At Ghisallo the chefs treat pizza dough like a living thing, because well it is.
Their fermented dough is treated with all the care of a small child as the temperature, moisture levels, and kneading are closely monitored to keep the healthy bacteria intact and flavor packing a punch.
“These guys are really geeked out on the process,” said restaurant Co-Owner Bruce Horwitz. “On the flour, on the length of fermentation, on the hydration meaning how much water is in the dough, and they are never ever satisfied… It’s a very old school artisanal way of making pizza.”
This detailed attention to each pizza pie is not easily scalable or replicable, but fortunately that is not what Horwitz or fellow Co-Owner Mark Meyuhas is interested in doing. Located at 1622 Ocean Park Blvd., the duo wanted the restaurant to be a neighborhood joint where students from the nearby John Adams Middle School swing by for a slice after class, neighbors catch up over a bottle of wine, or couples sink into a serving of their indulgent key lime pie.
Since opening in September, they are off to a good start with the dinner offerings proving so popular they just added a lunch service.
“It seems like the locals in the Ocean Park neighborhood are so proud of being locals there, so we immediately felt like they welcomed us and it’s a great feeling,” said Meyuhas. “We already have so many of the locals coming in even multiple times a week.”
At the helm of the wood fired pizza oven is Executive Chef David Rodriguez who designed the range of creative seasonal pizzas, which are served as thin crust Neapolitan style pies. There are also a few New York style pizzas available by the slice that feature a thicker chewier crust.
“Ghisallo’s menu is inspired by many of the incredible culinary experiences I have had both as a child and in my career,” said Rodriguez. “Campesino, one of my favorite pizzas on the menu, uses my grandmother’s quince membrillo recipe. It’s just a small way I can integrate some of my favorite flavors into our pizzas and in this case, pay homage to my family.”
Some favorite pizzas include the Spartacus with pomodoro sauce, fennel sausage, pepperoni, roasted garlic and red onion and the Squash Blossom with squash blossom, nduja sausage, ricotta, basil, mint and fermented honey. Rodriguez also created a range of entrees and pastas which include classic dishes like New York steak and more experimental ones such as squid ink lumache pasta with crab, lemon, basil and pistachio.
Another restaurant highlight is the fact that it shares an interior space with the recently launched and highly popular local bakery Jyan Isaac Bread.
The former Gjusta baker Jyan Isaac reached out to Horwitz and Meyuhas as his farmers market business was taking off and he needed more room to bake. The interior of Ghisallo had adequate cooking space and now the restaurant operates on the east side of the building and the bakery on the west side.
Isaac’s bread is featured across Ghisallo’s menu like in their new lunch sub sandwiches and as the garlic bread bed for the polpette meatballs.
“They’ve had quite a meteoric rise, they’re a super popular bakery. We love having them there, it kind of adds to the whole creative culture of the building,” said Horwitz. “It’s gone from this really quiet corner to lines of people out the door.”
While their pizzas are already very popular, Horwitz and Meyuhas said they would love more residents to come check out their wine program. The menu was designed by the sommelier from the Tasting Kitchen in Venice, which the duo also owns, and features mostly Italian wines chosen to pair well with Ghisallo’s dishes.
They also said to check out the Tuesday dine-in deal where both pizzas and slices are buy one and get a second half off.
Ghisallo is open for dine in and take out from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, and until 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. https://www.ghisallo.la/