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.
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.