Lamonicas NY-Pizza—Trying to be NY in LA

Lamonicas - outside - RESIZELos Angeles singer-songwriter Randy Newman was singing “I Love LA” around the same time I heard New York City rocker Garland Jeffreys shout from The Bottom Line stage “LA sucks!” I guess that there’s always been a culture contrast and rivalry between the two coasts, and there probably will always be. Me? I’ll always be a New Yorker at heart, but I have always loved visiting LA though I’d never want to live there.

Skipping culture, traffic is one reason I won’t become Malibu Mike. While there seems to be less cars in Manhattan these days, the same can’t be said for the City of Angels. Why it’s bumper-to-bumper on the city streets mid-morning on a weekday I will never understand. So, in carefully planning some adventure on my afternoon exit to LAX, I made a long slow loop that took me from my starting point in Culver City to heaven-on-earth Amoeba Records in Hollywood, with a final stop at Lamonicas NY-Pizza near the UCLA campus in Westwood.

Lamonicas website set the pizza bar awfully high. They claim to make the only authentic NY pizza in Los Angeles (since 1980) with dough from Brooklyn that they make with NYC tap water. Even though the water theory has been well been debunked, I was ready to give the place a try.

After my sluggish journey across the city, I finally arrived at the Lamonicas location in the Westwood shopping district. Luckily, I was quickly able to use my credit card to purchase some metered parking right across the street. It was still lunch hour, and with the district so busy, I needed to eat fast and get to the airport.

Lamonicas - counter - RESIZELamonicas - inside - RESIZEInside, Lamonica’s motif was heavy New York Subway with an assortment of related signs and photos on the walls. There was a fairly busy lunch crowd and I ordered my pair of PC (“plain cheese) slices ($3.25 a pop) at the long counter which had several different offerings on display in front of their CPO (“conventional pizza oven”). I then took a seat at one of the few available tables in the back amongst the subway stuff and large stacks of pizza boxes.

Being in a hurry, they came through and my slices were served in a New York minute. At first glance however, they looked a bit odd. Dissimilar in size, both also had fat pale end crusts and only scattered spreads of tomato sauce. Even though the walls were trying to convince me otherwise, I wasn’t feeling like I was in New York City. At least the slices were reasonably thin, and their oil was light. Although they got close to the feel of a New York slice, most importantly, the true NY taste just wasn’t there.

Lamonicas - slices - RESIZEThe cheese tasted drab and was quite disappointing. Perhaps that’s what they should be sourcing from Brooklyn is some good Mootz. And the transported dough and water didn’t do much since the crust too was less than spectacular. Overall, Lamonicas slice had some decent flavor to it and was close enough in style not to be a total wash out. Regardless, I was hungry, finished off both slices and was somewhat satisfied.

So, here’s my quick finish. Folks, this is a mediocre slice at best. If you read this space, its no secret where to find the best NY slice in the LA area. Go see a guy named Joe in Santa Monica!

PIZZA SNOB RATING ***1/2 Working on a Good Thing    
Lamonicas NY-Pizza
1066 Gayley Avenue
Los Angeles, CA  90024


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