Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"The Great Pizza Hunt" at Tony's Little Italy Pizza

A while back, I decided to start a new restaurant series for my dining group, Pleasure Palate, revolving around pizza. Considering how many pizza joints are in Los Angeles, I knew that this would be a dining series that would probably take me into infinity, but you gotta do, what you gotta do sometimes, so "The Great Pizza Hunt" was on.

First up was Tony's Little Italy Pizza in Placentia. The reason I decided to start with Tony's is that their specialty is Chicago-Style Pizza. My only experience with Chicago pizza was actually in Chicago at Giordano's, where their pizza is referred to as a stuffed pizza. I found out later that the main difference between a stuffed pizza and a deep dish pizza is that the stuffed pizza has a layer of dough that goes on top of the pizza and the deep dish version doesn't. If there are any Chicagoans reading this review, please correct me if I'm wrong. Although I'm more of a thin crust pizza kind of gal, I did enjoy my foray into Chicago Pizza and was hoping to find something similar in LA; hence, Tony's Little Italy Pizza.

Walking into Tony's, I could definitely tell that the owners loved their Chicago sports teams with one wall devoted to the Chicago Bears and the other wall that was all about the Chicago Cubs. Since I had been running late due to an accident on the freeway, my group was already there and took the initiative to order two deep dish pies, although stuffed pies were also on the menu. Lunch was going to consist of Tony's Special with sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and one pizza that was half with pepperoni/sausage and half olives/bell peppers and onions.

When both pizzas arrived, our eyes widened with wonderment. Wow, these pizzas weren't delicate little darlings. They looked substantial.

I tried a slice of the half pepperoni/sausage pizza first and than a smaller slice of the bell pepper/olive/onions pizza.

Then I had a slice of Tony's Special.

Do you know what words came to mind after each slice? Disappointment soon followed by More Disappointment. Granted, it's been several years since I've had that pizza at Giordano's, but I remember it being a thing of beauty. The ingredients were nicely layered and they weren't drowning in a sea of tomato sauce and cheese. In fact, I could even tell where all the ingredients were laid out.

Both the pizzas I tried at Tony's were literally a "Hot Mess." Just like I mentioned above, it was a spillage of tomato sauce and cheese, all mixed up together. At one point, I couldn't even tell that the sausage/pepperoni pizza even had pepperoni until I looked more closely at a cross-section of one of the slices and saw pepperoni just above the crust and underneath the cheese. It just felt like there wasn't any restraint. Also, I felt that they really limited the quantity of toppings. If you got any of the toppings on any of your pizza slices, you were pretty lucky. At times, it felt like all I was eating was crust, tomato sauce and cheese.

When you add to all this, a crust that was a little burnt at the edges, which made it harder to chew and ingredients that should have been more flavorful, neither of the pizzas at Tony's were the Chicago pizza of my dreams. Come on, how can pepperoni and sausage not have any flavor??? As for the sauce, it was okay, although a little sweeter than I would have liked and at least the cheese was ooey and gooey, so that's one positive thing to note. Overall, as I mentioned earlier, I was pretty disappointed and definitely have no plans to make a return visit to Tony's.

To see pics, go to:

Tony's Little Italy Pizza
1808 N. Placentia Avenue, Unit B
Placentia, CA 92870
(714) 528-2159

Tony's Little Italy on Urbanspoon


Katie said...

That is the only difference between stuffed and deep dish. But Tony's looks like it has more dough to it than normal Chicago style Deep Dish or at least Gino's doesn't use that much. :)

pleasurepalate said...

Katie: Thanks for stopping by and confirming what I thought about deep dish vs stuffed pizza. :) If I ever make it back to Chicago, I definitely want to try Gino's next.

Diana said...

Sigh. This post makes me nostalgic for my college days in Chicago/Evanston. Giordano's spinach stuffed pizza was my favorite pie in the city -- I still crave it from time to time! Might just have to suck it up and do mail order one of these days...

pleasurepalate said...

Diana: That's the pizza I had at Giordano's, the stuffed spinach pie. It was so good. I might end up ordering one via mail order one day, too.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Chicago and still enjoy all of the best known Chicago deep dish pizza restaurants when back to visit family each year (including Gino's East, Giordano's, Pizzaria Uno & Duo, etc.) I disagree with the author of the adjacent article--Tony's Little Italy is as good as or better than any of the best known Chicago pizza restaurants. Lots of high quality cheese, sauce and dough is what makes a great Chicago style pizza. Apparently the person who wrote the article doesn't understand that. I've lived in Southern California for 20 years and haven't found anything other than Tony's that can honestly be called Cicago style pizza. In fact I make nearly a 100 mile round trip drive to Tony's from West LA a few times each year. If you like Chicago style pizza, Tony's is the real deal.

pleasurepalate said...

Anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and of course, I respect your opinion about Tony's. I'm glad that you've found a culinary treasure that's worth your 100 mile drive. For me, I can only go by my tastebuds and as I mentioned, Tony's didn't do it for me, but I certainly understand that others may not agree with my take on it and that's completely fine. :)

bathmate said...

very good posting. i liked it. :-)


Mellisa said...

I completly disagree with the person who the article.
I went to Tony's Little Italy because I googled "Best deep dish pizza in Los Angeles" and it was!!
The pizza there is absolutly amazing. The crust is perfect.
Try will not regret it!