800 Degrees Pizza assembly line
My pizza creation: artichokes, whole roasted cloves of garlic, Kalamata Olives and Feta cheese on top of mozzarella
Chopped salad: too many hidden garbanzo beans
Eric’s pizza creation: sopressata (spicy salami), sausage, mushrooms and marinated onions
Interior of Milo and Olive
Housemade Pork Belly Sausage with braised greens, tomato, fresh mozzarella
Nettles with rosemary cream, and, mozzarella
Beautiful ranunculus on the table at Milo and Olive
For today’s post I decided to do something different. After being recommended these two particular restaurants a countless amount of times, I wanted to conduct a little experiment pitting the high end pizza of Milo and Olive against the more budget friendly pizza of 800 Degrees to see if there truly was weight to the saying “you get what you pay for.”
800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria on Lindbrook Drive in Westwood
800 Degrees is in the heart of Westwood Village, an absolutely perfect location for the students of UCLA. Evidenced by the line of patient patrons out the door and down the street this restaurant has taken off and achieved a cruising altitude since its grand opening in January, (Note: the line is relatively quick and completely worth the wait). 800 Degrees is the Chipotle of pizza. You choose a base and then decide on toppings for your pizza. The base pizzas start at $5.15 with every additional topping (proteins, cheese and veggies) costing $1.00 each.
The base pizzas aka “the classics” are the Pizza Margherita, the Pizza Bianca and the Pizza Marinara. Since almost every pizza at 800 Degrees is different I can only talk about the constants most notably, the crust. As stated in its name 800 Degrees serves neopolitan style pizzas, where the crust is thin and the pizza is soft and chewy. The thin crust helps to bring out the flavor of your toppings as each bite is not overpowered with bread. All this is achieved in a wood buring oven after only being cooked for about a minute and a half!
All of the toppings offered at 800 Degrees are local when available and extremely high quality. I ordered artichokes, whole roasted garlic, kalamata olives and feta on mine. Check out their menu for a full list of toppings. One tip I should note that came after talking about my dining experience with an experienced 800 Degree’s go-er is, ordering the whole roasted garlic on my pizza was an amateur hour mistake. Apparently, there are several toppings that are complimentary however, you have to specifically ask for them to get them on your pie. They are oregano, chilies and garlic. Regardless, all of the toppings I chose for my pizza created a salty, Greek masterpiece that I thoroughly enjoyed. Each individual pizza is a single serving and while that may seem like a lot for one person, because of the thin crust the pizza isn’t as heavy and starchy as delivery style pizza.
There are other items on the menu in addition to the pizza and they look just as scrumptious. I ordered the chopped salad, not something I would order again though, the garbanzo beans were bitter and a little too abundant in the salad. However, I would definitely order from the burrata bar next time. They offer several ingredients like beets and balsamic, cherry tomatoes and pesto, or caponata (eggplant seasoned with herbs) and pinenuts that you can get with your burrata for only $5.00!
Milo and Olive
Milo and Olive sits on the complete opposite side of the pizza spectrum from 800 Degrees. While this neighborhood bakery and pizzeria also has a line out the door, its prices, ambiance and pizza differ greatly from 800 Degrees.
This high end pizza restaurant resides in a small storefront on Wilshire. With only 14 seats among two communal tables and about 10 others split between the stand up counter and the bar facing the kitchen you have to try your luck to get a spot here. On the menu there are 10 pizza’s to choose from as well as other items such as salad and pasta. For this particular experience I decided to stick with the pizza however, the Fusili Pasta wafting over from the other side of the communal table did look enticing. We ordered the Nettles Pizza, the Housemade Pork Belly Sausage Pizza and the Crispy Pepperoni Pizza. Of which I preferred both the meat pizzas to the nettle.
The Housemade Pork Belly Sausage with braised greens, tomato, and fresh mozzarella was my personal favorite. The pizza was juicy, chewy and flavorful. The sausage was salty and spicy (no sexual innuendo intended) and with the tomato and greens it was easy to fold and eat as one big delicious pizza roll up.
The Crispy Peperroni pizza with tomato, and fresh mozzarella was the table favorite and as a result of enjoying the sausage pizza got to this one a little late in the game. Regrettably only half a slice was left. The peperoni was crispy and spicy and practically covered the entire surface area of the pizza!
Nettles are similar to spinach, only more flavorful; also on the pizza was rosemary cream, and mozzarella. The pizza itself was elementary. It lacked the complex flavor of the other two and the crust was a little too blackened and crispy for me. Initially excited about the rosemary cream on the pizza I could barely taste it. What I did like about this pizza was that it provided a mellow balance to the other two meat pizzas. However, next time I will order the Buratta pizza with La Quercia prosciutto, tomato, arugula, olive oil, sea salt for my “balanced” portion of the meal.
The real difference between 800 Degrees and Milo and Olive lies in the ambiance of the two restaurants. 800 Degrees is large and in charge with the main goal of its interior to accommodate the large volume of customers that shuffle through the many tables. It’s great that you can get a glass of wine with your meal but the tables are so packed in that you might have to worry about hitting the elbows of a sniffly freshman while you drink it. On the other hand, you could tell walking in that Milo and Olive is a gourmet pizza place. The lack of seating was particularly shocking and made me question if their business is primarily delivery. However, the few tables they do have are beautifully decorated with fresh ranunculus and has a nice overall feel.
All in all, both 800 Degrees and Milo and Olive served delightful and original pizza. What I’ve learned from this experience is that it’s kind of difficult to screw up pizza! I would return to both restaurants but can’t get over the fact that I got just as delicious pizza for a fraction of the price at 800 Degrees. The winner of this pizza battle is 800 Degrees! But Two Forks Up for both restaurants.