the only toppings you’ll find on the menu—aside from tomato, basil, and mozzarella—are little slips of anchovy that cost $4. The soft, chewy pies, made with finely milled doppio zero flour and twice fermented, are simple and satisfying, cut into slices as a gesture to American diners but pliable enough that they require a knife and fork to eat without molten mozzarella dribbling down your chin. The $22 margherita pie will likely be one of the most expensive pizzas you’ve had in L.A., sure, but it’s still cheaper than a flight across the Atlantic to Italy.
There are other reasons to head to L’Antica Pizzeria besides the namesake pies. A salami-and-cheese plate comes layered with gorgeous Prosciutto di Carpegna, smoked capicola, wedges of ripe gorgonzola and soft robiola cheese, and a bowl of sun-dried tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts. You should probably try the softball of fresh burrata smothered with sweet-sour stewed eggplant and tomatoes as well as the breaded squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta, which show up on most tables (yes, there is a lot of cheese here).
The long front bar is a wonderful spot to sip a Peroni or some of the many southern Italian wines (cocktails are coming soon), which along with a few slices of pizza and a spoonful or two of tiramisu are all you really need to enjoy the splendor of a warm Hollywood evening. Is L.A. really in need of another Neapolitan pizza place? Maybe not. But L’Antica exudes just enough Italian charm to make itself feel at home.
1534 N. McCadden Pl., Hollywood, damicheleusa.com.
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