DeSano Pizza Bakery is bringing a slice of Naples to East Hollywood. The casual neighborhood pizzeria, which opened in February, specializes in authentic Neopolitan-style pizzas. Authentic as in their wood-burning ovens were imported from the motherland, ingredients are sourced from the Campania region of southern Italy, and their pizzaiolo Massimiliano Di Lascio is from Salerno. Even their managing partner Marino Monferrato hails from Italy. Talk about legit.
As we approached DeSano, we observed something almost unimaginable in LA: an enormous lot with complimentary parking. The place was already winning us over. Once inside, we ordered at the counter and made our way to the spacious, family-style dining room filled with hardwood picnic tables. With the wood-fired ovens to our left and two large flat screens to our right, there was no shortage of entertainment while we waited for our dinner.
Unsurprisingly, I gravitated more towards the pizzas being prepped than the basketball games playing in the background.
As part of tradition, each of the four 10,000 pound, 900-degree ovens was named after an Italian saint.
We began with a platter of antipasto ($15.00) with prosciutto, bresaola, salame, mortadella, and pecorino, which arrived on a large wooden pizza peel. Each cured meat was tasty on its own or mixed up with the accompanying basil, cheese or bread wedges.
The humble margherita pizza with tomato, mozzarella, garlic, and basil is often the best way to introduce oneself to a new pizza joint. With no distracting flourishes or gimmicks to hide behind, the margherita showcases the quality of its ingredients and craftmanship, and this deliciously simple, fresh pizza didn't disappoint ($12.00). The all-important crust was top notch--both perfectly crisp with a slight char and satisfyingly chewy.
Also swoonworthy was the namesake Desano pizza with sausage crumbles, torn pepperoni, garlic and mozzarella ($15.00).
At the suggestion of Marino, we also ordered the Gigiotto calzone ($15.00), a hefty parcel of broccoli rabe, sausage, and buffalo mozzarella enrobed in pizza dough. Crisp and blistered on the outside and soft and gooey within, this was so good that I sometimes find myself daydreaming about it.
Since wine and Italian food go hand-in-hand, DeSano Pizzeria Bakery's liquor license is in the works, and they hope to have wine and beer (curated by Marino, the former GM of Cecconi's) in time for the World Cup.
For dessert, DeSano offers an assortment of gelati and cannoli handmade by Alessandro Fontana, the man behind the gelati at Gelato Bar and Espresso Cafe.
Both the tradizionale and nocciola cannoli ($4.25) boasted a shell with a satisfying crunch and silken filling, but it was the traditional cannoli piped with creamy ricotta and dipped in chocolate chips that stole my heart.
To finish, a scoop of creamy, refreshing hazelnut gelato.
DeSano Pizza Bakery is serving up some of the best pizzas in the city. Given the stellar crust that provides the base for all of the joint's pizza and calzones, it's tough to imagine that you could go wrong ordering anything here. Just to be safe, though, I'll probably need to order everything on the menu. You know, for research.
DeSano Pizza Bakery
4959 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029