If there's one city where you can go from being a delivery guy at Big Mama's and Papa's, to handing Ellen DeGeneres boxes of pizza on stage at the Oscars, to using that moment as a launchpad for your very own pizza shop—well, that city is LA. For Edgar Martirosyan, owner of WOOD Handcrafted Pizza in Silver Lake, he's doing just that: slingin' Neopolitan-style pies alongside brother (and co-owner) Erik, livin' the dream.
To thank the woman who helped spawn that dream, WOOD has named one of its vegan options The Ellen. Is it a happy coincidence that this is the best pie on the menu? It could have been a recipe for disaster: vegan cheese (which, I'm sorry, does not register to a non-vegan as a legitimate substitute) and a smorgasbord of 12 ingredients, from grape tomatoes to serrano peppers to beans. But it works in so many ways. Bites of crunchy red cabbage mix with smooth avocado chunks, and a sweet balsamic glaze is drizzled over the mish-mash of vegetables and legumes so that you don't even miss the absence of tomato sauce. One slice of this pizza and suddenly veganism doesn''t seem like such a daunting compromise.
In addition to the vegan options, there are also two columns listing pizza rosse and pizza blanche. A thin and subtly sweet tomato sauce coats the rosse variety, allowing other ingredients take over: on the proscuitto di parma, ribbons of smoky ham and arugula are piled onto the dough along with thick cuts of parmesan. It's pretty damn heavenly. Among the blanche options, vegetables are prominently featured—one pie packed with famers market mushrooms, another loaded up with cauliflower. A baby zucchini and patty pan squash pizza seemed promising, but the best part was actually the dollops of burrata plopped on top; in all other aspects, it lacked the rich flavor so well-executed in the other pies.
There are sides and salads, too, but the only one that really matters is the crispy Brussels sprouts, a restaurant staple so overdone that we would have passed it up, save for the near-pleading of our waitress to order it. "It's incredible," she said, and she was right. Tossed in pomegranate molasses, the caramelized vegetable elicited an "Oh my god" around the table before we all agreed that this just might be the best plate of Brussels sprouts we've ever eaten. There are no desserts at WOOD yet, but these sprouts more than make up for it.
What to Eat: The Ellen ($21). The proscuitto di parma and smoked mozzarella ($16). The crispy Brussel sprouts ($7).
What to Drink: WOOD is still working on its beer and wine license, but you can be sure that they'll focus on Italian staples once they have it. For now, grab a can of San Pellegrino ($3)—the Aranciata Rossa flavor serves as a delightfully fizzy accompaniment to your meal.
Where to Sit: After ordering at the register, walk straight through the indoor seating and head to the patio. Yes, the traffic on Sunset Boulevard can be a bit loud, but this is also prime Silver Lake people watching.
Conversation Piece: He may have been stiffed at the Oscars, but Ellen ended up giving Martirosyan a cool $1,000 tip for his on-stage delivery.