A lot of restaurants are all bark and no bite. They are full of too much hype and not enough flavor. From food trucks to hole in the walls to 5 star establishments, I'm here to answer the question on everyone's mind, "Is it really that good!" I am not an Iron Chef let alone a line cook. I'm just an ordinary girl who loves to eat extraordinary food.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Masa. A Piece of Chicago in Eagle Rock, CA.

Ed is from Chicago. If he is not playing the "Michael Jordan is the best basketball player to have every graced the courts" record, he is playing the "Chicago style pizza is the best pizza and nothing compares to it" one.  

We finally found a place in Fullerton, CA that we both like and is good enough to satisfy his pizza craving until he is able to visit his hometown again.  Drawn by the title of a program "Pizza Paradise," he became glued to the TV watching a show that featured all these pizza places but was upset that none were located in Southern California.  Now that his search for Chicago style pizza was fueled by this show, Ed googled “Best Pizza in Southern California” and Masa was among those at the top of the list. Located in Echo Park, CA, Masa is known to serve authentic deep dish pizza.  What was just a Google search on a Thursday afternoon, soon became Friday night's dinner.  Trust me, there was no convincing him to eat anywhere else.  Masa is a small little mom and pop restaurant. Nothing fancy, no huge sign that says “look at me!” “eat here!” If you’re from around the area you have definitely heard of the place. If you are a fan of Chicago style pizza, you’ve either eaten here or have wanted to eat here.

We were served a loaf of bread with butter to tide us over while we perused the menu. The bread was served warm, soft and tasted fresh. I’m not sure what type of bread it was, but it was so good we finished it before it was time to order.

For our appetizer, we ordered the artichoke dip ($6.95). Their menu described it as “marinated artichoke hearts, spinach, roasted red pepper, onion, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses served with a Masa Cuban roll for dipping.” The Masa Cuban roll was really good. It wasn’t the same bread that was served at the beginning. It was softer, fluffier and a little sweeter. As far as it being used as a dipping tool, no can do. You can dip it and slide it through whatever is left over, but you definitely can’t just dunk it into the dip and have it stick to your bread. The reason I say this is because it’s not your, well, I should say my typical run in with an artichoke dip. The artichoke dips I have had are so cheesy that it looks like a white thick dip with specks of green because the artichokes and spinach are diced so finely. With this dip, the artichokes are in big chunks that you either have to scoop it with a utensil and place it on top of your bread, or you take a big enough piece of bread where you can pinch the two ends together to scoop up some of the filling. Is that a bad thing? Not at all! My first bite I had an unexpected burst of tangy flavor. I don’t know what the artichokes are marinated in, probably some sort of olive oil, citrus mixture. Also with this dip, if you notice in the picture, it doesn’t look like the normal artichoke dip in that it doesn’t have as much cheese. The Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses aren’t the stars of this dish.  As a matter of fact, you can hardly taste the cheeses. That was totally OK with me. This was different than any other artichoke dip I’ve had and I really liked it. I could’ve eaten the entire thing myself.

For our Chicago pizza, and I specify that we ordered Chicago pizza because there is an option to order Bistro pizza (I have no clue what this is actually), we ordered a large traditional pizza ($19.95) and added pepperoni ($3). Their traditional pizza had sweet Italian sausage and mushrooms. The pizza was definitely more than enough for the four of us, well 3 ½ of us. The sausage on the pizza wasn’t little cuts of sausage but was a thin crisp sausage pattie on top of the other toppings. I took a bite and it was good. The sausage though wasn’t sweet and I was fine by that.

The bottom crust was thin, not too crispy, but crispy enough to hold up with the toppings. The side crust however was a little to bready for me. It was thick and too much to eat for me, on its own. The flavor of the pizza was good. My only problem was that there wasn’t enough sauce. The sauce was great. It was sweet, garlicky and tangy all at the same time. When a chunk of tomato happens to fall on your plate, it is good to eat as is. I really wished there was more sauce on the pizza because with more sauce, the more falls out onto the plate. That fall out would’ve been the perfect dipping sauce for the left over crust.  Also, authentic Chicago style pizza has corn meal on the crust and this one did.

If this was my first encounter with a Chicago style pizza, I would’ve been wowed by it. It was good, but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had.  I would come back and eat here again for their pizza, but would definitely have to add extra sauce (bummed that you have to pay $3 more for it though) and would try the gnocchi dish that the couple sitting next to us kept raving to each other about. We went on a Friday night at around 9:30 so parking was hard to find. There are two parking lots adjacent to Masa but they were completely full. We ended up parking in the residential area across the park almost 3 blocks away.  So if you are not wary to walk through the streets of Echo park, try this place out. Great service, good food.

1 comment:

  1. I've never had Chicago style pizza before but so want to try it. The pizza looks sooo good. I agree with you, I'd need extra sauce for the crust too! :)