Wait, wait, don’t serve me

Good on the boys in blue this weekend. They’re amazing, I tell you what. A.J. Ellis, Jerry Hairston, Chris Capuano … I see Butch and Sundance of the Houston Astros looking down the canyon and asking, “Who are those guys?”

* * *

There’s this relatively new pizzeria in Westwood, 800 Degrees, that I just find fascinating. Its calling card, essentially, is that it replicates the experience of waiting in the worst Dodger Stadium food line you’ve ever encountered, topped off by the lack of urgency or even regret over the time it takes to service a given customer.

The product, implicitly, is worth a pilgrimage of infinite time … which in reality, isn’t the case. The pizza is plenty good, but hardly lifechanging. Yet typically – if you’ve had a different experience, tell me – the line out the door is somewhere between 50 and 100 people.

Once you order your food, it’s prepared right in front of you, cooked in what I gather is the oven to beat all ovens, and ready to serve fresh and hot within five minutes. There’s a rule against saving seats in the restaurant until your food arrives – a rule that gets broken by some patrons, to our judgmental annoyance – but really, it’s not an issue. There always seems to be an empty table by the time you’re ready to sit down.

But the line. It’s insane. Just insane. We’ve been there two times. (Yeah, fool us twice …) Today, I timed the wait – nearly 50 minutes from our arrival to the cash register. You’re just standing there, moving a footstep once in a blue moon. I mean, who would actually volunteer to enter this kind of trap outside of a baseball stadium or other venue where you had no other options?

The answer, apparently, is hundreds or thousands of people every day, all generally in good spirits. It’s remarkable. It must be one of those things where people see the line and just assume they must want to be a part of it.  I have to imagine that someday, more and more people will decide, with a nod to Yogi Berra, that it’s so crowded that nobody should go there anymore. But that doesn’t seem imminent.

I’m bowing out, however. Vito’s Pizza on La Cienega will remain our go-to place. It’s farther away from our house, but we can complete the round trip in the time it takes to traverse the quarter-block line on Lindbrook Avenue in the shadow of the old Mann Festival theater. My New York-born-and-bred wife, who by birthright is the authority on such matters, deems Vito’s the best pizza in Los Angeles, and I’ve never seen any reason to disagree.

  • Anonymous

    We have a newish pizza chain here called “Crust” which sells the best pizzas ever and there are certainly no long waiting times involved. If any of you come down here one day, you must check them out ;)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve always been told that Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock is the greatest pizza in Los Angeles. Apparently, so does most of Northeast Los Angeles. The place is always packed. It takes forever to get your food. And by the time I get it, I am so hungry that I could eat anything put in front of me.

    But, far be it from me to argue.

  • Anonymous

    Right around the corner from 800 Degrees is Lamonicas NY Pizza which has been there for at least 30 years and any westsider will tell you, is some of the best pizza in town. No wait. I live a mile away but have yet to try 800 Degrees. Good on them for solving the “how to succeed in Westwood” conundrum but a 50 minute wait for pizza doesn’t sound likely to be a pleasurable experience.

  • Onlyatriple

    My wife went to this place for lunch today.  Didn’t mention the line, but on the other hand it gave her an excuse to get away from the kids for a few hours.   Speaking of the kids, my oldest made the All-Stars in his Pinto division, and we’ve been at the park all weekend watching (me) and playing (him) tournament ball.  What a glorious weekend!  He team has lost two tight games  but we have a 7:30 am rematch tomorrow morning which puts us back in the mix if we win.  My 8 year old was nearly the hero today — he hit a bases-loaded bomb that the center fielder tracked down, gloved, bobbled, and then caught with his bare hand as it popped out of the mitt.    So close….

  • http://blog.tonypierce.com Tony Pierce

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Vito’s. It was heartbreaking when they left us here in East Hollywood. 

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      We used to make the pilgrimage to the old location.

  • Anonymous

    I have a cholesterol level over 200 so I try to avoid pizza.  I’ll make an exception for Vito’s and Casa Blanca.  If I recall from my UCLA days Lamonicas was good and had that great photo of the 1955 Dodgers.

