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While My Za'atar Gently Weeps

Sarah Perry | Apr 18, 2012 08:23 PM

I have lived near Little Armenia for years, and I've had lots of lahmahjoun, sometimes called Armenian pizza - flatbread topped with seasoned ground beef. The ones I've had have usually been sad, soggy affairs. Only recently, after trying the manaish (aka manakish) (aka Armenian pizza) at Shanto's Bakery, did I realize that I'd never had a good version.

Shanto's Bakery is basically a pizza place - they specialize in Lebanese flatbread (manaish, manakish), and the pies come out of the oven with a nanometer-thin layer of crispy on the bottom, chewy and perfect the rest of the way through the thin crust. My favorite topping is esfiha, a tart, rich mix of ground beef, pomegranate, and spices. Za'atar (thyme and mixed herbs) is intensely savory, a beautiful dish with or without cheese or lebne. Kashkaval cheese with honey is great hot out of the oven and doubly great cold as a midnight snack.

It's one of those places where the food has no right to be as good as it is for the money. I put its pizzas up there with the Oaks Gourmet in Hollywood, which is on my block and which I eat all the time, but Oaks charges $10-12 for a pizza and Shanto's is more like $3-4. (No duck confit or barata on the Shanto's pizzas, but Shanto's ingredients are undeniably high quality.)

To-go pies are charmingly served folded in half in wax paper and a paper bag, calzone-style.

I should mention that my boyfriend can't eat gluten, but he loves this place and demands to go regularly - he just eats the toppings off the pizza and doesn't eat the bread!

Shanto's Bakery
3747 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta

LA Weekly review - http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

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