Thursday, September 3, 2015

Masa of Echo Park

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. I gave her several suggestions about things we could do to celebrate, but she just wanted pizza. Originally, she wanted Pizza Hut, but when I told her about Masa, the Chicago-style pizza place in Echo Park that I heard about, she wanted to go there instead. I’m so glad we did.

Most of my life revolves around my baby’s schedule, so we left the valley and headed to Echo Park around 1:30pm, after my son’s nap. By “we” I mean me, my mom, my husband and our 1-year old son. Traffic was light, and Masa was easy to find. We got a metered spot on the street right next to the restaurant and headed inside.

We were greeted at the door. The place was pretty empty except for a couple families. We were given a table right by the window. Our waiter asked if we’d eaten there before, and when we said “no,” he told us that they specialize in Chicago-style pizza and that it takes 40-45 minutes to prepare the pizza. I had read that online, so we were prepared. We took a minute or two to look at the deep dish pizza options and decided to order a large Lots of Meat pizza which is described on the menu as “Masa's Secret Recipe Sweet Italian Sausage & Pepperoni...lots of it.” Our waiter placed our order right away.

We kept our menus to think about an appetizer or something to eat while were waiting. The waiter had already brought out a loaf of bread, which was round and perfectly soft. My son was eagerly munching on pieces of that while we looked at the menus.

Our waiter came back, and when we said we were thinking about ordering dessert as an appetizer, he said that a lot of people order the bread pudding to eat before their pizza arrives. The bread pudding is their specialty. It’s actually called “Warm Croissant Bread Pudding," and it’s described on the menu as "Masa's Signature dessert: chocolate, almond & butter croissants, pan baked in a vanilla custard & drizzled with warm caramel sauce.”

We ended up ordering three desserts. Bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts, so we had to order that. Crème Brulee is my husband’s favorite dessert, so we had to try the Chocolate Silk Crème Brulee which is described on the menu as “Silky, creamy, chocolate custard.” And, since it was my mom’s birthday, she obviously had to pick a dessert. She wanted to try the Classic Cannoli Italiano, which is described on the menu as “Crispy Italian pastry with a chocolate chip ricotta filling.” Basically, we tried every dessert except the carrot cake; we’ll have to try that next time.

The waiter brought out the desserts with a candle in the bread pudding since it was my mom’s birthday. That was sweet of him since we’d only mentioned her birthday in passing. She made a wish, and we all tasted all of the desserts. The bread pudding was my favorite. I mean, just read the description above. What’s not to like? It seemed less like bread pudding and more like the best French toast casserole I’d ever had. I mean that as a compliment. No complaints. My mom usually doesn’t like bread pudding, and she loved it too. I gave my son a few pieces of it, and he eagerly gobbled it up, a huge grin on his face.

The crème brulee was good, but I’m not a huge crème brulee fan. My husband isn’t a huge dark chocolate fan, so since it was dark chocolate crème brulee, it wasn’t his favorite. I think he preferred the bread pudding too.

The cannoli looked small compared to the bread pudding, but I think it was just that the bread pudding was massive. My mom liked it, but she said she wished the filling were a little thicker and the pastry weren’t quite as hard. I mean, obviously you want the pastry to be crisp, but it was kind of difficult to cut it with your fork. I thought the taste was great though. I broke off a little piece for my son. He looked hesitant to taste it at first, but after he did, he got an expression on his face that indicated delight. I think the cannoli was his favorite dessert.

We didn’t mind the wait for the pizza. I admired the décor. I love that the chairs are mismatched, and after seeing their vinyl tablecloths, I want to go out and get one for my house; it reminds me of my grandma’s house. Even the bathrooms were cute and eclectic. They were one-person bathrooms, but they were very clean. They even had the Hawaiian Breeze scented air freshener that I buy for my own house.

My son sat in a high chair that faced a TV screen that was playing an old black and white movie. He loved watching the movie, and he loved the big band music that was playing. He bopped along to the music and waved his arms like a conductor. I’ve never seen a happier baby than he was while waving his arms, a piece of buttered bread in one hand and a piece of bread pudding in the other. (I realize this is not health food, and I do not feed my son like this on a regular basis. He loves fruit and vegetables, but every once in awhile, you just have to splurge. Just sayin.’)

The waiter set up a small table next to our table for the pizza. It was ten huge pieces of thick, juicy deliciousness! I took a quick picture before the waiter served us. I broke off a couple little pieces of pepperoni and crust with a little cheese for my son. Then I dug in. 

In case you’ve never had Chicago-style pizza before, this is definitely pizza that you eat with a fork, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I hadn’t had real Chicago pizza in probably 20 years. (Wow, I feel old.) I grew up in Ohio, and Chicago style is real pizza to me. It’d been way too long. I loved the thick yet crunchy yet soft crust. I loved the thick, oozing, gooey cheese. I loved the mounds of chunky tomato sauce. I loved the pepperoni. 

The sausage was on top in a layer. It wasn’t my favorite. We all agreed that next time we’d get the pizza without sausage, but that’s just personal preference. Believe me, there will be a next time. 

Especially after polishing off three desserts, one piece each was all we could handle. We got a box for the rest.

Our waiter told us that in the future, if we want, we can call ahead, and they can start on our pizza before we arrive. That way we don’t have to wait so long. The only exception is when they’re really crowded. In that case, if they started our pizza before we got there, and if there weren’t a table ready for us when we arrived, our pizza would just get cold sitting in the back. The call ahead option is great to know about, but we really didn’t mind the wait. I mean, we needed time to eat our desserts!

As we drove away, we noticed that we were walking distance from the park that is Echo Park. There’s a beautiful lake with an island in the middle of it. There’s a nice playground, and there are boat rentals. There’s also a walking path around the lake. Next time, I plan to drive to Masa, place my pizza order, and then go for a walk around the lake while the pizza’s baking. Maybe then I’ll be hungry enough to enjoy two pieces!

By the way, the pizza is every bit as good reheated or even cold. We started with 7 leftover pieces, and we’re already down to 3. I don’t think the pizza will survive the rest of the day. Yum!

Happy eating!

No comments:

Post a Comment