800 Degrees–Neapolitan Pizza in Westwood

PHOTO: Blurry pizza.

Obsessive foodies in general can be insufferable, with the best pizza snob subset maybe among the most annoying. (You know who you are–56 Yelp takes after just couple of weeks of being open.) I don’t mean the regionalists–Chicago vs. NYC vs. California argument–but the gourmand types who wax poetic about this or that particular pizza, about how transcendent this particular triangle of cheese and flour is over all other triangles of cheese and flour. It’s pizza, people. Apart from a public school lunch or a supermarket freezer box it’s usually fine even when it’s “bad”, as the saying goes. Enter 800 Degrees into the fray, toeing the lines between fast, affordable and quality ingredients with au courant Neapolitan-style pies in a new spot in the retail roulette wheel that is Westwood Village.

PHOTO: Wilshire highrise office drones queue up for lunch.

The hook here is the ingredient assembly line, Subway by way of Chipotle. Except here, each reach for a topping will tack on another buck–at least–$3 for prosciutto–to your pie. It’s fairly swift and kind of fun even if the line might hang out the door with the Wilshire highrise office drones during lunch hours. There are a handful preconfigured “classics” and gourmand pies on the menu to choose from, the cheapest of which is $5. That’s a lot of empty calories and carbs for a fiver.*

PHOTO: Despite that one worker’s do-rag, Miller Lite is not available here for sale, yet at least.

So is it any good? Yeah, it’s pretty good. Again–it’s just pizza, people–relax. I had the margherita. It’s big, it’s very thin, has some nice crunch on the crust if a bit soggy in the center. The dominant note in some bites was the olive oil and it could have used another sprig or two of basil but it mostly worked. It probably isn’t going to win over any Pizzaria Bianco or Mozza snobs, but then you don’t have to suffer a trip to Phoenix or make an advance reservation here. Give them a little bit of time to work out the opening kinks and settle into their groove. And by then, Five Guys should be open a block over and thin out the line a bit.

*Instead of overpraising 800 Degrees for the value of getting a whole mediumish pie for as little as $5, how about acknowledge this is what pizza should cost and we go after those that have inflated pizza prices to the current overpriced norm. I don’t want to hear about the price of “quality” ingredients. We all go to the same markets and can see what the stuff actually costs.