Guys, I love food. If I wasn't a nurse or a neuroscientist or a mama or an amateur blogger, maybe I would be a food critic. (Mm, better not). But lately I've been thinking that because I live in this fabulous city of unique and delicious food, I should highlight some of that excellent food each week. And what better restaurant to begin with than my favorite restaurant in LA, 800 Degrees?
Located on Lindbrook Drive in Westwood Village, there is frequently a long line snaking out of the doors of 800 degrees, which in a past life belonged to a theater. Don't be dissuaded by the queue, though -- the line moves quickly as chefs build your pizza before your eyes.
There is little parking available on the street, but parking garages abound on nearby streets. One of them, on Gayley, is reputedly $6.00 after hours, but half the time there isn't an attendant present, in which case it is free (shh!).
Nearby are several shops, dessert places, and a movie theater.
The long lines look intimidating, but I have never waited more than 20 minutes. The interior likewise is very crowded, but tables usually clear out by the time one gets through the line (although there have been a few instances where I had to wait a few minutes).
The building itself is very interesting, having been a theater in its past life. There are a few lovely chandliers hanging. There is also a taxidermized water buffalo above the door, because, you know, why not?
Right, the important part. The first thing you need to know is that 800 Degrees serves Neapolitan pizza. This isn't the same as American pizza -- it has its own special little society "to promote and protect in Italy and worldwide the true Neapolitan pizza." (See the AVPN website). The crust is very thin, you are meant to eat the entire pizza yourself, and you are usually going to need a knife and fork.
At 800 Degrees, diners have the option of selecting a pre-designed pizza or building their own from one of four bases -- the margherita, which has basil, tomato sauce, and mozzarella; the marinara, which is exactly what it sounds like; the verde, which is pesto and mozzarella; and the bianca, which has no sauce (not my favorite, if you want my opinion). Next, diners have the choice from an array of vegetables, cheeses, and meats.
The variety of toppings are what really make 800 Degrees stand out among other Neapolitan pizzerias. While my usual standard Neapolitan pie is the traditional margherita, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil, at 800 Degrees I have to go all out. The toppings I find most tempting are the heirloom cherry tomatoes, the fromage du chevre (goat cheese), and the soppresata (a traditional, spicy Italian salami). The best combination I've tried so far is a verde pie with double cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and pine nuts.
800 Degrees also makes excellent salads, which complement the pizza very well. One of their simpler salads, consisting of greens, lemon juice, and shaved parmesan, has become a staple in our home. They also have a burrata bar (burrata is soft, creamy mozzarella cheese) and gelato, but I have not sampled either of these. To top it off, they have a soft drink machine. I know it sounds tacky, but it is really hard to find caffeine-free Diet Coke in LA, and not only do they have it, but I can get it with cherry, vanilla, lime, orange, or raspberry flavoring. Win.
Cost: $ Very reasonable
Hours: 11 am - 2 am
Address: 10889 Lindbrook Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (More locations soon to come).