Formerly the Stone Fire Pizza Company, the minds behind the West Hollywood pizza spot changed its moniker to match their new Oak Gourmet Market in Hollywood. Now we have Oak Fire Pizza, which is still much more in line with the owners' low-key Spanish Kitchen across the street. Like its adjacent Mexican neighbor, the Oak Fire ditches the frills for casual atmosphere, friendly service and solid food.
The interior is dark and homey. An interesting blend of people gather at the bar and in booths, with much of the patrons' attention was pulled towards a handful of big screen TVs. Much like a cozy bar and grille, Oak Fire (and likewise, Spanish Kitchen) is a welcomed juxtaposition on a stretch of La Cienega's 'Restaurant Row' that includes Koi, STK, and Nobu.
We walked into the pizzeria knowing exactly what we wanted - a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. But while we waited the specified forty-five minutes for the deep dish to cook, we picked out a couple starters to munch on. The mozzarella marinara (below, left) was exactly as advertised - like a glorified helping of mozzarella sticks - it was served with a homemade marinara. The cheese was encased in a parmesan crust, fried and nicely seasoned. The pear, pecan and poppyseed salad was nothing to write home about but the restaurant isn't making promises it isn't keeping. The menu is simple and the food is pretty decent, if a little pricey. Besides, we were hardly here for the salad.
It was that Chicago-style pizza we'd had our hearts set on from the get-go. We opted for the meat trio ($25) which was served to us after the forty-five minute wait with no shortage of eager anticipation. I lived in Chicago for nearly five years and miss Chicago-style pizza more than anything else about Illinois. So it goes without saying that I take my Chicago-Style way too seriously. While I've found nothing but disappointment in deep dish and 'stuffed' pizzas found outside of the windy city, I have to say I wasn't completely disappointed by Oak Fire's version. Yes, that's a compliment.
Sure, the crust was a little tough (Angela liked that its dense texture was able to hold up all the cheese, tomato sauce, and toppings), and the slightly acidic chunky tomato sauce could've benefited from a little sugar. Nevertheless, this was a deep dish that even a Chicago-Style snob (that sounds like an oxymoron...) could enjoy - hearty and cheesey.
While we were powering our way through the deep-dish, we took in our surroundings a little more closely. The pub's dining room opens up to the kitchen, where we watched the pizzas come in and out of the huge wood-fire oven (below, left). Oak Fire offers a pretty intense selection of thinner, wood-fired pizzas as well, but for my money it's all about that heaping pile of melty deliciousness in the deep dish. You can't beat it without making a trip to the midwest (and if you do find yourself in Chi-town... Edwardo's Stuffed Pizza will change your life).
We were enough impressed with the deep dish pizza that we opted for the Deep Dish Rocky Road for dessert. This extravagant dessert, layered with cookie dough, pecans and marshmallow, came with an upgraded scoop of ice cream (an extra $1) melting overtop.
Now, chances are that if we hadn't snagged a Living Social coupon to this neighborhood joint, it may have taken us a long while, if ever, to get around to it. And I don't know that I'd stop by solely on the basis of the appetizers or beer selection (although this might be just the spot for future sports-watching). But when I get a craving for deep dish? I know where I can go to scratch the itch.