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Milo & Olive's Zoe Nathan Goes Rogue with Pizza

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Bite into a pizza, any pizza, at Milo & Olive, and listen. This is the only pizza in Los Angeles that responds with a loud crunch. Shards of olive-oily crust flake off in the midst of mastication. Immediately afterward, notice the extremely pungent sauce and then, the tender cheese. Milo & Olive's pizza is like no other. It is incomparable to New York pizza or Neapolitan pizza or flatbread because it's in a category of its own. With a touch of honey and plenty of olive oil in the dough, a meaty sauce and a sweet, milky cheese, this might be the new, quintessentially Californian pizza. (Sorry, Wolfgang.)

"Even before I started working here, Marge and I loved Zoe's pizza. I still bring it home sometimes," says Walter Manzke, who's filling in during a transition period for the small restaurant group, and having a great time. "I really love this place, I love what they're doing here," he says, a broad smile on his face.

Nathan herself wasn't available when Eater stopped by to make some pie in the large, open Milo & Olive kitchen. Instead, Sam Pepper, a long time Sous Chef at Rustic Canyon and the guy that's pretty much running Milo & Olive now, showed us around.

M&O keeps its oven at 600 degrees, lower than most. The dough contains Sperry organic flour, a bit of whole wheat flour, honey, a sponge (a type of starter), salt, and olive oil. It is kneaded together and ferments for two days before being made into pizzas. This dough results in a thicker crust than most other pizza places aim for and it's cooked so that it gets an even, dark golden color. It does not char, and there is no leopard spotting here.

On top of the dough goes M&O's sauce. "It's not a vegetarian sauce," Pepper points out, "it has anchovy in it." Additional ingredients include organic tomatoes, garlic, marjoram, and salt. It's cooked and cooled before being put on the pizza. It's a dark red, and might be too salty for some, but the dough and cheese balance the meaty, salty flavor out.

Gioia mozzarella tops Nathan's pizza Margharita. The cheese is broken up on top of the sauce and the pie goes in the oven for a few minutes and is rotated several times before coming out. The cheese melts right into the sauce and deep down into the dough, fusing the whole into a flat plane. It crisps up on a rack and is topped with fresh basil, Arbequina olive oil and fleur de sel before being sliced up and served. It's great right out of the oven, it lasts for about an hour in a cardboard box on the way home, and is even good the next morning, perhaps topped with a fried egg and some Parmesan.
·All Pizza Week 2012 Coverage [~ELA~]

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