Since the beginning of civilization, humans have learned that trading/bartering benefit both sides of the transaction. What one person may find useless, another person may find value in. By trading, humans share information and carry it with them as they part ways. This leads to the spread of culture around the world, creating melting pots in populated countries. In many countries, people of varying nationalities reside in harmony, with little care about a person’s ethnicity anymore. Upon further inspection, people everywhere love to eat good food, regardless of where it originated. Cuisine from around the world has traveled around the world thanks to visionary chefs who carry the culinary knowledge back to their homes. We can now enjoy food from different cultures and not have to worry about the origins. For example, whether you like pizza from one area versus another, we can all agree that we love pizza. If you find yourself in the greater Los Angeles area, check out these five pizzas that you ought to seek out. The variety of these may not sit well with purists, but I assure you that any pizza fan will enjoy them all without fuss.

5. The Pizza Studio‘s Island Pizza

A former university instructor of mine once said, “Liberal Arts majors cry, while Business majors make money off of them.” Basically, an actor (or person with some other talent) cannot do anything without the right business agent to discover opportunities. If the talent cannot find the right business person to team up with, the talent must manage their own business, taking up time away from their work. A lack of time for personal care due to a full focus on work creates the image of the starving artist, a concept that The Pizza Studio recognizes all too well. The Pizza Studio exists to cater to YOUR needs. This small pizza shop in Los Angeles allows customers to build their own custom personal-size pizza with any and all toppings available. Customers choose the dough (gluten-free available), sauce, cheeses, veggies, meats, and spices, all for $7.99 each. However, if customizing a personal pizza requires too much thought, The Pizza Studio offers their Starving Artists menu, a selection of five pizzas with pre-selected toppings, each for only $5.99. One of these pizzas, the Island Pizza, contains Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Caramelized Onion, Crispy Bacon, Pineapple, and Basil on traditional dough. Can you believe you get this many toppings for just $5.99?! Check out their website for a full list of the delicious toppings that The Pizza Studio offers. Once you make up your mind, preorder your pizza on your phone – they have a mobile website just for ordering.

4. TJ’s Woodfire Pizza‘s Gianelli

Cheers to technology advancements – without them, we would not have the plethora of amazing machines and gadgets that exist today. 2014 means that society should have inventions that can do almost anything, such as an entirely portable brick oven for firing pizzas in. Sounds preposterous, but it appears that TJ’s Woodfire Pizza made that idea come true. This gourmet food truck roams Orange County, firing up authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas for their hungry fans and customers. Their menu contains nothing too crazy or unique – they stick with traditional combinations that their customers love, such as the Gianelli. This premium pizza gets topped with burrata cheese, fennel pollen, garlic oil base, Italian sausage, truffle oil, and basil. All combined, each flavor stands out on its own, with no single ingredient overpowering another. I thank the truffle oil for bringing out the best of this pizza – the pungency of the truffle oil helps to highlight everything else going on with this pizza. Once you track down TJ’s Woodfire Pizza, order up the Gianelli for $17. If the price hurts your wallet, check out the rest of their menu, as you cannot go wrong with TJ’s.

3. Michael’s Pizzeria‘s Anatra e Provola

Americans do it with their hands. Italians do it with a knife and fork. Who would expect that a country that derived from England would develop eating habits that would disgust the eastern world? While America continues to come up with ridiculous things like Mountain Dew Cheetos or a burrito vending machine, Italians will keep things classy and tasty by devising amazing eats. If you want authentic Italian pizza, you have to travel to Italy, no questions asked. However, if you want the next closest thing, look no further than Michael’s Pizzeria. With locations in Long Beach and Rancho Mirage, Michael’s Pizzeria abides by Italian standards with their Neapolitan-style pizzas. Along with the finest ingredients both local and imported, Michael’s serves you an uncut pizza. This prevents the sauces and juices from seeping through the cuts and making the crust soggy. This also preserves the toppings by keeping them fresher than after slicing. If you order the Anatra e Provolo, you will understand. This pizza comes with tomatoes, shredded duck confit, smoked mozzarella, and caramelized onions. The resulting duck confit means that the duck fat spreads through the cheese and sauce, allowing the duck fat to cover a majority of the surface of this pizza. For that, you would not want any of it to seep down to the bottom of the pizza – you want it all on top to preserve the flavor. Does that mean you have to eat fast? Not necessarily – as long as you can eat it all in one sitting, you will receive the full enjoyment than if you took some to-go. Depending on when you go to Michael’s, you may see a variant of this pizza where they use kale instead of onions. We all love kale, right?! All Michael’s locations carry this pizza for $17. If the price scares your bank account, enjoy any of the rest of their menu. With quality this high, this pizza will surely please.

