*Here is an update to my review (Feb. 2012) on Artizan Pizza Kitchen which can be found below.*
Almost a year ago, I did a review on Artizan Pizza Kitchen, and when I walked in earlier this week, it was as if I never left.
They are still under the same ownership and management, and when I went in I saw the familiar face of General Manager Bob Wood. As I looked back in the kitchen, I didn't see any of the head chefs from last year, and when I inquired about this, Wood said the other chefs had moved on, and their new head chef is Pat Evans.
With so many great choices from last year, I decided to order their large Organic BBQ Chicken Pizza, and as I was waiting, Wood pointed some new menu items. Chef Evans had added some appetizers, including a mushroom and artichoke heart mix with goat cheese, topped with a homemade vinaigrette. I tried it, and have to say, the flavors merried well together, and when I bit into the mushrooms, I got just the right crunch to it, and couldn't stop eating the artichoke hearts and grated goat cheese!
They have also added some different pizzas to their menu including a Prosciutto Pineapple that sounds yummy, but have added desserts as well. They are so new, they are not on the menu as of yet, but there is mini-billboard of the three desserts on the counter.
I tried the Fruit Sorbet, which is inside of a real coconut shell, (something I have never see, but what a great idea) and although I could have eaten 10 of these, I have their Chocolate Raspberry on my mind next time I'm in!
Oh, and for the pizza I ordered? It still has their signature fresh flavors, nice dough, with just the right density and crip to it, and more importantly, the knowing and taste of the freshest ingredients (from local Farmer's Markets) you can get on a pizza.
For a more in-depth review, please continue reading below...
Nestled in the heart of the San Fernando Valley is a pizza place unlike any other. If you drive by it, you'll miss it. The place -- Artizan Pizza Kitchen, where their slogan is, "We care about what you eat."
They mean every word, as they have no GMO's (genetically manufactured organisms), nitrate free, free range and organic poultry/meat, wild seafood, and locally grown ingredients. They buy all of their fruits and vegetables from local Farmer's Markets or Kenter Canyon Farms.
They have been open since Sept. 2010, and it took them a year to open, as they looked to perfect their recipes. General Manager Bob Wood said, "We went through over 300 different dough recipes before we found one that we were happy with." Ria Koch, Artizan's lead chef that creates their pizza sauces, says every sauce she makes, from her sauce for the BBQ Free Range Chicken Pizza, to the Shrimp Scampi Pizza sauce, and the house tomato sauce, all included fresh ingredients, and made fresh off the stove - nothing goes from a can to pizza.
That also includes their dressings, as Artizan's other lead chef, Cesar Ontiveras, develops every one of Artizan's salad dressings from scratch. He added that, "95 percent of all our ingredients are gluten free, and that they [Ria and Cesar] are currently working on a gluten free crust." Ria said they hoped to have one perfected in the next six to twelve months.
After hearing about how Artizan Pizza Kitchen came to be, I was anxious to try the variety their menu had to offer. I started off with the Capreze Salad, which included tomato, fresh basil, mozzarella, and a white balsamic dressing. After the first bite, I could tell the vegetables were fresh, as they were crisp and still had moisture which did not taste store bought. The dressing went well with the salad, and a must try for everyone, including vegetarians.
I went on to their Seared Ahi Salad, which included arugula, mixed greens, red onion, green onion, with a light ginger vinaigrette dressing. The dressing, was great, as there were no overpowering ingredients, which separates it from others. The ahi has a nice smoked flavor from the heat, and the fresh vegetables again was the secret ingredient...
I moved on to their Tomato Basil Soup, and Butternut Squash, and as I tried both soups, I was drawn toward the Butternut Squash, which was nutty, full of flavors, and hearty. As I was there a patron ordered the Butternut Squash and she described the soup as "savory," which to me said it all.
When it came to the pizza, the staff was split as which one was the best seller. The top two in any order were the BBQ Free Range Organic Chicken Pizza, and the Sweet & Spicy Sausage Pizza. The general manager's personal favorite was the Shrimp Scampi Pizza, so to find out which one reigned supreme, I tried all three.
The Sweet & Spicy Sausage Pizza comes with the homemade tomato sauce, along with fresh ingredients added to the mix, and includes Louisiana hot link sausage, roasted bell peppers, and jalapeno. Ria Koch said the merrying of the sausage and jalapenos (the spicy) and the roasted bell peppers (the sweet), is what made for the balance in the pizza. I thought the flavors worked well - you received some sweet and some fire, in each bite, but not too spicy that it took away from the flavor...
The BBQ Chicken Pizza, is one of a kind, and if you've had one before, I think the sauce is key. Again, it was a homemade bbq sauce that you could taste, but was not lathered over the pizza, so that you didn't get the taste of the mozzarella, smoked gouda, red onion, green onion, and cilantro on top. At some places you will find the chicken dried out a bit, but Artizan marinates their chicken tenders before they cook it up. The BEST chicken pizza of any kind I have tried up to date.
Finally I tried the Shrimp Scampi Pizza, which was another unique creation of Artizan. The sauce was a garlic and cream with cheese, and it was topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. After taking a bite from this, I thought there is nothing better then taking a great pasta dish, and making it into a pizza. Every bite was creamy, and again, the fresh ingredients made every bite enjoyable.
Trying to pick the best pizza, is like trying to choose your favorite child, you can't. But I can tell you, depending on what your palette is in the mood for, to just go with it. The salads pair well with the pizza, and if you can't make up your mind, the chef's there are more than willing to help you decide. You can add several drinks not sold at the grocery store, including several brands of ginger beer (I tried the Cock & Bull one), Frostie Root Beer (a blast from the past), Crush Orange Soda, green tea, and more.
The staff is extremely courteous, and while I was there, several repeat customers came in to order. You can dine in or take out, and keep in mind, everything is made fresh, and the stone oven fire will take a little longer to cook your pizza. Their delivery number is (818) 508-8680 and (818) 508-8298. They can get busy quickly, as there was a late rush that had them down to one piece of dough, because everything is made from scratch.
They are located at 11672 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood, and if you blink, you might miss it. They are closed Mondays and open Tues. - Fri. from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and the weekend noon to 11 p.m.
Their slogan is, "We care about what you eat," but after my experience here I think they should change their slogan to "We care about you," as they will go out of their way to make sure you are happy with your food. A truly unique experience, and with California not being known for their pizza, I would put this above our East Coast counterparts...