Los Angeles (Westwood), California
800 Degrees has enjoyed robust patronage since opening its doors early in 2012, primarily for delivering decent, inexpensive pizza quickly under chandelier light in a comfortable space on a bustling Westwood street corner. Henry Ford would be proud of the pizza production line that contributes to the restaurant’s high efficiency, and since tasty and fast is their modus operandi, it comes as no surprise that they’re spreading their wings into an adjacent space to offer food to-go (and delivery service). To sweeten the deal, Chef Anthony Carron has brought to Southern California the ubiquitous Neapolitan street food, the panuozzo, and since these pizza/sandwich hybrids are only available to go, you’ll be chowing down on them out of their paper wrapper on the sidewalk the way the Italians intended.
Similar to an open-sided calzone, the pizza dough is rolled out to about 10 inches (not stretched) and then tossed into the wood-fired oven until it puffs up and separates; the plain dough disk is then cleaved horizontally, folded over, stuffed with outrageously delicious meats, cheeses and vegetables, and then finished on a panini press. On the current takeaway menu there are 6 hot and two cold panuozzi, and all of them are flavorful and satisfying. The Autostrada is a tribute to the typical panuozzo you’d find being hawked by vendors along Italy’s namesake highway system; this animal-centric sandwich is densely packed with Italian luncheon meats, caciocavallo cheese and a spicy pepper-based relish and is slightly reminiscent of a Cubano. The Salsiccia e Friarelli features spicy Italian sausage, friarielli (rapini) and Fontina cheese, as sturdy and zesty a sandwich as you could want; for the vegetarians, the Peperonata features red peppers roasted in the pizza oven and accompanied by goat cheese, balsamic onion jam, and a peppery arugula.
On the cold side, the Salumi is like a memorable trip to the Italian deli, stocked with a variety of Italian cold cuts and a tapenade made from California Olive Ranch fruit, while the Fra’ Mani Turkey tastes like someone pummeled Italian Thanksgiving leftovers into a pizza crust. Naturally, you can still get the pizzas 800 Degrees has become renowned for, either by ordering the pre-configured specialty offerings or concocting your own pie; if you forgot to pick up your canned tomatoes, olive oil or basil, don’t worry since their ample pantry products are available for purchase as well. Although there are a few tables inside and on the sidewalk, I recommend grabbing a panuozzo and dine while strolling along the avenue in the shadow of Vesuvius (or at least San Vicente Mountain) for a taste of old Italia. Buona Sera, signorina, buona sera; it is time to say goodnight to Napoli.
NOTE: This cost for this meal was provided by the restaurant. The content provided in this article was not influenced whatsoever by the organizer of the event.