Monday, March 4, 2024

The Long Beach pizzerias reppin’ the city for L.A.’s massive Pizza City Fest

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Five Long Beach pizzerias—Speak Cheezy, La Parolaccia, Nonna Mercato, L’Antica da Michele, and Little Coyote—will be reppin’ Long Beach at this year’s second annual Pizza City Fest, the region’s largest festival dedicated to the mighty pie.

“I’ve been a fan of the pizza scene in Long Beach for some time, and I’m excited to have several beloved spots back for the second year,” said Steve Dolinsky, the Chicago pizza king and 13-time James Beard award winner who heads both the Chicago and Los Angeles versions of the festival (and now Nashville this year). I’m also excited to see Michael Pracaccini’s pizza from La Parolaccia in the Collab Lab on Saturday. He’s getting married that week, but he also insisted on being there!”

Long Beach expands representation at Pizza City Fest (with the exception of one sad loss)

Last year’s representatives—Long Beach Beer Lab, Nonna Mercato (doing dessert, not pizza), Speak Cheezy, and Little Coyote—all did spectacular, with Speak Cheezy garnering an almost instantaneous hit with not only a massive line but people collecting their pizza boxes.

“Thrilled to be back at Pizza City Fest slinging our sourdough pies and repping the LBC pizza scene,” Chef Jason Winters of Speak Cheezy said. “This festival showcases a really beautiful array of representation across the region.”

Longtime Long Beach favorite with unquestionably some of the best pizza in the city, La Parolaccia and its master pizzaiolo Chef Michael Procaccini, will be participating for the first time.

“I’m also excited to see Michael Procaccini’s pizza from La Parolaccia in the Collab Lab on Saturday,” Dolinsky said. “He’s getting married that week, but he also insisted on being there”—something he told me as well so expect many Romanos invading both Long Beach and L.A. in celebration.

Chef Cameron Slaugh’s Nonna Mercato will be returning to the festival but doing pizza for the first time, skipping the dessert table it offered last year.

“I originally came to L.A. to put a lot of my focus as a chef on wood burning pizzas back in 2014, then through that adventure I became obsessed with pasta,” Slaugh said. “A beautifully cooked pizza with fire is just such an amazing thing—the smells, flavors, the concentration of the high heat and flavor of the dough… Since Pizza Fest is going to be in April, I want to focus on some of my favorite ingredients of that month and season.”

Dolinsky shares his passion: “One of the things I’m most excited about this year is happening on Sunday, April 28: That’s when Cameron Slaugh shows off his Roman style pie. Last year, he brought one of the best desserts all weekend—which is no surprise considering how great that bakery is. When I asked him if he’d like to return in that capacity, he said he’d only come back if he could do a pizza, so who am I to argue?”

Sadly, Long Beach Beer Lab will not be repping this year, with co-owner Harmony Fried being very kosher with it: “It’s Passover: No bread for me.”

Pizza City Fest is the pizza festival of dreams that honors the region’s underrated scene

There is no question that Dolinsky and his crew have put on a spectacular event: Los Angeles’s Pizza City Fest was a nearly perfect representation of what the region’s pizza scene is, how it is worthy of celebration, and how organizers can create an event that is worthy of attending.

Unlimited alcohol—including a full bar—along with dessert vendors, guests had a tasting card that was stamped as they explored the massive space (with VIP guests having access to special eats, like Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s private tent at the 2023 event).

The event was easily accessible, beautifully branded, and even thought-provoking: From deep discussions about what, exactly, defines “L.A. pizza” to meeting the crew behind Netflix’s “Chef’s Table: Pizza,” panel discussions were beautifully region-centric while also being more global. (Home cooks even had shout-outs with presentations showing how to make the perfect pan pizza at home.)

For more information on Pizza City Fest in Los Angeles, taking place on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 29, click here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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