Monday, January 14, 2013

First Thoughts: The Urban Oven

Like that beautiful girl that sat in front of you in geometry class but then became invisible when the class bell rang, The Urban Oven had eluded me for months. I would check Twitter almost on a daily basis to locate the wood-fire pizza slinging gourmet food truck, yet the stars never seemed to align for the two of us. I would go to the wrong place or miss it by a few minutes or they would change  their whereabouts, it just did not work out. Finally, as of Friday, it did. And I am really, really glad we finally hooked up.

As excited as I am for the arrival of The Urban Oven, I imagine the LA food truck scene in general must be over the moon. Desperately seeking a shot in the arm, the mobile movement had quickly become rather staid. Then comes UO, which provides exactly what was desperately sought: something new, something quality, something GOOD. Founded by pizzaiolo Scott Tremonti, the UO concept is simple: three minute wood-fired individual pizzas, semi-Neapolitan style, topped with top-notch ingredients. Then again what would you expect from an obsessive pizza lover who spent many years living just down the block from the 'za mecca, Phoenix's Pizzeria Bianco?

As for the pizza, it's pretty solid. Not just for coming off a truck either - it's pretty solid solid. Sure there's slight room for improvement, but I left my first UO experience pretty satisfied.

First with the positives:

  • Timing. From order to hand-off, it took a mere five minutes.
  • Ingredients. I ordered The Dragon (pomodoro sauce, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, cremini mushrooms and jalapenos) minus the jalapenos. I just wasn't feeling up for the heat, so I ordered the pie sans jalapenos - and immediately regretted it as I feared minus a key ingredient it may lack an overall taste. It did not - thanks in most part to a vibrant tomato base (but not TOO MUCH tomato sauce, like most pizza joints) and the always lovable mini-pepperoni cups. Overall, it tasted very fresh.
  • The crust. Although not as leopard-spotted as say Sotto, it was still well-cooked and crispy. Especially for something from a truck. The crust also gave off a very satisfying sourdough-y aftertaste.
  • Taste. This is a pizza with the right proportions of things. The right amount of tomato sauce, cheese, crust, etc. You can tell UO prides itself in the intricacies of pizza proportions and their effect on the overall taste experience.

Still to work on:

  • Price. The pizza cost $10 (and included a Diet Coke), which is a fair Los Angeles lunch price. But it's not the biggest of personal pies - and in a city that loves 800 Degrees, it may behoove U.O. to lower their pricepoint slightly to compete with the similar style/quality 'za. Even just a dollar cheaper makes it seem like a much better value.
  • MORE MUSHROOMS. Don't skimp on the secondary ingredient.

Overall, a very positive first Urban Oven experience. I can't remember the last time LA had a reason to be excited for a new food truck, but the recent launch of U.O (coupled with Evan Funke's rolling porchetta four-wheeler ) makes things seem a little brighter.

The Urban Oven
(find their weekly locations)


  1. you used to live near pizzeria bianco?!? i can't wait to try this truck, if i can find it...

    1. I guess my wording isn't great, but I meant Scott.

      I love Bianco though - and can't to go back in March.

  2. If their crust is crisp, they're already a step ahead of 800 Degrees in my book.

  3. you are a former phoenician too? ;)
    did you ever get to bianco's sandwich shop: pane bianco? best caprese sandwich i have eaten. ever.

    1. Allison - I am not actually. I just visit there every couple years for Spring Training. Sadly I have yet to try Pane Bianco, but I definitely will on my next visit.

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