For $24, this is probably the priciest Margherita pizza I've ever ordered at a restaurant. It is definitely sharable. I decided to eat the whole pie just like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. This is how I judge any Neopolitan-style pizza. It's very simple, but difficult to master.
This is no ordinary pizza I said to myself as I justified the splurge. It's still cheaper than a flight to Italy just to try pizza in Naples, where pizza was born.
Da Michelle is one of the oldest pizzerias in the world established in 1870. Some say it is the oldest. Some say it is the best. It became more famous as the place where Julia Roberts (Liz) "had a relationship" with her pizza in the film, "Eat, Pray, Love."
I hear it is difficult to snag a table at the original restaurant in Naples. There's always a wait and a long line. Many have said during my research that this is the "best pizza in the world."
Angelenos -- we're lucky they chose Los Angeles as their first location in the United States. Word is that there are more on the way.
I made an Open Table reservation to visit on the first day they opened and as soon as they opened their doors. I rarely do this with the exception of select restaurants in Los Angeles.
The last time I showed up right on opening day and time was when Here's Looking at You opened in Koreatown -- because restaurant openings rarely excite me. I could say that I've been there, done that (LOL). The truth is that there are usually hiccups and service issues the first 6 months when a restaurant opens. That's a given.
I walked in and they offered me a seat in the classy looking, expansive bar or the communal table on the patio. I asked for their opinion and they told me to have a look. The hosts didn't read the fact that I requested a seat in front of the chef. This is my default setting or special request on Open Table. In this case, Michele Rubini, the master pizzaiolo.
I've already prepared my mind for service snags and mishaps as soon as I walked into the restaurant to lessen my desire to walk out in disappointment. I really wanted to try the pizza.
Not every restaurant will dazzle me on opening day like Here's Looking at You.
As soon as I was seated at the pizzaiolo's (chef's) table, I sat there for a full 10 minutes and not one person acknowledged or greeted me. I watched as the owner worked the room greeting everyone else.
Normally, I would have walked out of the restaurant by now, especially for this kind of a restaurant charging $24 for a pizza. There should be no excuses for service mishaps on opening night.
I decided to give them a chance and sat a while longer. I later lost my patience so I flagged down the first person I saw that walked out of the pizza kitchen and told them to send someone over to me. In my experience, within 5 minutes, they should have greeted me and offer me a drink or ask me if I had any questions about the menu. They weren't that busy and the reason I chose to go at 5 pm.
This place kind of reminds me of Europe so I felt like I had to lower my American service expectations at this restaurant. I shouldn't say that though as I've been to a Japanese-owned restaurant in Beverly Hills around opening time and their service was at the highest level from the moment I walked in through the time I walked out the door. They even put my jacket on me, zipped up my open handbag, and walked me out the door to thank me.
So yes, this restaurant definitely needs to work on service, but maybe it's not trying to be that kind of restaurant. Not one person thanked me as I walked out the door at this restaurant.
The restaurant is gorgeous and what I would expect for a restaurant opening in Hollywood or West Hollywood. It does have an air of pretentiousness of a West Hollywood restaurant. I suggest you dress stylish and not come in shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops.
The most genuine person and nicest in the restaurant seemed to be the pizzaiolo who looked at me in the eye for my approval from inside the kitchen with a nice, friendly smile.
There's valet parking across the street or try to find metered street parking around the block.
No one was sitting at the pizza bar, but to me, this should be the most coveted seats in any restaurant. Their outdoor patio is beautiful. I would request a table there on a warm, sunny day or on a pleasant summer evening. The inside of the restaurant is very design forward. You will feel like you are in a newly built modern designer home.
VERDICT: Go for a taste of pizza from Naples, the birthplace of pizza. I read that they use the same recipe and same ingredients as their restaurant in Naples. Your Neopolitan-style pizza will be soupy or soggy, but that is how it is supposed to be.
I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling to another country. I hope my adventures inspire you to eat well and travel often.
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