DeSano Pizza is not like 800 Degrees, Blaze Pizza or PizzaRev where you have someone assemble your customized pizza based on ingredients to your liking. Instead, you place your order at a counter and a staff member enters it into a computer that sends it straight to the open kitchen. After you pay for your order, you turn a corner and are faced with a “wow” factor; four traditional wood-fired ovens imported from Italy. Each oven is 10,000 pounds and heats easily to 900 degrees.
The ovens have the names of an Italian city and Saint on the front. “In Italy, there is a Saint for each day. Each city is protected by a Saint, and our ovens are protected too,” said Marino Monferrato, the Managing Partner for DeSano’s Los Angeles.
Monferrato had been working at the popular Cecconi’s in West Hollywood. When Scott DeSano of DeSano Pizza restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee and in Charleston, South Carolina dined at Cecconi’s, he told Monferrato, “Your pizza is good, but my pizza is better.” At the time, Monferrato was the General Manager and Sommelier at Cecconi’s for five years. DeSano lured him away to open a DeSano Pizza and Bakery restaurant in East Hollywood.
Monferrato accepted DeSano’s offer and brought along prized Pizzaiolo, Massimiliano Di Lascio. “In my native Italy, you are surrounded by restaurants that revolve around a wood-burning oven and the pizzaiolas who makes the pies,” said Monferrato as I lunched with two friends recently at the East Hollywood location.
Both Monferrato and Di Lascio are natives of Italy and bring an authentic perspective to the casual neighborhood pizzeria. Di Lascio was raised in Salerno and became an award-winning pizzaiolo preparing pizza that he perfected in his native Italy.
Monferrato is from the Piedmont area of Italy. “It’s home to a lot of Italian wineries,” said Monferrato.
Sitting in a large 7,000 square foot warehouse space, we enjoyed a table near the kitchen and ordered a couple of the Napoli pizza pies made with authentic flavors and ingredients such as mozzarella de bufala, prosciutto cotto and a delightful peppadew. “Peppadew is a vegetable that is half tomato and red pepper. It offers a beautiful and clean taste with sausage,” said Monferrato. The peppadew has a sweet heat that peps up the flavors of the pizza.
Servers presented our freshly made pies and salads within minutes. Each pizza comes either personal-sized or larger for families, couples and friends to share. Ingredients are sourced from the Campania region of Southern Italy.
What pairs nicely with pizza or a calzone is beer or glass of red Italian wine. Unfortunately, DeSano is waiting for its liquor license. “Hopefully soon we will be serving beer and wine,” said Monferrato.
Desserts are a choice of four traditional housemade Cannoli made with homemade ricotta on thick shells imported from the East Coast. The chocolate, pistachio and Nutella were exquisite. Ask for a scoop of gelato made by local artisan Alessandro Fontana. He makes all of the gelatos in Burbank and brings them to Monferrato. The salted caramel and lemon are exquisite.
As we were about to take our first spoonful, Monferrato introduced Fontana to us. “My gelato has no chemicals and made with 40% less butterfat than ice cream. The lemon gelato is gluten free,” said Fontana.
There is an adjacent private dining room that offers a separate entrance off one of the parking lots for larger private parties. The parking is terrific for Los Angeles with two lots.
DeSano Pizza and Bakery East Hollywood is open for lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. or until DeSano runs out of dough. Free parking is offered in the attached lot. 4959 Santa Monica Blvd., (323)913-7000.
This article was also published in the Beverly Press and Park La Brea News on April 24, 2014.