800 Degrees pizzeria takes a delectably fresh approach

Don’t let its location fool you — the new pizza joint, 800 Degrees, in Westwood is no foe. The restaurant, which opened its doors to the public on Jan. 3, serves certified Neapolitan pizza cooked in wood burning ovens.

And when they say “certified,” they mean it. There are specific standards that must be upheld for Neapolitan pizzas, which is an achievement this restaurant prides itself on.

Delectable fix · Fresh ingredients and affordable prices make for the perfect new pizzeria for college students to try. - Photo courtesy of 800 Degrees

Founded by Umami Burger creator Adam Fleischman and partner Allen Ravert, and headed by chef Anthony Carron, 800 Degrees is already developing new locations for the franchise. Fleischman is certainly no stranger to entrepreneurship, and it seems this pizza joint could become the next big thing.

With the restaurant’s simple set-up, customers line up at a long pizza bar and order their pie of choice. The possibilities are endless. Customers can order restaurant-designed pizzas ranging from the classic Margherita pizza to specialty pies, such as the Prosciutto and the Capricciosa — made with artichokes, mushrooms, olives and ham.

If 800 Degrees’ combinations don’t appeal, customers can create their own pizza, customizing toppings fit for their specific tastes. And instead of the typical, run-of-the-mill toppings, 800 Degrees offers unique, delicious options, such as smoked provolone cheese, rosemary ham and caramelized onions.

This variety and quality is the essence of 800 Degrees. The restaurant takes simple food that is accessible to the masses and elevates it to a true gourmet eating experience. The restaurant uses the best ingredients — from locally made fresh mozzarella to handcrafted crusts to fresh tomato sauce — and it shows. This attention to detail is what makes the otherwise simple food seriously impressive.

The Margherita pizza, made with homemade tomato sauce, large chunks of fresh mozzarella and leaves of basil served atop a chewy, charred crust, is considered one of the signatures at 800 Degrees. The pizza shows off a rustic elegance in its simplicity. It is distinctly un-American in its sparseness, and it’s not drenched in greasy processed cheese, which might turn away some diners. Regardless, the pizza is undeniably good.

The Prosciutto pizza, topped with fresh mozzarella, garlic, prosciutto and wild arugula, is another standout dish. The dough has a robust but not overpowering garlic flavor, and the chunks of rich, gooey mozzarella complement the peppery kick of the arugula and the salt of the prosciutto.

800 Degrees also offers salads, such as the Gorgonzola salad, which comes with dried cranberries and walnuts — a flavorful, light companion to any pizza. As if that was not enough, they also offer gelato from L.A. Creamery Artisan Ice Cream, as well as a selection of 109 — that’s right, 109 — different beverages from their automated, Ferrari-designed soda machine.

On top of the delicious food, 800 Degrees’ atmosphere is the perfect hybrid of modern and homey. The restaurant is outfitted with black and white tile walls, high ceilings, brown booths and tables in the dining area, giving the interior a clean, cozy look.

The lines move quickly thanks to the fast-cooking wood burning oven, which delivers pizza promptly.

The best part about 800 Degrees? It’s insanely reasonable prices: Pizzas start at $5. The price goes up with more complex pies, but even the most decked-out, expensive pizza is only $11.

There’s not much to dislike about the restaurant. 800 Degrees is an energetic place, comfortable yet sleek, and best of all, there is fantastic food for  the economically savvy prices.

All in all, 800 Degrees is a very hot — pun intended — restaurant.