I'll just cut to the chase: the new DeSano Pizza Bakery in East Hollywood has been open a mere weeks, but is already a Top 5 Los Angeles pizza. That's right. Call it hyperbolic, call it superlative, call it lunacy, but that's my assessment after my inaugural visit to the Neopolitian pie haven out of Nashville. There simply aren't five other Southland pizzerias pumping out more consistent pies - especially not during their infancy stage like DPB.
The overall pleasurability of the joint comes down to three factors...
For LA pizza shop standards, DeSano's is massive. Taking over a former auto garage space, it has the feel of an expansive beer hall. Unlike other LA pizza meccas (cough, Mozza, cough, Milo + Olive, cough, others), you don't feel like your sitting in your neighbors' laps. Nor do you need a reservation. You shouldn't have to make a reservation to eat pizza. I don't care how good it is, pizza is not a reservation food. Part of the reason you won't ever need a res at DeSano's: THEY HAVE FOUR ovens. Not one. Not three. FOUR. (Actually, they have a fifth in the back just in case as well.) These four Acunto ovens pump out pizza at a franticly quick pace due to the almond wood, which burns high. Not just are the ovens from Italy, but they are also all, as is a customary homeland tradition, named after Italian cities and angels that protect them. They even before opening secured a priest to make a visit and bless the ovens.
Also a bonus: they have a large, free, attached parking lot.
I can't remember a friendlier staff at a new restaurant. Not force-smile-gun-in-their-back cordial. I mean actually happy to see you and introduce you to their new restaurant. A staff full of people pleased to hear you made the trek from Santa Monica to East Hollywood and who smile just because - not for a paycheck. From management to the bussers, DeSano's seems to have gone way out of their way to hire a genial staff and it really maximizes the overall experience. Put its Tennessean charmed roots and characteristic Italian hospitality in a blender. The result is DeSano's Pizza Bakery.
You can have the coolest space and friendliest staff in the world, but if a pizza joint doesn't deliver the 'za goods, it means nothing. DeSano's certainly delivers the goods - and then some. At this point I've been to so many restaurants in their first few weeks I've almost built in a given mulligan factor. Especially pizza places, as new pizzerias tinker and attempt to master the ovens. DBP had no such growing pains. We tried three pizzas (Margherita, San Gennaro and the Verdura), all perfectly cooked. Check out that leopard spotting on that upskirt shot. You simply do not see that sort of spotting many places in LA, let alone from a neophyte trying to work out the kinks that come with simultaneously handling four ovens. I recommend all three pies. The San Gennaro -- housemade salsiccia (Italian sausage), peppadews, buffalo mozzarella and carmelized onions atop a simple red sauce of crushed San Marzano tomatoes -- offers a nice spice that plays well with the crust's chewy, slightly sourdough tang. The Verdura -- a white pie of broccoli rabe, mushroom, cherry tomato, garlic and buffalo mozz -- was my dining partner's favorite of the trio due to the combination of sharp broccoli rabe and the sweetness of blistered cherry tomato. As for the Margherita, it tasted so fresh. Especially the basil, which burst with flavor. In the pizza biz they say your Margherita is "your cheeseburger." The litmus test. DeSano's aced the exam.
Compared to other Neopolitian pizza shops, DBP also demonstrates a little less pretense. Although they kindly ask for no alterations, pizzas can be ordered in two sizes (compared to the normal pizzaiolo mantra, "This is the size. Deal with it, bro.") and they also offer a well-stocked accouterments bar of flavored oils, cheese, peppers and fresh garlic.
DeSano's Pizza Bakery
4959 Santa Monica Blvd, East Hollywood
(Open Monday through Saturday, 11 am until the dough runs out)