Monday, July 2, 2007

Pizza Week on What's To Eat LA: Damiano's Mr. Pizza

412 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Daily 11am-6am

This week is all about pizza. Hope I don't lose any fans in the process.

Pizza. There's so much you can say about a bread crust covered in sauce and cheese. It's simple like a taco and yet very complex with how subtle things must be for it to be anything special. I've had lots of pizza in LA, and for what it's worth, I'm not trying to declare what you should or shouldn't like when it comes to pizza. My feelings on this particular subject are that it's all how we grew up. Some people will swear by Papa John's or Little Caesars or Pizza Hut. Some people define Pizzeria Mozza as the quintessential best in Los Angeles while some still have a special home in their hearts for California Pizza Kitchen (I shudder just writing that).

Damiano's Mr. Pizza on Fairfax in the thick of the Fairfax District holds a special place in my heart for more than one reason. Let me start by saying that according to Yelp, and a few choice others, that by me saying that, I will have made some enemies. I'm not going to argue and call the Yelpers liars or anything but I just have to disagree from my own experience in eating out...often.

Let me first remark on some of the obvious qwirks of Damiano's. If you decide to eat inside be aware that they haven't had the lights on in there for what seems like possibly a decade if they ever had them on at all. So if you plan on eating in, realize that you probably only want the first table closest to the door if it's night time and possibly the 3rd table in if you're eating in the daytime. The beer selection is extensive and I do mean 40+ different types extensive(some pricier, some cheaper). The wait staff changes a lot. This apparently according to Yelpers is something to complain about. It's pizza. You don't really have to have a degree to know the toppings on the pizza, the sizes you carry, the beverages and scribbling ability for the cook. That being said, every time I've gone has been great. I'm not going to define great by being the most amazing experience, but it's been consistently good, and no drama at all from the wait staff. I don't look anything special to naked eye, so it's not like they respected me more than anyone else. In fact, I look rather forgettable in a crowd of middle class 20 something Angelenos. One last thing before I get onto the actual pizza, they deliver... and deliver LATE (they close at 6 AM!) if need be! Not to mention, when I asked what there radius was they said wherever. There is a charge for getting that pizza wherever so always ask how much extra for delivery to Glendale ;)

Their pizza, in my mind(from growing up in the Bronx and Connecticut), tastes very similar to NY pizza. How do they do it? I don't know. BUT, there is one thing that all the NY pizza I ever had that was different... certain spices. Hard to put my finger on it but I know it's missing that one key element. If I may, let me go off on a tangent. What's the deal with it being like, " that's a NY style pizza" or can you believe this Chicago-style deep-dish dough. Like those are what define amazing pizza. Pizza is good if you like it. Plain and simple. In my mind it's the whole wine mentality. Drink what tastes good to you not what someone tells you tastes good or by how expensive it is. The cheese is very well cheesy haha. Not a cheese soup and the dough is almost crunchy thin crust but inside it's fluffy.

(Does this look dried out and gross as according to some Yelpers?)

As mentioned before they do deliver ultra late and there's always a delivery charge. Now here is where I will possibly talk a little down. I've heard horror stories from lots of different places with pizza delivery. Sometimes you get a sucky driver who doesn't deliver your pizza. In such an instance when you don't trust the driver, pay with cash. If the pizza comes super late don't pay for it. Or if you're really evil and don't care about ordering from them again don't open your door. It sucks but business is business. You shouldn't have to pay for something you don't want or that didn't come to you in a timely manner. Bottomline is that if you're pissed off with a delivery then call the place of business and complain. Some people just let themselves be victims and never stand up for themselves and then piss and moan about it on a forum. That's not right. I say all this cause people have complained about having bad delivery stories from Damiano's (via Yelp). If we were to see all the times Pizza Hut screwed up a delivery they would be out of business from all the bad press. You just expect it to happen sometimes. What can you do?

Do I like Damiano's? Yup sure do (so does Pat at Eating LA who writes for Variety). It's a huge (big freaking NY style slices), tasty, cheesy pizza pie that reminds me of living in New York (notice I said it reminds ME) and they've consistently given me a great pizza pie that's hard to beat for the things that are on my intangible taste list for pizza. Oh and not everyone on Yelp says they've had a bad experience...some people would take a bullet for Damiano's and some even say it's the best pizza they've had in LA. But what do they know ;)

As a very odd PS., many people love to come here at one in the morning when they've been out drinking...a lot (particularly after a show at Largo). Something about being buzzed and good pizza.

Free Drink Refills: On normal soda yes on everything else no
Entree Price Range: To not quote dollar amounts I'll give a single $ instead.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, you can join Yelp, too. That's the beauty of the site - anyone can voice their opinion.

July 5, 2007 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Aubrey said...

Oh I know I can. It's just that then you become a part of the huge forum. Many restaurants have talked about their disdain for forums like Yelp and Chow because they're just random voices sometimes tearing down restaurants without giving critique on how to get better. With your own page you can be a single solitary voice that people can be free to tag as biased or unbiased as a single person. With Yelp I feel there are a bunch of good people (writers/reviewers) who can get lumped with the bad ones who just make the entire thing look bad sometimes. It's those people that make the entire thing suffer. If you're a Yelper I got no qualms with you per se...but just keep it real about the food and service :)

July 5, 2007 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Selby said...

I guess your voice is more important than that of many? Yelp is a community that makes an effort to give an honest assessment of various businesses. I have never written a review regarding Damiano's but it would fit in with many others. And would I disagree a few others. The point being that I follow various reviewers and find that many of them have the same taste as myself. This is very helpful in finding new places to check out. Your opinion is but one. Your 'unique' writing style indicates that a bias exists - making your opinion unreliable.

