If you live in Los Angeles and love a good old fashioned wood-fired pizza pie, chances are you’ve visited a Pitfire establishment once or twice. This unique pizza chain stands out among most other pizza slingers for its consistently chewy crust, unexpected combinations of top-shelf ingredients, great beer menu, and thoughtful variety of seasonal specials (after all, a “pumpkin pizza” should be fresh from the patch). Each Pitfire location is a little different, but has a distinctly welcoming feel. Kind of like a local bar, but quieter.
When I moved to Downtown LA, I ordered my first pizza at Pitfire – the Burrata Pie. This tomato sauce/kale pesto pie is covered in wild arugula, hazelnuts, and caramelized onions. I’d never heard of burrata – Italian for “buttered” – before, but you can imagine how a buttery cheese would complement the above ingredients (it works amazingly well, like a “7-layer” pizza).
Soon afterwards, I discovered the erratic Garage Pizza (just one block from my apartment). But after several Garage visits spent staring at perpetual sports programming on their flat screen, wondering if these jokers have forgotten about my order – or worse (as has happened to me at Garage once, or twice): delivered to another customer by mistake. How does that happen? The Garage employees’ barely hospitable attitudes have a tendency to make me feel like I actually am intruding in their personal garage, forced to endure their ear-splitting cool-guy jam session blaring from their speakers. What a joke. But I’m thankful, in a way, since these shitty experiences drove me back to my beloved Pitfire.
I make a bee-line for the creamy, mellow Burrata pie any time I have the hankering for the good stuff in my hood. The Burrata Pie is definitely the showstopper, but there are many other specialty pies on the menu, like “Green Eggs & Ham” (the “green” is tender broccolini) and the “Sausage Party” (’nuff said). One individual-sized pizza is definitely enough for one meal (around $10), but I usually plan to over-do it on my Pitfire visits: I must have the Farmer’s Market plate every time. This plate’s rotating selection of fresh, local ingredients are always prepared with panache and are a great variety for someone who has an open mind. The plate is an ever-changing dream for vegetarians: roast mushrooms, herbed citrus bread crumbs, ginger tomato jam, ricotta, grilled “rustic” bread, roasted brussels sprouts (when am I ever gonna eat brussels sprouts? No time like the present), salsa verde (very verde), chile roasted pumpkin, and garlic oil. Farmer’s Market selections can also be ordered as a side item for a few dollars if you suspect that the chile roasted pumpkin will make you gag.
A new, massive Pitfire just opened near Trader Joe’s in Pasadena. Other new locations are in the works as well. They even cater, with some very reasonable packages. Soon, you’ll have no conceivable reason to ever go to Garage Pizza.