Olio

8075 W 3rd St. Ste 100 Los Angeles, CA 90048(323) 930-9490 pizzeriaolio.com

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Food markets such as the Grand Central Food Market seem to be all the rage as of late, and I must admit I’ve taken the bait just as much as the next lemming. They’re sort of like a UN of cuisine. But giving myself a modicum of credit, I don’t love them simply because of the gimmick. They still have to live up to my high standards, regardless of the fact that they are housed in a cool, modern-day bazaar, with great energy. So no favoritism and no slack here. You either bring it or I pan it.

So as much as I would like to pan the pizza here, I found myself pleasantly surprised, especially in light of the fact that great LA pizza is about as rare as meeting a waiter who isn’t also an actor.

In descending order of greatness, at the top of the totem pole sits the spicy sausage and hot peppers. Obviously if you’re a vegetarian, vegan or just don’t like the thrill of fireworks in your mouth, then this pie should be a pass. But I have to say, it’s your loss, because it’s everything a pizza was meant to be and more.

But don’t lose hope just yet, because their roasted veggie pie (pictured) is also very good. Letting the quality of their ingredients shine, this pie is full of flavor and topped with a nice, peppery arugula. It’s a little more basic for sure, but it’s bangin’ basic. As is the mushroom and speck, which is a slight dial away from the usual mushroom and pepperoni. And a tasty dial it is.

The only pie that didn’t quite make the grade, however, was the old classic margherita. It was significantly lacking in flavor compared to the others, which perhaps points to a greater weakness in the sauce and the crust. After all, that’s the true measure of a pie and why LA pies never truly measures up to New York standards, because they always seem to have to cheat their way to the top via toppings. And to be fair, I honestly don’t mind it, because toppings have their place too (on top). But a strong foundation is everything and it’s also what’s holding LA back from ever being a real contender in the pizza game. That goes for you too Mozza.

3 teeth

Hot Diggity Dogs

947 W Wellington Ave. Chicago, IL 60657 • (773) 472-5446

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Being strapped with the dubious moniker of “Second City,” there has always been an unhealthy degree of competitiveness between Chicago and New York, at least from Chicago’s perspective. Not sure anyone in New York sees it as much of a contest.

But to be fair, Chicago does win its battles here and there. For example in terms of professional basketball teams I would say The Bulls have the Knicks beat quite badly in historical terms.

The other arena in which Chicago trounces New York would be the hot dog. For all the reasons that New York pizza bests Chicago, it is almost the complete inverse of logic when it comes to dogs. On the pizza front, less is actually more. When you pile too much crap on top you lose two of three greatest components of a pie- the sauce and the crust. I mean sure the cheese is the headliner, but when you pile on five cubic tons of it, you no longer taste anything else and it becomes too much of one note. And therein lies the genius of the Chicago dog, complexity.

Go to Papaya King or any other lauded New York hot dog icon and you will quickly see that once again, New York tries to keep it simple. But the thing is, hot dogs aren’t exactly what one would call complex or interesting (this is excluding bratwurst, Italian sausages, etc.). They are nothing more than blended up animal parts in log form. And I’m sorry, but French’s, Heinz and a little kraut aren’t about to turn the gourmet tides.

Enter the Chicago style dog. Like at Hot Diggity, a little stand that used to be a stone’s throw off of the Magnificent mile serving something equally magnificent. A dog piled high with hot peppers and onions and pickles and squash and zucchini. I mean just one look at this bun of gloriousness and it will change you on the spot. Making New York dogs look more like a severed finger in a bun by comparison. And just wait until you taste it. Your mouth has no idea what it’s about to learn about itself.

4 teeth