Today was one of those days. I had a terrible headache and was not about to work late into the night. As I pulled out of the parking lot I realised that I had three days' worth of meals and four days in which to eat them -- whoops. I had also driven to work, which is unusual.
"Hm. I wonder how far Vito's is? Everyone raves about it. It'll be just like all the other so-called New York style pizza parlours but I might as well see."
A couple of minutes (pulled over to the side, natch!) on the nav system and I realised that Vito's is not, er, exactly on the way from Burbank to Anaheim.
By this point, though, I had the chase in my heart and lust in my... never mind. My mind did its best ("you know that at any given moment in the City of West Hollywood there are three parking spots and all three are taken by men with less body fat than your ring finger, right?") but it was no chance.
God must have wanted me to eat at Vito's, because every single traffic light -- yes, every one all the way down Olive, all the way down Highland, out through Boystown on SM Blvd. -- was green and clear of traffic. It took me twelve minutes to get there. There was even -- GASP -- parking in the lot (it's in an ugly little incongruous minimall on the east side of the street).
I walked in. There were pies congealing in the display in the front and all of like 10 tables in the restaurant. I was one of two people in there (okay, it was REALLY early -- dinner in WeHo is from 7-9 PM, this was like 5:30). Vito was puttering around in the back, and Tony Squared were up at the counter and making dough.
"Two slices sausage and a slice plain," I said.
"This your first time here?" asked Tony.
"Yep. Some people told me this is where it's at."
"Then the plain slice is on me. You wanna drink?"
"You got it."
I sat down with my Diet Coke and scoped out the decor while I waited. Not the actual decor -- it's a fake art deco minimall with those God-awful f***ing glass block walls. No, I mean the pizza decor. You can tell a LOT about a pizzeria by what's on the tables. Linen napkins? Not the right place. Powdered "parmesan" cheese and hot peppers? Owned by people who've never been east of Pittsburgh (which is still the Midwest as far as pizza is concerned). Red and white checkered tablecloths? Maybe, but more likely trying too hard. We New Jerseyites (and those other, lesser, f***in' New Yorkers) eat our pizza with dried oregano and powdered garlic.
Vito's has paper napkins in appropriately boring metal napkin dispensers, white butcher paper on the tables, and while the Parmesan and hot peppers were on the table, tucked up on the counter above the dough prep area was the good stuff.
The pizza came out and the smell made tears rose to my eyes. I'm getting misty just thinking about it. I'm trying to remain calm but
THIS IS THE BEST F***ING PIZZA I'VE HAD WEST OF THE DELAWARE RIVER, EVER AT ANY TIME BAR NONE BOY HOWDY. STOP READING THIS, HAUL ASS UP THERE AND GET SOME.
It was... perfect. The sauce had that peculiarly New York tang to it (what causes that, anyway??), the cheese was right and just barely starting to brown in parts, the crust was FLAT but still chewy, the sausage was sliced off actual sausages and not that rabbit-pellet crap everyone else uses.
"How d'ya like it?" asked the other Tony.
"Mmmmrffffff mrrffff fmmmmm-mm LMMMMF MMMMF," I replied.
"That good, huh?"
*swallow* "I grew up in Woodbridge, New Jersey. This tastes like home."
"Really? We're from Elizabeth."
"Oh, my dad was a cop there."
We ended up talking for a while. It was delicious, the banter was just what it is at home (with the same accent -- the other guy in there was from Garfield, N.J. and had his accent intact. Mine's been ruined by years of vocal training), it was perfect.
Go. Try it. If you're lucky enough to live in West Hollywood, they'll deliver or do carryout. They're not one of those "la la la, we are the special pizza, you will come to us, ha ha" places -- it's the pizzeria of my youth transported to the Land of Drag Queens and Club Kids. Lucky club kids. Me, I'm thinking about the logistics of getting an entire fresh pie home to Anaheim intact. Maybe if they par-bake it and I finish it in an oven set to 550 F... hm.
846 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069