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New Yorkers living in Los Angeles love to lament the city’s lack of authentic East Coast-style pizza. (Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza doesn’t count.) But with the arrival of Toddy G’s, they can lament no more.
New York native Todd Giordanella, owner of Fratelli Brick Pizza in Williamsburg, and his Southern California buddy, former pro skateboarder Salman Agah, opened the pizza joint in the downtown Arts District last month, and judging by the lines that start forming out the door every night at around 9 p.m., they’ve hit a nerve.
On Thursday, Malibu, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood dwellers Liane Weintraub, Amanda Goldberg and China Chow traveled west toward the desolate strip of 7th Street, where the only other structures that aren’t warehouses are a Mexican wrestling bar and a recently rehabbed dive called Tony’s Cocktails. In contrast, Toddy G’s clean white sign, open window counter and warm light bulbs beckoned to hipsters and model types as the smell of freshly baked dough wafted out. (Giordanella’s Uncle Charlie came from Brooklyn to train the staff and make sure the secret ingredients in the crust were just so.)
Upping the cool factor was that Maximillian Chow, brother of China, was in the kitchen, part of a rotation of guest chefs the owners have invited in to mix up the classic Italian menu. Chow, 33, is not formally trained but has spent many years working in the kitchen at his father’s restaurant, Mr. Chow, in Beverly Hills. Thursday’s two Chow specials were a pulled pork, pickled onion and cilantro pizza — he’d roasted the pork and pickled the onions the day before — and a ricotta and mushroom pie with freshly shaved black truffles on top. Last week, Chow’s carbonara pizza sold as soon as each pie came out of the oven. The flavors are unconventional, even by trendy pizza topping standards, but Chow considers each dish personally. “I just think about what I’d like to eat on a pizza,” he says. “The parameters are small. It cooks in a short amount of time, so you have to think about what you can cook fast enough, how long to crisp it, all that stuff.”
Chow eventually wants to open a private, invite-only supper club, but for now, he’s content helping out his friends once a week. “It’s like all the benefits of a relationship without the commitment,” he says. “I get to be creative and use whatever the freshest ingredients are that day, but at the end of the day I’m not cleaning out the oven.”