by Chona, D&D Contributor (Los Angeles)
Good Stuff: Hostaria del Piccolo
Goodbye Mozza, hello Hostaria del Piccolo. Finally, a great, authentic, wood-fired oven pizza place west of the 405! It’s the latest venture of the same people behind one of LA’s hidden Italian gems – Piccolo Venice.
Located on Broadway, six blocks from the beach, Hostaria del Piccolo is housed in a schnazzy new retail/office/residence complex. The look is reclaimed wood and filament bulbs. The menu is simple and adventurous. On this particular night, we brought our kids and it’s one of those places that somehow works both as a family friendly meal and a perfect place for an intimate date.
We started with Crispy Pig’s Ears with Salsa Verde (one thing you should know about me – I never turn down anything on a menu that combines the words pig, pork, belly and crunchy in some way) and Grilled Squid on Swiss Chard. My son could not get enough of the Pig’s Ears, which were sliced thinly and perfectly deep fried. Sort of like savory, earthy, meaty potato strings. The bright acidity of the Salsa Verde was the perfect foil to the fried goodness. The Grilled Squid was heavenly – straight from a meal somewhere on the Amalfi Coast. Charred on the outside, tender and delicious inside and beautifully drizzled with a heady, fruity olive oil. The Swiss Chard was a great complement to the squid, deliciously sauteed in the same olive oil.
So far, so good. The wine list is short, sweet and reasonably priced. They clearly were inspired by Mozza’s success. However, unlike Mozza, this place has a full bar with all the requisite mixology trends in full force. I’ll have to come back to try out their very enticing cocktail list. For this meal, we opted for a nice bottle of Verdicchio.
On to the main event. They have two categories of pizzas here – pizzas with sauce and pizzas without sauce. This time around, we stuck to the sauced pizzas. We ordered a Demoni pizza (salumi picante, spicy tomato sauce and some sort of roasted peppers) and the classic Margherita. Both thin-crust pies were outstanding. The salumi was artisanal and flavorful and the generous dollops of bufalla mozarella on the Margherita were the perfect creamy balance to the acidity of the sauce. The crusts were light and crisp and they passed my own personal “doesn’t flop over when you hold it up” test. The manager came over and explained to us that they opened about a month ago and that they created a mother yeast a few months ago for all their pizzas. This yeast is now used to create all their doughs, including a gluten-free version made with kamut, soy and polenta flour.
These guys know their pizza. I can’t wait to go back and try some of the more adventurous pizzas–like the Centurion with Porchetta and artichoke hearts and the Alemagna with fries and Italian Wurstel (!).
We also couldn’t resist the small but enticing pasta offerings. My daughter had the Garganelli Pomodoro and my husband and I shared the Porcini, Truffle and Parmesan Cream pasta. Wow – the Pomodoro was perfection, a simple, delicious sauce on perfectly cooked pasta. And the Porcini Truffle pasta? What a great combination of flavors and texture. The earthiness of the porcini and truffles melded together by the creamy, savory sauce – makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
We rounded out our meal with a Nutella Pizza (this, of course, was decided before we even started the meal), which was really more a calzone. Seriously, what could be wrong with yummy dough filled with bananas and Nutella baked to golden perfection in a wood-fired oven? A great end to a great meal. I’m so glad this place is in our hood because we will back. Often.
Hostaria del Piccolo
Santa Monica, CA 90401