2. Domenico’s Restaurant‘s Ground Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza

New year’s resolutions? Who honestly sticks to a resolution for long enough to matter? To the few persistent souls out there that actually abide by their resolutions for a long term, godspeed to you. To everyone else, give up the charade and resume your normal life. Remember to indulge once in a while too, as a little variety and excitement makes for a healthier lifestyle overall. When you see what Domenico’s Restaurant can do, you may want to indulge yourself more often. This historic restaurant in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach mainly serves traditional American-Italian cuisine in a family-friendly setting. The menu contains the American-Italian staples that many will recognize: Chicken Parmigiana, Eggplant Parmesan, and lots of pasta. They also list varieties of pizza that many may overlook, but carefully analyzing the pizza menu will reveal this manly combination: the Ground Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza. With minimal sauce and cheese, Domenico’s slathers this pizza with mounds of ground sausage and ground pepperoni to create this ultimate meaty salty explosion of a slice. I hope your heart can handle this cholesterol and sodium attack, because after one bite, you will forever want more until your heart can take no more. I strongly suggest splitting this with family and/or friends, because at about $23 for a large, indulging on this too often will leave you unable to afford anymore. As an unnamed politician once said, “Have a good time… but not TOO good.”

1. Hollywood Pies‘ Sausage ala Zweig

In today’s world, people love seeing “food wars” on the mainstream media. Food wars like vanilla vs chocolate, coffee vs tea, Coke vs Pepsi, shaken vs stirred, Texas BBQ vs Memphis BBQ, and so on have existed for ages. Perhaps the one food battle that rages across the minds of Americans across the country involves Chicago versus New York. People everywhere hear it all the time – do you like Chicago pizza or New York pizza more? When it comes down to it, the styles bear so many differences that comparing apples to oranges makes a lot more sense. A majority of pizza found nowadays resemble New York pizza due to the ease of baking them, as opposed to Chicago’s deep dish pizzas. Finding the right Chicago-style pizza outside of Chicago may prove challenging, but Hollywood Pies would like to alleviate that challenge. As one of the few places in Southern California baking up Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, Hollywood Pies has carved a name for themselves in a city largely dominated by New York pizzas. Chains like Pizza Hut may offer “deep dish” pizza, which sadly has nothing to do with Chicago-style deep dish. These Hollywood Pies stand over an inch tall and weigh so much that you almost need a plate and utensils to eat it. This size allows for more toppings to fill the inside, almost resembling actual pies. If you order the Sausage ala Zweig, prepare to get messy. Arranged reversely from normal pizzas, whole milk mozzarella covers the bottom of the deep dish dough. Then, a layer of ground mild Italian sausage covers the entire surface of the pie before receiving a layer of zesty chunky tomato sauce. Just for kicks, they dust grated imported Pecorino Romano cheese on top. If you eat it at the right angle, all the toppings stay neatly on top and do not fall. However, after one bite, you may start to eat faster and forgo holding it upright, creating a mess all over your face and lap. A small costs $16, while a large costs $27. Plan to order one? Keep in mind that each pie takes at least 45 minutes to bake. I suggest saving their phone number, because calling ahead of time to place an order will save you time as you prepare to take down this behemoth.

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