I first visualized this column as a way to highlight the long-standing pizza makers in town leading up to Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day. However, a familiar theme emerged during conversations with my born-and-raised Pedro friends about pizza.
After reading my article featuring Joseph’s Bakery’s (1027 S. Meyler St.) pizza, my friend Janet Tawa shared her husband Mike’s memories of stopping by for a slice on his way home from San Pedro High School. Tawa’s affinity for Joseph’s pizza is deeply rooted in his childhood memories. This feeling mirrors my husband’s fondness for his childhood pizza stop that’s not debatable or comparable to other long-standing local establishments. It quickly became clear that childhood memories define individual preferences in a town with so many pizza options.
My introduction to Pedro pizza came when my husband and I were first dating. He lifted the lid of a Sorrento’s Italian Restaurant’s (2428 S. Western Ave.) box with a twinkle in his eye and proudly declared that it was his favorite pizza. My father-in-law often brought home Sorrento’s special minus anchovies as a treat for the family. The special is loaded with sweet tomato sauce, ground beef, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers, then topped with cheese. From the menu, I have only had the margherita pizza at a friend’s place because bringing home anything but the special is unthinkable in our household!
My friend Rosalie Carswell grew up eating her mother Antonia Ciaramitaro’s homemade pizza, who is of Instagram fame @AdventuresofNona. However, when eating out, their preferred choice was Domenick’s Pizza House (28360 S. Western Ave.). Her family usually opted for the combination, which is made with pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms. My experience has been that the red sauce here stands out because it is flavorful, and I am a fan of the combination option, too. What makes this restaurant special is the energy and hospitality of owner Theresa Sardisco. To the best of my knowledge, Domenick’s is the only place in town where you can purchase heart-shaped pizza on Valentine’s Day. There will also be cannoli and chocolate-covered strawberries made by Carswell, a talented baker and Sardisco’s lifelong friend.
I was introduced to the next two establishments by our town’s historian Angela Romero on a pizza walking tour she led.
Bonello’s New York Pizza (806 S. Gaffey St.) is one of the few places where you can purchase pizza by the slice for a very reasonable price. The crust is thin, and it gets crunchier the closer you get to the round edge. Their red sauce has a subtle flavor with the right amount of tang. There are many topping options from the list posted above the counter. Everything about this pizza is even and just the right amount — meaning, no piles of sauce or cheese that make it soggy. Although I like their cheese pizza, sometimes I order a slice with mushrooms, which are cooked on the spot and placed on top of the cheese pizza.
I really like Buono’s Pizzeria’s (222 W. 6th St.) new bright and welcoming location. I like to explore their gourmet pizza options because of the creative combination of toppings. Thus far, my favorite is Pizza Giorgio, which is topped with artichoke hearts, breaded and sautéed eggplant, sautéed garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh basil, and feta cheese.
Although the youngest, Big Nick’s Pizza (1110 N. Gaffey St.), is firmly established for good reason. Their pizza is often donated for fundraisers around town, which shows commitment to this community. They are open later than most restaurants in Pedro, which is a lifesaver for longshoremen who work the nightshift, like my husband, who stops by a couple of times a week on his break. Lastly, their well-polished and enticing social media videos highlight their specialties and spots around town. There are many pizza options on the menu, and the service is prompt. I am a fan of their combo pizza, which is topped with a generous amount of pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and olives. I like to order mine with jalapeños. spt