THE PIZZA DIARIES: EASTSIDE EDITION
(Silverlake, Echo Park, Los Feliz)
Introducing The Pizza Diaries, the quest to find the perfect slice of Los Angeles ‘za. The stipulation: by-the-slice only.
Los Angeles boasts a myriad of delicious, gourmet pizza places. Pop-ups, food trucks, gourmet and takeaway, amazing variations on the traditional cuisine abound the city. There are options for days: flatbread, brick oven, wood fired, vegan, deep dish, eclectic, thin crust, grilled, organic or hand tossed. But sometimes, a girl just needs a cheap, dirty and delicious slice.
The Pizza Diaries is an ongoing endeavor to find the best slices in LA. The on-a-budget diet the week before your student loans are due. The drunken slices, the 4am deadline slices, the breakfast slices and where to find them. The Pizza Diaries aims to dissect the underground LA slice scene to find the very best slices for every occasion.
Here we have my notes of the best by-the-slice of the Eastside (Silverlake, Echo Park, Los Feliz).
A hole-in-the-wall pizza joint on the corner of Hyperion and Tracy St in Silverlake, Tomato Pie Pizza Joint is a delicious hybrid of retro pizza diner and New York style ‘za. It’s easy to miss, but that’s what makes it the more worthwhile. The interior décor is staged like a vintage pizza diner, and the back patio is perfect for group & party pizza hangs.
The friendly staff helped us decide on a slice of the classic “grandma” (Margherita). The crust is comparable to the delicacy of East Coast ‘za – crispy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside. It wasn’t too greasy or cheesy – the proportions were just right. Additional props for creative pie names such as ‘Prosciutto Happiness’ & the ‘Ruthie Swan’. To paraphrase: cheesy, fresh, fast and delicious – this is the way by-the-slice should be.
2457 Hyperion Ave
Ah, Garage Pizza – the Silverlake staple for 4am crust calls. This divebar pizza joint sits in a shopping complex on the corner of Sunset and Fountain across from Mickey D’s. The small shop is covered in band promo stickers and buzz of local promos, giving it a cool, grungy, locals-rule vibe. Major points for offering vegan slice options. The slices are generously foldable, and generally ready in a few seconds, although if you choose to custom-order a slice (a nice and rare option for by-the-slice joints), the hungry wait can feel like you’re watching icecaps melt. It’s worth it. Garage is the perfect late night ‘za snack that LA needs more of.
Also noteworthy are the stellar ice cream floats: vanilla ice cream with any one of their regular or vintage soda pop flavors.
4339 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
This is as traditional as it gets, folks. Tucked in the corner of the shopping complex of Hyperion and Griffith Park Blvd, Hard Times Pizza serves the basics of by-the-slice, with a few exceptions (Vegan & Korean BBQ options). This is what I describe as bowling alley pizza: thin, skimpy, a little stale, but perfect in the right occasion. It’s what you expect from an old-fashioned pizzeria, and it gets the job done. The staff is friendly, the pizza is ready to serve, and it’s dirt-cheap. Good pizza for game watching or ordering with a group of friends. If you’re hungry, broke, and in the area, it’s worth a stop into Hard Times. I wish they were open later.
2664 Griffith Park Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
What Hard Times Pizza lacks in ambiance, Nicky D’s makes up for. Their outdoor patio is cozy and comfortable. It feels like a rustic log cabin ski lodge dropped in Southern California. Which is kind of what the pizza tastes like too – ski lodge pizza. If you’re more of a fork-and-knife style pizza eater, then you will definitely enjoy Nicky D’s. The crust is beyond New York thin; so thin that it cannot bear the weight of its toppings. The slices are definitely sized generously, but it’s a trade-in for the copious amount of oil and grease that saturate the already delicate crust. Don’t even try to pick up a slice; you will risk a cheesy, saucy avalanche.
Had I been inebriated, a greasy slice of Nicky D’s would have been exactly the type of slice on my radar. That said, Nicky D’s is a perfect hangout spot for a large group of people to relax and throw back a few beers. The patio lends itself to large groups, and the pizza + beer combos are like Bonnie & Clyde. So wrong, but just so right.
Bonus points for the hilarious sign of whom I assume is Sir Nicky D himself. That sign takes confidence.
2764 Rowena Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
This Echo Park gem is conveniently located between Origami Vinyl and the Echoplex, making it the perfect pre or post-show pit stop. Plus, I’ve learned to always trust a pizza joint next door to a record shop. The two tend to go in tandem. A hybrid of New York and New Orleans style pie, Two Boots serves up ‘za that is thin, crispy, never overcooked, and always satisfying. The slices are generous and creatively named – the white pie ‘Night Tripper’, garlicky ‘Larry Tate’, and classic ‘Grandma Bess’ just to name a few. I give Two Boots the most points for location and atmosphere, bonus points for the eclectic folk artsy walls. Its central location in hipster heaven lends itself to a loyal pizza following, plus it’s open till 2:30 AM.
I’m not sure that I’ve actually had Two Boots sober, but I am sure that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it every time. Regardless of your coherency or BAC levels, Two Boots Pizza is a guaranteed slam-dunk by-the-slice.
1818 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
According to the table at the window, Cheech’s is “absolutely the best tasting pizza on the planet!” Hm, that’s bold. This Los Feliz dig set my expectations high – perhaps too high. Cheech’s is like the grown-up version of lunchables. Or middle school cafeteria pizza. It has a ridiculously bland and doughy crust; sweet, sugary sauce; and gooey, thick 2% milk string cheese topping. But don’t let me deter you – if you’re one of the plenty of folks that dig lunchables and are looking for a more mature option, then Cheech’s is the ‘za for you.
As one of Los Feliz’s rare by-the-slice pizza joints, Cheech’s attracts local and dedicated patrons. It’s definitely not East Coast style slices, but it’s a nice deviation from the norm.
2116 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
If I missed any Eastside by-the-slice options, or you have suggestions for future reviews for The Pizza Diaries, leave me a note in the comments! Let me know what your favorite by-the-slice options are for every occasion.