Okay, I’ve come to the conclusion that you have to be either really confident, or really stupid to claim that you make the best pizza in town. Or maybe both. You certainly can’t rely on what others say is the best pizza in town because let’s face it: we’re Southern Californians people!! This isn’t New York City or Italy where everyone knows their pizza and you only have to walk a few blocks to get the-best-pizza-I’ve-ever-had-in-my-life! And notice that I said walk, not drive, since pretty much everywhere else on the planet, people actually walk on their own two legs to get to other places, not get in their cars to drive five blocks. Everyone knows that we’re not known for the best pizza. We can claim all kinds of other besties, like, this is the best, safest place to live, or, this is the best place to spot a movie star, or, we have the best, rude asshole drivers on the road!!
But not pizza.
And some would say that I must be either really confident or really stupid to try to find the best pizza in town, and you know what I say to them? “Well, you could be right… but you’re probably not. And don’t call me stupid.” Now I know that’s a contradiction but believe me, I’m used to working within the boundaries of contradictions. So I set off to find myself the best possible pizza in town, and I’m working within the boundaries of the Conejo Valley specifically. Why, you ask? Because I’m used to contradicting myself within certain boundaries.
Now I have researched quite a few places (and have even tried a few of them), only to get either completely disappointed, or, found it was excellent, but paid way too much! For instance, I happen to think that a wood-fired oven is the best way to cook a pizza. But it turns out, if you want to get a wood-fired pizza in this town, you’re going to pay out the ying yang for it (not to be confused with yin & yang, which is kinda like a contradiction). Sure, I’ll talk about where to get those pizzas… another time. Right now, I’m going to talk about where to get a really great pizza that doesn’t rip the money right out of your ying yang. But before I get started, I just want to say please don’t send me a bunch of emails telling me I’m wrong about the place I chose, due to the fact that it’s simply impossible to get the best pizza in this town, because if you’ll notice, I said the best possible pizza, not THE best pizza.
There are things to consider when making a great pizza besides what apparatus it’s cooked in. There’s the water, for instance. Some would say that the water used to make the dough is the key, and Lord knows the water here is crap! We used to have fantastic water, us Connayo Valleyans. Now, we have terrible water for some reason (“Excuse me, why does my water taste like bleach?”) Some would say sure, yeah, it’s the water, but it’s also the other ingredients, like using the best tomatoes for the sauce, and a wonderful, creamy mozzarella cheese (not to be pronounced moo-zarella, because that is a bastardization of the word. It’s pronounced just like it’s spelled: mozza-rella. Don’t need to fudge the letters, ‘kay?) Personally, I think it’s a little bit of everything, but the number one ingredient in making damned good pizza, is putting your heart into making it! If you really love it, and really want to make your customers happy when they eat it, you have to put your heart into making the pizza for them! Simple.
That’s why I like going to Pizzeria La Piccola in Thousand Oaks. No, they don’t have a wood-fired oven, they have a regular gas pizza oven. But the way they make the pizza is great because the owner really cares about making great pizza for his guests. It’s nice and thin, and the crust is crispy and chewy at the same time. The tomato sauce is really clean and fresh tasting too, with a good balance of sweet and tart and just a subtle amount of herbs and seasonings, just like it should. Thank goodness because some places try to doll up their overly sweet tomato sauce by adding tons of herbs and spices to it, which only makes it taste worse! You can’t make already-crappy sauce taste better folks, it has to be good from the get-go!
Now the owner didn’t claim he made the best pizza in town… wait a minute… yes, he did actually make that claim, now that I think about it! I remember the first time I called to inquire whether he had a wood-burning pizza oven or not, he said, and I quote: “No, but we make the best pizza in town and I think you should come in and try ours.” Wow, that takes some balls people, and I’m not talking about rice balls either!!
So my conclusion is that it takes heart AND confidence to make great pizza, AND it takes stupidity to make the claim that you have the best pizza in town, AND to know exactly where to find great pizza… wait a second, that would imply that I’m stupid and that’s just ridiculous because only other people can be stupid, not me! It takes a really intelligent person to differentiate between being stupid and not being stupid!
What I’m trying to say is, that if you want the best pizza you’ve ever had in your life, then just take a trip to Italy with a stop-over in New York City. Otherwise, just take my suggestion… that way, you won’t look stupid.
Pizzeria La Piccola
1321 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., #116
Thousand Oaks, CA