July 5, 2007 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Aubrey said...

I never said my voice was more important than others. I've just chosen to write about places I feel deserve a good wrap. My opinion is but one and in the end that's all that matters to me. I've found that many people have enjoyed my writing and that's cool too. The point on my simple page is to give people a place to go for food based on my view. I don't waste my time on places that suck. Hence why I started my post off the way that I did explaining that I myself have yet to have a bad time at Damiano's. And it's true.

Oh and what unique writing style? I'm a cheap guy who likes to eat. When I want to dine expensive I can do so and when I want to eat cheap I can as well. My "unique" writing style looks kind of like many other restaurant bloggers at least in my humble opinion. Never meant to piss off the I said, a bunch of them are great but it's the others that make the good ones suffer.

July 5, 2007 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yelp is a complaint forum not a review forum. If yelp had wanted it any other way, they'd have started out with a different name. Thanks man for being real and tellin it like it is.

July 5, 2007 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Selby said...

Yelp is for compliments as much as it is for commentary. Some of the best reviews of Damiano's, for example, are on the site. But then again this review wasn't really about Damiano's as it was an unnecessary attack on Yelp.

July 5, 2007 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Aubrey said...

As for why I do this on here and not on Yelp, it's because people have asked me to. For years my friends asked me why I didn't have a page or something talking about the bazillion places I've been at in LA that I've recommended to them that they now love. I finally decided to crack down and not be lazy anymore. Oh, and thanks for the extra traffic to my site. It's always appreciated.

Now this is getting fun that you've started a Yelp topic on me. Way rad. Oh and for the yelpers who were wondering...nope it wasn't photoshopped in any way... wish I knew how. For those who see it as I'm intended it, not that I hate your precious Yelp, but that certain Yelpers ruin a place(aka the restaurant they're writing about) by not giving it a second try. Some places give a sucky night of service... I'll give those places a second try cause even the best have off times. You make it seem like I'm attacking the entire organization when, in actuality, I'm sticking up a for a place (voicing my opinion like you do on Yelp) that I feel should be shown in good light (or at least the light the bare minimal light that's allowed in Damianos haha). As for those who find my writing poor, that's ok. I can live with that. There's no reason for you to get riled up. I'm a lone voice in the huge blog world. I'm not all that important, and you guys have nothing to worry about. It's not like I'm Mario Batali talking about how much he dislikes online reviewers of restaurants. On the other hand many of you feel that I designed my post around hatred of Yelp... when in fact it was just a retort about a place I like. Plain and simple. But sadly, not everyone can be appeased by my "rambling diatribe". Not even the Yelp fire extinguisher brigade (though there's no fire here to speak of).

July 5, 2007 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger City Elf said...

Hi, Aubrey:

With Yelp, you do actually have your own page and you can review whatever places you like. If you go to, for example, you can see all the fine establishments (not including Damiano's) that I have reviewed. /end shameless plug

Yelpers do talk about food - we're foodies at heart, with tastes and wallet sizes that run the full gamut. We're open to trying almost anything and we often do give places second chances. Just because some people don't like Damiano's doesn't mean it's objectively bad; just because you do doesn't mean it's objectively good.

You can prop something up (Damiano's) without tearing something else down (Yelp.) I hope you follow your own advice and give Yelp a "second chance."


July 5, 2007 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Aubrey said...

Here we go again. While I say that Yelp has it problems not all Yelpers are bad. It is this that I make my case. I've seen many a review while I was bored online (Yes lurking frank l. but that's not how I found my wonderful thread on Yelp) I was stressing my point of view (strongly may I add since I'm is my page after all) that I feel that Damiano's got a bad rap. As a generalization people go to a place and if they don't have a good time they don't go back. This is a generalization. Not all people are like this. And I agree some people just will not like Damiano's but hey aren't we all voicing opinions just differently. I just happened to use some bad reviews as my jumping ground. As far as giving Yelp a second chance I never said you guys should be shut down (though some may argue that)or that I gave up on you to have to need to go to a second chance. There are some great writers on there who in my opinion get snubbed because of the people who give lame reviews that are just pissed off rants without any real info. I have no problem existing in a world of opinions. Just how Carrie (Yelp thread) thinks I'm a creep. I'm okay with her opinion on that ;)

July 5, 2007 at 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey dude. It's all good. Opinions are opinions.

I like Damianos when I'm on Fairfax after a night of partying at The Kibbitz Room or The Dime and Canters is crowded.

But forget about getting it delivered to you at 2 a.m. when you really need their love.

They once told me and my buddy that they're on their way, but a hour later, nuthin'.

July 5, 2007 at 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't like Yelp and you don't "use" it.
what's the big deal? and you must be grateful because they certainly increased your traffic

July 5, 2007 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger Aubrey said...

Actually I've completely enjoyed the extra traffic. Thank you all who've cared enough to read my page and comment. What's great is now people can read both Yelp reviwes and my reviews based on all this press we've given them. It's been a good day indeed for the myriad of opinions ;)

July 5, 2007 at 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

13 years ago, I first ordered from Mr. Pizza because of the lateness (or earliness) of the hour. Coming from the East Coast I was surprised by just how good the pizza was. I've been ordering ever since, and I have rarely been disappointed. When my wife was pregnant, she would get cravings (always at un-Godly hours) for the sausage and egg sandwiches. Let the yelpers yelp. That's what the site is there for.

July 12, 2007 at 11:37 PM  
Blogger Aubrey said...

Amen to that!

July 13, 2007 at 9:25 AM  

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