  • http://twitter.com/erg79 Evan G.

    Didn’t know it was just as crazy on the weekend…I work in Westwood, and was expecting that it was going to be a madhouse when they opened. I’m surprised that it’s stayed just as busy during the week (I guess a good review from Jonathan Gold helps). I’ve found that if you get there at 11:30 on a weekday, the line isn’t as terrible as it gets later.

    And agreed on Lamonica’s. Really good pizza that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. And even Enzo’s, also in Westwood, is decent. 

  • Anonymous

    Now what is going on regarding Lilly, Bills, Eovaldi,  potential personnel change and Roy Oswalt?

    Roy Oswalt??????

  • Andrew Faris

    Anyone been to Masa of Echo Park? Right down the street from the ballpark. I’m married to a native Chicagoan so I’ve been out that way some, and we both agree that it’s the truest Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza we’ve seen in L.A. (or for that matter, outside of Chicago anywhere). Really delicious. It’s definitely more sit-down restaurant, so it’s a little different experience, but it’s really fantastic if you like true deep dish pizza. The chef, in fact, used to work for Giordano’s in Chicago, so he got his chops in the right place.

    Anyway, check it out. It’s great. I haven’t been to any of these other places, but you’ll like it.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Unfortunately, I’m just not a deep dish guy. 

  • Anonymous

    I will recommend Güerrín (downtown Buenos Aires), Siamo nel Forno in Palermo (also BA, not Sicily), and Pizzaiolo in Oakland.

  • Andrew Shimmin

    I spent 80 minutes in line at Philippe’s the only time I ever went. I picked the wrong line (the only one with a cashier obviously under the age of fifty), but it was still plenty to put me off for good. I think Pinks only cost me forty-five minutes. For a hot dog.

    Too many people in this city.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Phillippes can be a killer wait, but I’ve never had one as bad as I had at 800 tonight.  I still love Phillippes.

      Pinks, of course, is a joke – most overrated hot dog around.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    Personally I like homemade pizza from my very own bread machine and oven. ;)

  • Anonymous

    While not a Dodger post, I wanted to drop a quick comment about your wonderful book “100 things….”, which I finally bought and started reading over the weekend. It is such a great read whether you are relating a familiar story or one that is new to me. The best part is that the book sort of reads as if it were 600 pages as opposed to the nearly 300 it really is because your stories trigger so many thoughts and memories of my own that I can’t help but take them all in together. Beyond simply being a good read, it is an enjoyable and interactive experience.

    Thanks,

    Philip

  • http://profiles.google.com/michaelgreen327 Michael Green

    Tarantino’s in Pasadena.  That is all.

  • SteelMohawk

    They are just following the Georgetown cupcake model.  having people stand in line, makes good food taste better.  Though I feel this was a Forest Gump mantra.

  • Anonymous

    I got spoiled when I visited my daughter in New York. There is a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria on East 14th St. called Artichoke’s that had the best pizza I have ever tasted. Although not quite as bad as your description of 800 Degrees, I have stood in line for a half hour at Artichoke’s and there is very little seating. If you prefer thin crust pizza, Basic Pizza across the street from Petco Park in San Diego very good.

    • KT

      My best pizza was when I was staioned in La Madellena Italy but since I’m in the neighborhood of Petco park I’ll have to try Basic Pizza

  • Anonymous

    I live in Brooklyn, where Di Fara’s Pizza in Midwood regularly has 1 hr. + lines out the door, with folks travelling from all over the city.  It’s well worth the wait for a special occasion, and is the best pizza I’ve ever had.  Not entirely unlike Dodger Stadium itself, the guy that makes the pizza has been doing it for 50 years, won’t let ANYONE else touch the pizzas, and often forgets what he’s doing in the midst of preparing a pizza – all contributing significantly to the wait.  Nonetheless, each pizza is quite an achievement.  Ave. J and 15th St.  Check it out next time you’re in Brooklyn.