Even a global pandemic can’t kill the pizza industry. From food trucks to pop-ups to traditional parlors, pie-slingers are largely thriving in Los Angeles, but as we argue the virtues of various regional styles—from Detroit to Chicago to New York—L.A.’s surprisingly vast assortment of global styles of pizza tends to get lost in the shuffle.
Independent operators across the city are cooking up creations with international influences that prove how popular pizza has become all around the world. Italy was just the beginning; wait till you see our most beloved comfort food filtered through Asian, European, and Middle Eastern lenses.
Brazilian: Sampa’s Pizza
Marcus Roberto honors his native São Paulo, a city with the world’s second highest pizza consumption behind only New York, at Sampa’s Pizza, which launched in Lomita and expanded to Marina del Rey in 2019. The fast-casual Westside outpost has a wraparound patio and bakes uniquely Brazilian pizzas like the “Rio de Janeiro,” featuring thin, crispy crust topped with hearts of palm, Provolone, mozzarella, and catupiry, a silky Brazilian cream cheese. The “São Paulo” is similar, but with chicken breast and corn. The “Calabresa” has more pop thanks to spicy, thin-shaved Portuguese pork sausage, onions, mozzarella, and Kalamata olives. 534 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey & 2413 Pacific Coast Hwy., Lomita.
French: Two Doughs
Chadwick Corcoran and his team craft two different doughs for thick and thin crust styles that cook in a pair of mobile wood-fired pizza ovens that parked at places like Malibu Wines and Santa Monica Brew Works before the pandemic hit, though they’re currently on hiatus until California lifts COVID-19 restrictions. Their naturally leavened dough fuels Neapolitan-style pizzas, including the atypical “Frenchie,” a play on French onion soup with sweet caramelized onions, garlic oil, mascarpone cheese, Gruyere, tangy Sherry vinegar gastrique, and a sunny-side-up egg. They also bake a thin-crust pie that riffs on Hawaiian pizza. Check Instagram for pop-up locations once business resumes.
Indian: 786 Degrees
Ali Haider, a chef with Indian and Iraqi heritage, fires pizza in a wood-burning Neapolitan oven at locations in Sun Valley and Pasadena, where the restaurant goes by Sapori (“flavors” in Italian). Creations include Bombay tikka masala with San Marzano tomato sauce, saffron tikka masala sauce, tandoori chicken, mango chutney, burrata, paneer, sweet peppers, cilantro, and more. Their “Moroccan” pie is a vegetarian pizza blanketed with Marrakesh-style “kefta kabob,” chiles, and harissa sauce lashings. 786 Degrees also serves atypical pizzas inspired by places like Egypt, Istanbul, and Mexico. 8879 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Unit #A, Sun Valley.
Korean: Hello Pizza
This La Cañada restaurant has been in business since 2010 and feeds a foothill community with a sizable Korean population. Their Korean-inspired pies with thin, crispy crusts include bulgogi taco pizza with Korean BBQ beef, red onions, cilantro, and hot sauce; and a kimchi pie with spicy fermented cabbage sheets, sliced ham, onions, and green bell peppers. In typical times, Hello Pizza is heaven for kids, with a claw game, toy vending machines, and a wall where local elementary school kids painted pizza and everything else imaginable. 2261 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge.
Lebanese: Sunnin Bakery
Lebanon has their own clearly defined flatbread traditions, topped with ingredients like ground beef or lamb, za’atar, and/or cheese. Sunnin Bakery, named for the Middle East’s highest mountain, spun off from a favorite family-run Lebanese restaurant that moved across Westwood Boulevard in 2010, offering all of those classics and more. Executive chef Dolly Chammaa also makes room for thin, crisp-edged pizza in her arched oven. Sweet pizzas include one slathered with ashta (clotted cream) prepared with floral rose water and orange blossom water, soft banana, a honey drizzle, and crushed pistachios. Their muhammara pizza is much more savory, slathered with spicy pepper paste blended with pomegranate molasses and walnuts, topped with cheese. 1776 Westwood Blvd., Westwood.
Mexican: Burattino Brick Oven Pizza
This imaginative Rancho Palos Verdes restaurant serves some of L.A.’s most unique pizzas. Burattino partners with San Pedro sausage artisan the Chori-Man on a Christmas-colored version featuring crumbled Mexican-style red and green chorizos, bacon, garlic, tomatoes, onions, mozzarella, and marinara sauce on a cracker-like crust. Korean-Russian pizzaiolo Lee Kim also serves Croatian pizza with beef “prosciutto” geared toward the large local Croatian community and “exotic” pizzas like venison with Swedish lingonberries and Brie cheese. They also offer low-carb, high protein hemp crust pizza folded with flour. 29701 S. Western Ave #103, Rancho Palos Verdes.
Persian: Naan Hut
The name might suggest Indian food, but Naan Hut is a Persian café and bakery that’s been open since 2011 in West L.A. Their pizza teams mozzarella, marinara sauce, and a choice of toppings on sangak, pliable house-baked, sesame-studded flatbread. The chewy seeded bread makes for an interesting contract with oregano-flecked tomato sauce base. Cheese pizza works as a great light meal. They also offer versions with beef, chicken, or vegetables. 11551 Santa Monica Blvd., Sawtelle.
Swedish: Viking Pizza
Vartan Nazari lived in Stockholm and Gothenburg for 25 years and has continued baking pizza with thin crusts and crispy edges at Viking Pizza since 2015. In Sweden, immigrants influenced a popular style of pizza that sports kebab meat (shaved döner kebab is particularly popular there). Viking Pizza serves a version with pork kabob chunks atop tomato sauce with mozzarella, feta cheese, onion, pepperoni, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, cucumber, potent spiral patterned garlic sauce, punchy pepperoncini, and dried oregano. Viking also serves truly novel pizzas like the “Tropicana” with shrimp, banana, pineapple, curry, and peanuts; and the “Atlantis” with lobster, artichokes, and capers, but that’s another story. 3740 San Fernando Rd., Glendale.
This dual concept debuted in 2019 in a North Hollywood strip mall across from Wat Thai of Los Angeles, a Thai community hub. This colorful restaurant builds on ten years of success in Long Beach and serves traditional Thai dishes like boat noodles and duck stew noodles, though they’ve become well known for Thai-fusion pizzas. Tom yum pizza plays on the spicy and sour Thai soup, featuring sauce crafted with Thai chiles, lime juice, and lemongrass. Mozzarella, tomato, mushroom, cilantro and notably juicy sliced chicken breast meld with the sauce on a soft, somewhat puffy crust. Tofu, shrimp, and a seafood medley are also available on the tom yum pizza. They also serve Thai curry chicken and recently introduced kra pow pizza featuring a Thai chile, basil and garlic sauce base topped with six eggs, red and green Thai chiles, and mozzarella cheese. 8236 Coldwater Canyon Ave., North Hollywood.
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