Author: Aralyn Beaumont
When it comes to pizza, there are three components that need to fundamentally excel as they melt together into one harmonious layer. The crust should have a crisp bite and a bready chew. The sauce needs to be packed full of fresh flavors. There is a delicate balance with cheese that is hard to reach, and greasy un-congealed globs are indicators of cheese gone wrong.
Once the three rudimentary basics are in place, pizza making can become a complex and delicate game. Because when it comes down to it, pizza is really all about the toppings, and what one chooses to put on top of his/her pizza says a lot about her character.
Given the intricate decision making that goes into choosing a pizza, I’m not surprised that pizza restaurants are following the customizable sandwich models of Subway and Which Wich, allowing their customers to choose toppings from a bar sprawled out before their eyes or sundry items on a menu.
Less than a year ago 800 Degrees started this trend with its unending counter of white marble, pizza dough and colorful toppings. A long line constantly files out of the Westwood restaurant, but it moves pretty quickly, allowing customers just enough time to choose from 35 toppings.
I’m terrible at making decisions, so I’m always scrambling until the last moment when I finally lock eyes with my line cook and tell him, “I’ll have a margherita with. . .” Mushrooms? Pepperoni or go the extra two bucks for prosciutto? But what, meatballs? Caramelized or red onions? Extra cheese? Which cheese?
Hopefully my order is never as frazzled as my thoughts, but I can say that the end result has always been delicious and perfectly catered to my taste buds. From the margherita with pepperoni, caramelized onions, and gorgonzola I first ordered to the margherita with meatballs, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions I most recently ordered, I have had my best pizza experiences at 800.
And then came Clusi Batusi, the latest place to join the customizable pizza trend. The restaurant is toned down in comparison to 800 Degrees as its space and menu is much smaller than 800’s. Even though 800 has a more elegant venue with an enticing display of toppings and interactions with cooks, Clusi Batusi meets 800 at its flavor.
800 provides more authentic margherita as its base with thick chunks of mozzarella, but the crusts and sauces at both restaurants are pretty on par. The balsamic mushrooms are another great topping that is unique to Clusi.
Both restaurants offer customizable pizzas. One has more ambiance than the other. They cost about the same. And both reside on the Westside. To choose from one or the other boils down to convenience and experience. And 800 Degrees is about to get more convenient as the owners project to open eight more locations over the next year.
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