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An overhead shot of a pepperoni pizza with cheese shaved onto the crust.

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Pasadena’s Union Restaurant Pushes the New York Pizza Envelope

The little brother project from Pasadena’s busy Union team opens tomorrow

U Street Pizza
| Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

If there’s one thing that’s proven to be essentially pandemic-proof over the past year or so, it’s pizza. From underground square pies to the daily delivery madness that is Hail Mary Pizza in Atwater Village, restaurants have found a workable business model in dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings. Now comes another big new player in the greater LA market: U Street Pizza, opening tomorrow in the heart of Pasadena.

The appropriately-named U Street comes to Pasadena’s busy Union Street tomorrow by way of Marie Petulla and the rest of the crew behind Union, the perennially packed Italian restaurant right next door. And while the new U Street is actually larger than the California red sauce mainstay, the two share a rough layout and all the classic architectural bones native to the Old Pasadena area. That means brick walls, refinished original wood floors, exposed ceilings, and bay windows (all touched by interior designer Andee Ferrer) that look out onto the street beyond. In post-pandemic times, expect more bar seating, more close-quarter energy at night, and more tables overall, but for now Petulla and the team are sticking with the mandated 50 percent indoor dining capacity as part of the state’s current orange coronavirus tier.

A close up shot of a salad with croutons and shaved cheese.

As for the food, Union’s executive chef Chris Keyser is on to oversee the pizza-focused menu at U Street. Keyser has East Coast Italian cooking in his bones, having worked under Marc Vetri for years before moving to greater Los Angeles. Keyser previously told Robb Report that the pizza menu would focus on New York-style pies. “We’re looking for thin, we’re looking for crispy, and we’re looking for crack, with a little bit of breadiness,” he told the publication last month. Expect pretty direct East Coast-style takes on the menu, from classic pepperoni (the cupped kind) to coastal clam pies with garlic and lemon, plus a section for DIY pies, salad starters, and desserts like zeppoli or soft serve ice cream. The opening menu is below.

The new U Street Pizza opens tomorrow at 33 E. Union Street, keeping daily hours from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. to start. The restaurant should help to further cement the short strip around Union Street as one of the better (and more pedestrian-friendly) areas to dine anywhere in greater LA, from omakase shop Osawa and busy Bone Kettle around the corner to Union, Main Chick (for Nashville-style spice), Tacos 1986, and the historic brunch favorite Russell’s on the other corner.

A pepperoni pizza close up with cheese around the edge.
A crispy New York-style pizza with peppers and basil on top.
A chopped Italian salad with salami and a pepper on top.
A berry compote dessert in a wide dish with mint on top.
A swirl of mixed soft serve with nuts sprinkled on top in real time.
A long brick restaurant space with light wood floors.
The long refurbished space
Stools set for dining at a bar area inside of a new restaurant.
Tables spaced apart with PlexiGlass between them inside of a new restaurant.
A lone six-top table inside of a dark new restaurant.
Individual tables inside of a restaurant with new glass between, per COVID protocols.
Stacked white boxes of pizza with a label of the restaurant’s name on the ends.

U Street

33 E. Union Street, Pasadena, CA 91103 Visit Website
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