What do the makers of Menchie’s do when they get a little hungry for something that’s not a flavor of the month? Open up a Neapolitan-style pizzeria! At MidiCi in Sherman Oaks, beneath show stealing stovepipe ovens and meticulous ingredients lies a pizza spot that is worth traversing canyons and freeways. Exceptional eating, awesome atmosphere, and the monkeys are as mad for it as they are for Menchie’s.
When Is A Date Night Not A Date Night?
When you bring the kids! Dine beneath a sprawling indoor olive tree, under soaring ceiling on sleek black barstools. There’s an espresso machine aptly named after a Greek goddess and artisanal gelato that is destination worthy all by itself. It’s sure a far cry from the family pizza scene of yore: no TV set on a SpongeBob loop and/or oversized rodents coming over to force a photo. But this place, beauty notwithstanding, is designed for family. And the pizza? It’ll blow you (and the kids) away.
Step Back In Time
The scene here is less hyper-stimulating (not counting the pizza) and more sublime. With culture creeping out of every corner, bring the kids around the restaurant for a look—even the condiment counter is a vision. And mind the floor on the way there, it’s micro-cement, hand applied with a trowel, honoring the tradition dating back to the Roman Empire. So you get a little art history alongside your artisan pie.
Speaking of history, MidiCi pizza makers have all endured rigorous training in authentic Neapolitan pizza gastronomy and they make the magic right in the heart of the restaurant. The ovens, sand and stone hand hewn, are wood firing wonders, hand built by a third-generation family in Naples, burning at 1000 degrees the Neapolitan way. Cool eye candy for kids, to see the way pizza was made when and where it was invented. And then to taste pizza exactly how it should taste.
“Fast” Food, Not “Fast Food”
Get in line and pick your pizza pleasures (MidiCi literally translates into “You tell me”) and let the prized pizza makers top it with whatever you like you (there are plenty of kiddo friendly fixins). Got a kid with a penchant for pickiness? Not a problem—they’ll go as plain as they prefer. If you’re feeling too tired to make decisions, they offer classics and pre-created specialties and substitutions are delightfully accommodated. Pies are one size and range in price from $7-$14. If they can agree on toppings, kiddos can probably get away with splitting one.
Then sit and relax, but not too much, because these pies bake in 90 seconds, so before they can squeeze out even one verse of the “I’m hungry” blues, dinner is served. Dessert you can order when you’re done eating your meal; it’s at a separate register where you don’t have to wait in line with the pizza people.
Here’s what’s in your pizza dough: Non-GMO flour imported from Naples, pure water, sea salt, live yeast. That is it. And what they put on top is just as pure; crushed non-GMO Italian peeled tomatoes, “white gold” buffalo mozzarella; it’s all the stuff you’d use at home. If you had a grandma from Naples coming over to make dinner.
Beyond the Pies
With a whole burrata section to delight in, this place makes introducing burrata to bambinos easy. The Burrata with purple kale, grape tomatoes, and homemade pesto is kind of like pizza deconstructed. So good that routine kale rejection won’t happen. They may even try a bit of beet with the burrata. Expanding palates, one bite at a time.
Even if you think you’re too full for dessert, you need to try it. The signature Nutella calzone is completely off the chain. All puffed up and bursting with berries and banana, doused in Nutella…fuggedaboudit. The kids won’t even beg for Menchie’s on the way home.
While you’d happily eat here without the kids, the beauty of this place is that they’re not only welcomed, they’re wanted. It feels beautiful and bright and makes you linger and chat over an espresso, but service is also as fast and friendly as eating at your local neighborhood joint, or at a friend’s house. MidiCi has created a space for congregating and reconnecting over manna from heaven, or Naples. Same thing.
MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza
14612 Ventura Blvd.
What’s your favorite dinner spot that appeals equally to adults and kids? We’d to hear love your tips in the comment section!
—written and photographed by Jolie Loeb