Recently, I visited two pizza places for tastings within mere weeks of each other: 800 Degrees Pizza at its original location in Westwood and Prime Pizza on Fairfax. Now here’s the thing about me and pizza: I’m from New York City, home to some of the most iconic pizza in the world (outside of Italy, of course). I grew up scrutinizing and analyzing slices with my parents, who have impossibly high pizza standards — and food standards in general. I also went to college right by Ben’s Pizzeria, which you know from the Louie opening credits.
So, clearly pizza has a piece of my heart — or pizza my heart, if you wanna be all punny. For a different kind of review post, I figured why not do a PIZZA SHOWDOWN! They’re not rivals or anything. I just wanted to do a comparison between two places that well-represent the types of pizza joints you’ll find in Los Angeles: The trendy build-your-own personal pizza spot (a trend that 800 Degrees began) and the NYC-style pizzeria that lets you buy by the slice, in addition to a whole pie. The styles are distinctly different, but both are very delicious, because PIZZA!
Also, if you ever wondered what these tastings look like, behold:
Yeah, that’s a lot of pizza.
Now, on with the showdown!
800 Degrees has a softer and deliciously doughy crust. It’s not the type of crust you can fold to eat New York-style, but it’s more like having a happy breadstick on the end of the pizza. The menu says it “requires a fork and knife.” Truth.
Into folding your slices while you’re on the go, like a busy New Yorker? Prime Pizza’s crust is reminiscent of NYC
You want it? 800 Degrees will probably have it in their extensive catalog of toppings. According to LA Weekly, the pizza chain boasts 53 toppings in all and 53,148 possible topping combinations. That includes chicken, roasted corn, arugula, whole roasted garlic, artichoke, butternut squash, caramelized onions, and many more.
Prime Pizza keeps it simple and classic with these options: Pepperoni, white, sausage, and BBQ chicken. They also have some pretty cool full pie varieties: Arrabiata (spicy!), veggie, and sausage-kale.
You can go with marinara, Margherita, verde (pesto), or bianca as your base. It’s good to have options. My favorite is the tasty verde.
Prime sticks with its tomato sauce in most of its pies and for good reason — it’s delicious.
These pies are on the personal-sized side. If you’re super hungry, it’s enough for one person and for you to tell whoever you’re with to get their own.
All pies are 20-inches and that’s around the size of a good ol’ NYC pie. Also, definitely a lot for one person, so this is one you’ll share.
Non-Pizza Menu Items
800 Degrees has a good variety of non-pizza items, like prosciutto and melon, caesar and greek salads, and an incredible truffle cheese bread. I absolutely LOVE their anipasti platter, which is sadly no longer on the menu, but this time around I asked for it and they made it, so maybe you can, too? Let’s bring it back!
But then again, how can you go wrong with three classics: Garlic knots, salad and wings at Prime? The wings have just the right amount of kick and the garlic knots are doughy and garlic-y goodness.
In The Media
As for 800 Degrees, they got quite a bit of media attention for their crazy awesome Instagram promotion, in which every day there’s a new topping combo posted on their IG account and you can get that whole pie for 50% that day. Which means you can actually get a whole entire pizza for $4-5, if you can brave the line. It’s the reason I started going to 800 Degrees.
Prime Pizza has actually been prominently featured in a sketch on the Late Show With James Corden called “Mystery Pizza Box.” In Corden’s words, “people can either take the pizza that they’ve ordered or they can open the mystery box, which may contain a prize better or worse than the pizza.”
If you love pizza possibilities, 800 Degrees. If you’re looking for a slice of New York, Prime Pizza.
As for me personally, 800 Degrees is my favorite place to get pizza, so that’s my choice. What’s yours? Vote below!
Photos by Eric Shin