Nearly 3000 miles from New York City, Lupetti Pizzeria promises customers “Authentic Brooklyn Style Pizza In Downtown Los Angeles.” The comparison is more or less moot — foodies could debate the subtle differences between inter-borough pizza recipes and techniques for decades. A much more important question than authenticity is whether or not the food is worth eating. Fortunately, the pizza at Lupetti is very, very good — with an atmosphere and extras that are even better.
Walking down 4th Street, you’ll find a simple brick structure, painted with vivid gradients of red, orange, and purple that lend it an Instagram-friendly shimmer. A neon sign promising PIZZA is positioned to catch the eyes of potential diners — especially those stumbling back from a round or two or three at one of the many nearby breweries. Out front, several long wooden tables fill a lightly-trellised courtyard, framed by greenery and lit by dangling bulbs. A slightly-raised counter on one side gives solo diners the chance to lounge al fresco as well. This outdoor dining area is a warm, inviting oasis that compliments (but is also set apart from) the rough-hewn glamor that characterizes the Arts District.
Through the doors, the minimalist interior is sparse and spacious; idiosyncratically decorated with shelves of canned tomatoes. A glass display case tantalizes with artfully arranged slices of pizza, while more go into the oven across the open kitchen. Both booth and counter seating is available if the weather outside turns less-than-ideal.
All of which brings us to the food itself. Pizzas here tend towards the traditional; even their most eccentric offerings pale creatively compared to LA’s many offbeat offerings. But inventiveness isn’t the point. Lupetti does simple pizzas well, with crisp crusts, fresh, flavorful toppings, and a fulfillingly greasy finish. The Smokey Pazzo is a particular standout, with its tangy caramelized onions and speck.
Beyond the pies, Lupetti continues to shine with a hearty array of other offerings that are more than worth a bite. The eggplant and chicken parmesans are both terrific, whether they’re served on a plate or a massive, intimidatingly crusty-crunchy roll. Beer/cocktail options are both diverse and affordable; the frozen mezcal margarita makes an especially excellent compliment to a hot slice on a warm summer night.
There are few better ends to an evening out in DTLA than Lupetti. Its simplicity and retro-chic charm are the ideal antidote to hopping between noisy bars, with a pleasant, casual staff serving pleasant, casual food. And for all those seeking more than a beer and a slice, one knock is all it takes to access Japanese-style ‘listening bar’ In Sheep’s Clothing, which shares Lupetti’s entrance.