Joe's Pizza Scores a "10"!
Santa Monica, CA
My penchant for pizza – then called Abeets – probably began at Pancrazi Italian restaurant, perpendicular to the Park Plaza Theater in the Bronx. Every Saturday night when my father came home from work, he, my mother, sister Seena and I would walk the five long blocks to have our Saturday night special: a large cheese pizza with Cokes.
Joe, our rotund waiter, would deliver it about thirty minutes after taking the order and between the smell and those amazing black dots of dough atop the pie, and the knowledge of what lay ahead, all my senses were stimulated.
This marked the beginning of my search for the best pizza in Los Angeles, because when I arrived here fifty-four years ago, good pizza was still mostly an unknown quantity.
"Piece of Pizza"("Had a piece lately?") satisfied but only minimally – "Barone's" has been very good but is certainly not like the pizzas in New York. "Barbera's" on Wilshire was truly wonderful but they sold out for over a million dollars years ago and were never heard from again. "Vitello's" is good, really good, but their neighbor across the street, on Tujunga, "Caioti" is grrreat! And a new entry, "Pizza Mozza" does an excellent job with Ms. Silverton's developing a truly crunchy dough but the pie is small and expensive.
And then along came Joe Vitale, just a few months ago. He opened a small place at 111 Broadway in Santa Monica and all he serves are pizzas, calzones and salad. His pizzas are enormous in the "Mulberry Street" fashion but they're absolutely delicious. Those black holes are there; the crunch is in every bite, the cheese is sticky; the tomato sauce is the right consistency; the pepperoni is righteously nippy; the sausage is sweet; the mushrooms melt in your mouth.
Joe learned his craft in Sicily where he was born. He developed his style on Bleecker Street in New York at his first location. He came here a few months ago and found his store on Broadway and Frank and Matt, his partners and he created a "Ten" Pizzeria. Slices go for either $2.50 or $3; whole pizzas begin at $17 with a $3 charge for each separate ingredient added.
In addition, he offers a white pie (yum), a Sicilian pie (double yum), a caprese pie (triple yum) and anything you can think up for your pleasure. His knowledge, affability and attention to details is phenomenal as are all the workers in his midst. He calls his pizza "a slice of history". I'd label it "Fantabulous!" Don't forget to tell Joe that Joseph sent you. He likes me a lot.
Joe's Pizza, 111 Broadway @ Ocean Ave, Santa Monica CA 90401, 310-395-9222, www.joespizza.com
Primarily take out but there are several tables and bar stools for eating in.