In a city where flavored popcorn and artisan alcoholic drinks are among current culinary trends, an old standby — a heavy, cheesy, meat-laden standby — also is proving popular.
Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is headlining the menu at several restaurants in Los Angeles, a city where dining choices tend to be more healthy and less pepperoni-packed.
"People who never had deep dish like the product for what it is. It's very encouraging," said David Miscimarra, owner of Hollywood Pies (hollywoodpies.com) on Pico Boulevard.
A former Chicagoan and an engineer by trade, Miscimarra was living in San Diego when he decided to bring Chicago deep-dish to LA in 2011. He started with curbside pickup — you'd call in an order and someone would run out to meet you, pie in hand — and business boomed.
"People came around like crazy. It was all word of mouth," he said of the early days. He now is in his fourth location, getting bigger and better, and about a year ago began offering seating.
A larger restaurant is Masa of Echo Park (masaofechopark.com) on Sunset Boulevard. Owned by the husband-wife team of Rob Rowe and Rhonda Reynolds, it opened in 2004 and offers a wider menu, but deep dish pizzas are Masa's specialty, including a popular vegan version.
Rowe, who worked at pizza joints in Chicago before moving to California in 1995, said the hard part was getting LA types to wait 45 minutes for their pizza. "We knew that once they accepted that, we'd be fine."
He also had to win over expat Chicagoans: "Chicagoans can be skeptical and hard and not nice at first. They come in here, with their arms crossed and that 'Is this gonna be worth it?' attitude. And then you tell them there's a 45-minute wait, they lighten up."
One of them is Nick Tinkle, an ex-Chicagoan who works for NBC Universal. He has lived in Los Angeles for two years, and, he said, "This is where I come when I miss Chicago."
And for an even bigger Chicago appetite, there's Taste Chicago (tastechicago.biz) on Hollywood Way in Burbank. Owned by actor Joe Mantegna's wife, Arlene, it has not only deep dish but Italian beef and Chicago hot dogs as well.