JohnnieÕs Pizzeria & Cafe, 10251 Santa Monica Blvd, Century City. Five other locations. Trouble with chain pizzerias is that all their prep work is done at a central commissary, leaving very little work for the local cooks. Just slap the toppings on the ready-to-go shell and slide it into the oven. Despite their claim that they use home-made sauce, the look and taste was like extra-thick tomato paste, no olive oil, practically seasonings-free. The cheese tasted like the rubbery near-synthetics promoted by the dairy conglomerates - it congealed into a gummy mass before our eyes. But the most disappointing constituent of this pie was the crust. This was by far the densest, heaviest crust we have ever encountered. Each slice must have weighed a pound. Clunk!
JohnnieÕs has a good story going - they use filtered water to approximate New York City water; large black & white photographs of NYC streets hung on the walls; the manÕs personal pizza research explained on the menu. In fairness, service was excellent, very attentive. On a scale of 0-10, in my book JohnnieÕs rates a 3. (We also tried their Marina location - same result).
The skilled pizzaiolos are dying out. By now they must have all disappeared. ThereÕs no one left to pound and slap the pizza dough by hand to activate the gluten, toss and spin it in the air to make the edges thicker than the center. No one uses whole milk or buffala mozarella any more. The fashion is to pile on tons of cheese, prefab commercial sauce, and major quantities of toppings. Oh well...........progress.