Cheap Eats: Johnnie's Pizza
If you have ever traveled to New York then you are most likely familiar with their world-renowned pizza. Dripping strings of mozzarella, fresh sauce, and the secret family recipe for the perfect dough are all components of NY pizza that most cannot imagine finding anywhere outside of Brooklyn.
If you are an LA food aficionado and just looking for a slice that lives up to that New York pizza in your own backyard, then there's no pizzeria better than Johnnies.
From the street Johnnie's looks identical to any other pizza joint in LA,but once I saw the traditional checkered tablecloths and heard Italian music playing in the background, I felt a sudden wind of change and looked forward to what authentic menu items Johnnie's could rustle up.
Like usual, I was in the mood for something cheesy and covered with an overwhelming amount of garlic.
Thankfully Johnnie's complimentary pre-meal table snacks went beyond the typical chewy sourdough bread slices with olive oil and vinegar dip. They supply each table with steaming hot garlic knots that satisfied to the point of me asking for another basket of six for just $2.
Words cannot begin to describe how those garlic bits of dough elated my taste buds. I ate them as if I were eating skittles, putting one by one into my mouth casually, in an attempt to eat all of them before any of my friends could get their paws on them.
I may be overstressing the greatness of these doughy rolls but the experience of biting into each tiny round made me wish that I could have a small box full of them resembling those bubble-gum packs where one side it says "share" and the other "not to share," (indeed, I would uncontrollably devour all of the knots from each side without even considering the option of sharing).
Since I knew I had to eat more than Johnnie's gratuitous garlic knots, I ordered a variety of their heavenly carb-loaded items. As an appetizer and starter, I selected their delectable linguini with sun-dried tomato cream sauce and a large Caesar salad big enough to feed five people, respectively.
The Caesar salad was unoriginal and was lacking in dressing, but the linguini made up for it in every way. It was freshly cooked and packed with loads of creamy tomato flavors that burst in your mouth with every bite.
And even if you are not a big fan of sun dried tomatoes, this will convert you into an addict, or at least that is what did it for Johnnie's dedicated employee, Nicolai Kolesa.
"I've worked here for seven months and a week doesn't go where I don't eat the linguini or my favorite pizza combination of sausage and pepperoni."
Kolesa also mentioned that he was an SMC student and that working at Johnnies provides him with a stress free environment from school studies which gives him a sense of fulfillment where he finds himself "sitting down and talking with customers as if they've been friends forever."
I sensed the same feeling not only due to the amazing quick and friendly service, but also because of the Italian family atmosphere that is only found in LA at Johnnie's.
Aside from the notable quality of cleanliness and service that Johnnie's provides, the variety of pastas, pizzas, calzones, and salads are simply sensational. Their pizza toppings range from classic cheese to any kind of meat such as BBQ chicken, meatballs, and sausage and if that's not enough, then their pastas won't disappoint.
Their traditional spaghetti and meatball pasta is only $7, and their lip-smacking fettuccini Alfredo with pasta ribbons and fresh cream is just $9. These prices are worth their generous portions and free beverage refills.
As I finished off my two huge slices of pizza that comprised of buttery ricotta cheese and extra mushrooms, I could not even take another sip of my Coke. The closer my jeans were to having the button pop off, the more satisfied I realized I was. It was as if I had just eaten my fourth plate at Thanksgiving dinner and I was ready to pass out, a predictable outcome of heartwarming Italian food.
For a large pizza, salad, huge plate of linguini, more than a dozen garlic knots, and non-stop refills of Coke for three people, the bill was just $35. This is an incomparable price to other Italian restaurants that would normally charge $35 just for the linguini!
For cheap prices, fast and friendly service, and an uplifting atmosphere, Johnnie's ultimately surpasses any Italian restaurant I have been to, including the infamous New York pizzerias. So, I happily kissed my fingers in the air like a genuine Italian, told Nicolai that I'd be back for more, and walked out yelling "delizioso."