12/9/09 Update - Original Post follows
My roomie took me tonite for a birthday dinner. We had the Mustapha which has prosciutto, mozarella, and topped with arugula. I've had it before and really like it because I love the saltiness of prosciutto. We also had the Elisa with mozarella, Toscano salame, onion, fennel, romano and oregano. It was also good, but I still preferred the Mustapha.
Robert, the owner, came out to talk to us tonite. We talked about the divide between people who prefer Hot Italian and those who like Masullo's. He said he didn't mind the comparisons because it sort of drove business for people to try both - so they both win. This time it was a Wednesday night and business was moderate but constant.
The menu changes seasonally and this month they had gingerbread on the dessert menu. It was served with spiced apples and a little whipped cream. We received a nice sized wedge and found it was nicely spiced and served warm.
I fall into the Masullo's camp and am so glad it is only a quarter mile from my house.
Masullo Pizza would be missed if you didn't know it was there or had the address. So far they have no signage and they are in a small strip building next to a smog check and auto repair. So I better give you the address: 2711 Riverside Blvd.
The restaurant itself is very spartan. The tables are made from wood from one old neighborhood oak tree. But simplicity often works and is a nice change of pace.
This is the small Margherita pizza. What is wrong with this picture?
Perhaps I'm spoiled or something. But I'm used to Margherita pizzas having more basil. There are only three leaves on here! But then I was researching on the internet and see that my understanding of a Margherita might be incorrect. In fact, Wikipedia gives an explanation and pictures of Margheritas that look just like this one.
The Masullo pizzas are done Neopolitan style.
"the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of Italian wheat flour, natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other mechanical device, and may be no more than 3 mm (¹⁄₈ in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant."
I had called in my order to go and was surprised when they said it would be done in 5-10 minutes. I guess that's because of the thin crust and the high temperature oven. Sure enough, I was there in 10 minutes and it was coming out of the oven.
My Margherita seemed to fit the criteria. It had a nice thin bread crust. I'm still disappointed, though, in the amount of basil and cheese and I was unimpressed with the sauce - very plain. But I'm willing to try again. I look forward to trying the Jacqueline of potato, fontina, oregano and Niman Ranch bacon and the Mustapha of mozzarella, granna, prosciutto and arugula. Stay tuned for an updated review.
We went on a Friday night and the place was PACKED! It's a small place, so it doesn't take much. Every place at the communal large tables were taken as well. Luckily the people waiting were all for one large group, so the two of us were able to be seated in about five minutes.
This was my first time eating in - I had always just picked up "to go" orders. The tables are set with chilled bottles of water that are just refilled later with tap water and rechilled. We each ordered a salad. I had the mixed greens which came with nice, salty slices of prosciutto and a balsamic vinegrette. My friend had the frisee salad with blue cheese and pine nuts. Both came with two small triangles of pizza crust that was nicely salted.
This time we ordered the Lupe, which is a new pizza combo. It had broccoli rabe, bacon, anchovies, and cheese. I've never had anchovies on pizza before but did like that super saltiness that they gave to offset the bitterness of the rabe. A great pizza that we both liked.
BTW, I had previously ordered the Josephine with the thinly sliced potato. Didn't really care for that one. Also, I observed the American, which is basically a pepperoni pizza. Be aware that, like the Margherita, the toppings are sparse. So expect only about 5-6 pepperonis and not covered like you would find at other pizza places.