Photos by Asia Morris.
It’s not just the pizza that matters, but it’s also where you eat it that counts. Pizzanista!, the Los Angeles-based “beacon of celebratory, imaginative, unpretentious dining,” has landed in Long Beach as its latest haven for serving thin-crust style New York pizza without the attitude.
The new location is located on 7th Street near Cherry Avenue, and is Long Beach’s newest dining establishment to serve food and positive vibes out of a historical house.
Price Latimer, Pizzanista!’s co-owner and talented art consultant told the Post that she and the restaurant's founder, Salman Agah, had looked at what felt like hundreds of different locations in both Los Angeles and Orange County before finally finding a spot for their second outpost, thanks to a Long Beach resident who turned them on to a property in one of the city’s many historic districts.
“We chose the location in Long Beach because we loved the idea of having a restaurant in a 1911 Craftsman bungalow in the charming Hellman Street/Craftsman Historic District,” said Latimer. “In addition, we appreciated the fact that the space had a storied history as a neighborhood eatery, La Rizza's Pizza House, which was a family-owned Italian restaurant open for over 50 years.”
While La Rizza’s Pizza House closed in 2011 after maintaining its legacy as one of Long Beach’s most beloved family-owned restaurants, Pizzanista!, which acquired the property last year, has since gutted and completely reconceptualized the space. Now that La Rizza’s is gone, a new generation of pizza-lover has moved in and created a space for the community, whether it’s the food you’re after or you’re headed to an event—the space was designed so Pizzanista! could serve patrons as well as host events.
“Pizzanista! has created a unique niche and made a name for ourselves by orchestrating these types of unique events, collaborations, book signings, charity events and guest chef nights with world-renowned athletes, chefs, artists and brands,” said Latimer. “We anticipate being able to do many more of these in Long Beach!”
As far as the food is concerned, Latimer suggested that first-time customers order the Pepperoni (it’s their bestseller), while the Meat Jesus is a popular second. Pizzanista! also throws one heck of a brunch with their Smoked Salmon Pizza, the Mixed Berries, Ricotta & Orange Honey Pizza and the Italian Sausage, Scrambled Egg & Caramelized Onion Pizza. Their infamous Macaroni & Cheese Pizza is served only on Sundays and is available in vegan form, as well.
Long Beach’s Pizzanista! opened about a month ago, and while that may make it seem a bit early to throw down a couple criticisms, their first location opened in Los Angeles’ Arts District in 2011, so you’d think they’d have gotten their pineapple-bacon pizza down by now. The food is made with the freshest ingredients, according to the site, but perhaps the fruit was deemed ready to serve before it had the chance to ripen, as in the pineapple chunks were pretty much pebble-hard. The Garlic Knots looked rather appealing, but when it came to actually biting into one, they seemed awfully tough to chew. And the marinara sauce they’re served with was no warmer than a cold, wet day in Long Beach, and too watery to stick to the knots.
Only two Pizzanista! Yelp reviewers out of the 25 who have shared their thoughts on the new location so far had the same complaints about the knots and the hard pineapple, and one of my dining companions said they’d give the place a solid seven out of ten after trying a slice of the Sicilian and Cheese. So maybe my issues were anomalies, or maybe my co-diner (and a handful of Yelpers) just have better luck than me.
A major thumbs up goes to Pizzanista! for taking vegans into consideration. They had an entire row of vegan pizzas (three, to be exact) that actually looked appetizing, not like crazy mad scientist-made concoctions from a lab. And the staff consisted of some of the friendliest, most down-to-earth and helpful bunch around, people I could picture myself hanging out with if they’d ever oblige (I probably blew my chances with that bit about the pineapple, though).
Honestly, the employee who stepped around the counter to walk me patiently through what each of the displayed pizzas had to offer my palate, who explained that the vegan pizza might look a little weird because, well, that kind of “cheese” doesn't actually melt very well, deserves a gold star or five.
The chilled-out staff certainly contributed to the overall skate-scene theme, something both Latimer and Agah certainly sought out, stemming from Agah’s extensive background as a professional skateboarder.
“We love Long Beach's laid-back and friendly vibe and felt the location was befitting for Pizzanista!’s demographic, since Long Beach has great, long-standing music, art, skate and surf scenes,” said Latimer.
All in all, Pizzanista! will be a rad place to grab a beer—once the location receives its Conditional Use Permit, within the next few months—and a slice or two, or even a salad if you’re feeling healthy (they’re enormous).
And if you're strapped for cash, stop by and grab a day-old dollar slice. It’s a sweet spot to hang out, eat well and enjoy the neighborhood.
Pizzanista! is located at 1837 East 7th Street.