Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Hidden Gem (at least it was to me) that is the Pizza of Terroni

Dinner at Terroni

When it comes to pizza in LA, I definitely have my favorite places, from Zelo in Arcadia, Pizzeria Mozza in LA to Bollini's in Monterey Park and recently, I fell in love with the flatbread-style pizza at The Hollywood Corner. But when my friend, Wasima, told me of Terroni, a Southern Italian restaurant that serves pizza that's the closest to the pizza she's had in Italy, it piqued my interest and Terroni went to the top of my must try list.

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Dinner at Terroni

Before my friend, I never even heard of Terroni and never even noticed it, although I've driven by it on Beverly Boulevard for a number of years. Apparently, it's a very popular neighborhood restaurant and is packed, even during the weekdays. Since they don't take reservations, our small group went in early at 7 and by 8, there were no seats to be had. Walking in, it was nice to see that Terroni had an open airy kitchen and throughout the evening, an Italian movie was projected on the wall, which was a nice piece of ambiance.

Dinner at Terroni

For our meal, we shared two appetizers, two salads, two pizzas and a couple of us indulged in dessert. The first thing that hit our table was an assortment of cured meats and cheeses, that also included olives and pickled vegetables. I enjoyed the presentation just as much as I enjoyed digging into all the tasty morsels on that wood block.

Dinner at Terroni
Dinner at Terroni
Dinner at Terroni

One of the members in our party also highly recommended that we try a particular prosciutto that he said was truly exceptional. Unfortunately, I can't remember what the brand was, but it definitely deserved kudos.

Dinner at Terroni

When it comes to salads, I can't stand it when they are over dressed to the point that the lettuce leaves are a wilted mess. The salads at Terroni were absolutely wonderful. All the ingredients were extremely fresh looking and more importantly fresh tasting. They were also lightly dressed and it was definitely obvious in how the greens had a lovely sheen to them and weren't weighted down. The first salad to arrive was the Ricchia Salad with arugula, fresh mushrooms, parmigiano shavings, lemon and extra-virgin olive oil. I loved how they were generous with the Parmesan shavings and the simplicity of the salad itself was very appealing.

Dinner at Terroni

Our second salad was the Barbabietole Salad with arugula, beets, potatoes, goat cheese, pistachios, balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. The components for a great salad were all there, but it needed a stronger flavored dressing or specifically, more balsamic vinegar to pull it all together. I still enjoyed it, but I found myself picking just at the cheese or just at the beets, but not necessarily eating the components together in one bite.

Dinner at Terroni

Before I get to the pizza, one thing you should ask for ahead of time is this wonderful red pepper/chili oil condiment. It was spicy, but I absolutely adored dribbling it on my pizza. Not that the pizza wasn't great without it, but it just added an additional zing that was addicting.

Dinner at Terroni

Ok, now let's talk about the pizza. We ordered two of them and though I was forewarned, I was surprised to see them arrive uncut. That's probably why everyone was given their own knife sometime before the pizzas arrived. It's all self-serve. Apparently, that's how it's done in Italy.

The first pizza to arrive was the Santo Stefano with tomatoes, buffalo milk mozzarella, fresh arugula and prosciutto de Parma. Its presentation was eye-catching. How can you not drool over a pizza topped with thin slices of prosciutto? The only issue is that this pizza was hard to cut into because of the prosciutto. Also, while biting into the pizza slice, you had to hold the prosciutto, or else the whole piece would be hanging from your mouth. That wouldn't be a pretty sight.

Dinner at Terroni

Perhaps, the prosciutto needs to be cut into smaller pieces for easier eating. Regardless, the peppery arugula and saltiness of the prosciutto went well with the mozzarella cheese. What really blew me away was the crust. It was light and crispy and I also enjoyed the smokiness, where parts of the crust puffed up into burnt mounds.

Our second pizza was perfect the way it was and it was the Don Corrado, a white pizza with mozzarella, gorgonzola, potatoes and a spicy housemade Italian sausage. I'm a big fan of white pizzas, which doesn't include tomato sauce as an ingredient. The focus is then on the cheese that's used and being the cheese lover that I am, I'm totally good with that. The gorgonzola added a nice hit of pungency to this pizza and that spicy housemade sausage was superb and for both pizzas, the red pepper/chili oil condiment was definitely put to use.

Dinner at Terroni

For dessert, two of us shared the Crostata Mediterranea, a dark chocolate crostata with sea salt and an extra-virgin olive oil gelato. It was the perfect way to end the meal. The chocolate was rich and sinful. The tart itself could have been a little more flaky, but it was nice and buttery. I wasn't that impressed with the extra-virgin olive gelato. It wasn't creamy enough for my liking.

Dinner at Terroni

Overall, I had a wonderful meal at Terroni. Except for a few little things, I thought the food was top notch and it's certainly got me curious enough to want to go back and try some of their other dishes. I wonder what their pasta would be like? However, no matter what else I would order, one of the pizzas will definitely hit the table, even if it's only as an appetizer.

7605 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2705
(323) 954-0300
Terroni on Urbanspoon
Los Angeles Restaurants



tokyoastrogirl said...

I absolutely love Terroni and would even venture to say it's my favorite Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. I love Osteria Mozza and Drago Centro and those higher-end places as well, but Terroni makes me feel like I'm eating in a local trattoria in Italy- the food is fresh, simple and delicious, the service efficient and friendly and the prices just right. Agree w/ you that the pizzas (the tuna/red onion/caper is a fave) are fantastic, and the pastas are equally delicious. The swiss chard/ricotta ravioli with fresh tomato sauce is divine.

Your photos are mouthwatering!


pleasurepalate said...

That tuna pizza sounds fantastic as do the chard/ricotta ravioli. I think I should make my return visit sooner rather than later. :)

Wasima said...

Excellent summary of our lovely meal at Terroni. It does feel like you are in Italy for a couple of hours. Gorgeous, mouth watering photos too. I had the tuna/red onion/caper pizza on my first visit and it was super tasty. When are we going back for pasta?

Michael Allman said...

Wow this looks so good! I went to Terroni a few years ago and didn't like it but I'll definitely have to check it out again.

Andi? said...

Looks great! I haven't eaten much pizza since moving up here, but I'd like to!

Anonymous said...

FYI the original Terroni in Toronto is even better IMHO so if you get to Toronto definitely check it out!