Contrary to popular belief, not all pizzas are created equal. There may be inconsistencies in the cheese to tomato sauce ratio, the crust may be too thick or the toppings may be soggy. In fact, Jon Stewart created an entire video on pizza inequality (namely, the age-old “deep dish vs. thin crust” argument).
Therefore, I am pleased to announce that I have officially found the best pizza in Los Angeles: Bestia, the multi-regional nouveau Italienne restaurant in the Arts District (aka Warehouse District) of downtown L.A.
Bestia is faithful to traditional Italian pizzas with items such as the Salsiccia (housemade lamb sausage, San Marzano tomatoes, ricotta, arugula and fermented chilies) and the Alla’nduja (housemade spicy ‘nduja, san marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, black cabbage and fennel pollen). But it wouldn’t be Los Angeles if there wasn’t kale on the pizza menu as well. The Gorgonzola Kale with mozzarella, grana padano and olive oil is a tasty vegetarian option for those who don’t like pork as much as I do (everyone).
But what makes Bestia’s pizza so superior? Chef Ori Menashe utilizes over 60 forms of charcuterie and raises his own yeast culture, but there is something else responsible for these succulent and savory flavors: the Neapolitan Acunto pizza oven. Invented by Vincenzo Acunto in 1892, the production of the Acunto has been passed down for four generations, and remains in the skilled hands of Acunto’s descendants. What sets the Acunto apart is that beech wood is used for the ignition and oak wood is used to maintain the temperature, solidifying a light, smoky flavor in the final product. There are only ten Acunto pizza ovens in the continental United States.
Bestia’s menu holds more than just their five signature pizzas. The burrata with peaches, cherry tomatoes, pickled banana peppers, pea tendrils and mint is perhaps the most creative item on the antipasti menu. A slight deviation from the over-served caprese, the peaches and mint add a soupçon of sweetness that blends perfectly with the fresh burrata.
My favorite item on the menu, however, is the spaghetti Rustichella with sea urchin, squid ink bottarga, garlic, Calabrian chilies and breadcrumbs. Sea urchin has so much potential beyond sashimi, and chef Menashe makes wonderful use of the tasty creature by adding it atop a spaghetti that puts all other wheat to shame. For secondi, the slow-roasted lamb neck with salsa verde is a perfect way to ignite the taste buds and prepare them for Bestia’s infamous desserts.
In a match made in culinary heaven, Menashe’s wife Genevieve Gergis is the pastry chef responsible for producing cholesterol-filled delights such as the fig leaf ice cream and coffee & donuts (spiced chestnut zeppole with whipped cream and coffee ice cream). If Bestia does not whet one’s palate, nothing else will.
Love and Locatelli,