Chef Anthony Carron once spent a year hanging out in Italy and eating Neapolitan-style pizza four times a day. (Yes, he's somehow still alive. And no, you can't take over his life Talented Mr. Ripley-style, no matter how appealing that sounds.) From his time abroad, he learned the art of crafting the perfect thin-crust Italian tomato pie. Earlier this year, the globe-trotting, Brother Ali-resembling, Michael Mina protoge teamed up with the Umami Burger guys to bring you 800 Degrees -- a bustling UCLA-adjacent joint that manages to appeal equally to foodie pizza purists and broke-and-hungry college kids. Call it "miracle in Westwood."
The concept is Chipotle-level simple: belly up to the long counter and choose your sauce (marinara, margarita, or bianca.) That sauce gets lovingly ladled over a freshly hand-rolled disc of the simplest dough -- just flour, salt, water, and wild yeast. Which you then guide down an assembly line of toppings both traditional (sweet Molinari Italian sausage, oven roasted eggplant, kalamata olives) and new-school (charred broccolini, rock shrimp, truffle cheese), before finally watching it get slung like an unrepentant sinner into a wood-burning oven, where the whole shebang cooks in under 60 seconds.
Is it softer and floppier than you're probably expecting? I wouldn't use those words (I'd say supple and perfectly chewy) but yes -- and it's supposed to be. This is Neapolitan-style pizza, and Neapolitans don't go for that crispy-crust nonsense many of us have learned to associate with thin pizza after growing up on "fit-only-for-Guantanmo-prisoners" franchises like Domino's. Don't let that bother you. The pick-and-choose nature of the 800 Degrees allows you to discover flavor combintions you never dreamed of, as Calabrian chilis provide a nice kick of heat against carmelized onions and salty soppressata. Oh, and the average price of a pizza is $8, i.e. close to what you'd pay for valet over at Mozza.