Parents love pizza almost as much as kids, but sometimes we want a refined meal. With vegetables that aren’t a topping. You’d also like the kids to consume said veg, and not leave enough crust to feed a small nation. Here are two hidden wood-fired spots with greens they gobble and crusts that end up in little bellies, not a sad heap of rejection. Plus wine and a relaxing atmosphere—cue choir of angels. Join us for A Tale of Two Pizzas…
DeSano Pizzeria Napoletana
The mozzarella is made earlier that week, in a small town in Campania. As in, Italy. The flour? It also came from the boot, by boat. Sea salt, straight from the Mediterranean. Here lies your family trip to Italy before your family trip to Italy. But exacting provenance or no, every parent knows a restaurant is only as good as it is appealing to our kids. So while we may marvel over the San Marzano tomato standard or the ovens handmade in Naples (each weighing over 10,000 lbs, no joke!), our kids arrive with different inquiries. Like how’d that guy toss that massive saucer of dough in the air and not drop it? And: Is it tasty? (Answers: we have no idea and heck, yes!)
Happy (Hour) in Hollywood
Some (most) Fridays can’t get here fast enough. This is where DeSano’s happy hour rides into our rescue. Fancy this: every Monday through Friday, from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. family style happy hour is celebrated with two large pizzas plus a bottle of house wine for $50. So load your pie up with all goodies you please, while kids go minimalist Margherita, and everybody goes home happy. Very happy.
Salad Days Are Here Again
Here comes the real fun. A special something happens when they serve the Caprese Salad, atop an emerald bed of glistening spinach. One minute the kids are watching pizza pros toss dough sky high, and they start picking at the food in front of them and suddenly, they’re eating spinach! The spinach nobody is even asking/forcing/bribing them to eat. Don’t know if it’s the super casual picnic table in a warehouse vibe, the doughboys providing classic pizzeria entertainment, or the fact that the pizza itself is outrageously, out-of-control good. Who cares? Kids are eating spinach. And asking for more. And maybe it was watching the dough getting tossed in the air, or the pillowy air pocketed edges, but the crust is eaten as fast as the cheesy middle.
When In Rome, Room To Roam
The atmosphere is old school pizzeria. Think down market digs in what seems like a former warehouse. Huge TV screens, roll of paper towels on the communal tables, plastic wear in a jar. The space is unequivocally kid friendly, the pizza is unequivocally grown-up good. If it has you musing birthday party ideas, run with it. They do those, too.
Foodie tested, kid approved. Salad that everyone loves. (That’s the Caprese, the plain Spinach you’ll dig, but it has decidedly less kid friendly ingredients like mushrooms and artichokes. You can’t push too far, too fast.) Dessert that includes one of the only decent cannoli in town. And free corkage, if you want to bring your own vino. All that, plus a giant and free parking lot? Pinch us, we must be dreaming.
DeSano Pizzeria Napoletana
4959 Santa Monica Blvd.
Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria
Don’t judge a place by its corner. At the intersect of Crescent Heights and Third Street, it may appear all gussied and glossy and gorgeous and grown-up, but inside they do things that have children eating Brussels sprouts, finishing their crusts (alas in this instance, as here you don’t mind munching their leftovers), and fashioning their favorite food out of organic, untreated, whole grain flour, locally made cheese, California extra virgin olive oils, and to wash it down, fresh pressed sodas made from fresh fruit. Olio Wood Fired Pizza is a lure for families that touts an artisanal aptitude and the ability to please picky little people.
Such a Teeny Spot Making Big Flavors
Just 26 seats (plus a kick-back and stay awhile wrap around patio) and Zagat still rates them as one of the top 10 destination spots in the US. That’s the whole country, kids. And after 6 p.m., valet is free with validation, just pull into the garage north of 3rd on Crescent, and voila, enjoy the pie life without suffering the search for parking on 3rd.
That’s Right: Free Valet on 3rd
Well, right off of Third, on Crescent Heights, specifically, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Just pull into the garage and go get what you came for. They’ll validate your parking so you can go ahead and ignore that $6 sign. How is this place still under the radar?
What They’ll Love
What won’t they? Kids can have a seat at the bar (très grown up) and enjoy a front row seat featuring the entertainment of wood fired pizza making. The staff is as kind as they come, chatting it up, showing their captive audience how to sling pie. But can you believe that even more than the pies, the Brussels sprouts here are the indisputable draw. These things are straight up delicious, all glossy and decorated in almond slivers. Even green-o-phobes gobble these little globes. And the Greek Salad is loaded up with so much good stuff (French sheep’s milk feta and homemade sourdough croutons) that you’ll almost wish they’d eat less salad to leave you more. Scratch that. Just order two. Because when your kiddo asks for seconds of salad, you know you can’t deny them.
“This Salad Tastes Like Pizza”
Direct quote, from two little taste testers. Don’t overreact. Don’t question. (But seriously, how does salad taste like pizza?) Just serve them seconds and asked no questions.
Serendipity by the Slice
There’s a reason their Margherita pizza has landed the cover of both LA Weekly and Los Angeles Magazine. That crust could launch one thousand Italian dreams. Can your baby say burrata? They will.
What’s for Dessert?
Wood. Fired. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. Uh huh. Take a minute with that. But don’t take more, because they’ll be gone. All melty inside, a Tollhouse commercial all grown up. Wood firing a cookie. Now there’s one we hadn’t seen, and now dream of.
Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria
8075 West 3rd St.
Eating out in LA is a treat—one that should feel that way to each generation. Pull up a chair, pull off a slice, and inaugurate a new age in pizza eating that would make any Italian grandma proud.
What’s your secret pizza spot where the kids will join the clean plate club and you’ll get a relaxing gourmet meal?
—written and photographed by Jolie Loeb