Go wild? Each person selects their own toppings at PizzaRev. Photo by Richard Foss
At first glance there doesn’t seem to be anything revolutionary about the pizzas at PizzaRev in El Segundo – the crust is still on the bottom and the ingredients on top, rather than vice-versa. What’s novel is the way each is composed – there’s an assembly line at which you supervise the addition of all desired toppings, then watch as it’s popped into the oven. Putting customers in the driver’s seat this way has been catching on with build-you-own-burger places and salad bars, but PizzaRev was one of the first to bring the idea to pizzas. There are over 30 different toppings, so traditionalists may dine alongside those whose idea of a perfect pizza involves chorizo, jalapenos, capers, and pineapple.
If you’re one of those people who freeze when given too many choices, they have a short list of standard pizzas you may select from, and I almost ordered one of them – olive oil, mozzarella, ricotta, and fennel sausage with fennel seeds. It sounded like a good combination, but I asked them to add red onion, black olives, and spinach – the cost was the same either way, a penny short of eight dollars.
My wife ordered her favorite items – anchovies, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, feta, and spinach, all on a bed of red sauce and mozzarella. We walked along the assembly line, occasionally taking advantage of the option to add something impulsively – I liked the look of the crumbled sweet Italian sausage, so asked for that to be added too. Then the pizzas were popped into the oven, and we ordered Caesar salads and beverages, paid, and went to our table.
The salads and my wine arrived quickly – the wine in small screw-top bottles from mass producers, salad in large bowls. When these arrived my wife was playing with the soda machine, a new model that can dispense well over fifty different fountain drinks. This is the Coca-Cola company’s slickest model, a sleek thing co-branded with Pininfarina, usually noted for designing Italian sports cars. She showed considerable restraint by trying a mix of only three things: ginger ale, seltzer water with lemon-lime, and cherry ginger ale. I remember when I was in high school some students would put a dash of everything in the soda fountain in their cups, and that this concoction had various names, all uncomplimentary. Given the variety of options over at the pizza counter, I could imagine a theme developing among local students who might order a 30-item pizza, paired with a 50-item drink.
I banished that horrifying thought to concentrate on my salad, a simple mix of romaine, parmesan, dressing, and croutons. There was nothing unique about it, but it was refreshing and the portion was generous. I do wish they’d reconsider their packaging choices – the dressing and croutons were both in disposable plastic containers and we had plastic utensils despite the fact that we were dining in.
The pizzas arrived, looking like far too much food, but that was deceptive – the thin, cracker-like crust wasn’t too filling and let the ingredients shine. Both of our meals were quite good, particularly my wife’s – I am usually a fan of anchovy only in small doses, but when paired with artichoke heart it’s very fine indeed.
We finished our meal comfortably full, and as such didn’t investigate their dessert pizza, made with dough brushed with cinnamon and butter – the counterman compared it to a big, fresh doughnut. The big, quick, and tasty meal was only $31 for two, and I can envision coming back here when my wife and I both want pizza and can’t agree on toppings. Helping preserve domestic accord may not be revolutionary, but providing variety and value just might be, and we are likely to return.
PizzaRev is at 460 N. Sepulveda Blvd., in El Segundo – open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Parking in rear, wheelchair access good, gluten-free and vegetarian options available. Patio dining, children welcome. (310) 426-6320, with the menu atpizzarev.com.