Los Angeles has always been that golden city where dreams can come true and for pro skater turned entrepreneur Salman Agah and business partner, Price Latimer, a curator, a pizza place in the heart of downtown was a vision they had for quite a while. And frankly, it was also a desperately needed addition to their neighborhood for late night party cravings and Sunday hangovers. Los Angeles gets a major thumbs down for quality pizza, hence Pizzanista! was born.
Located next door to Tony’s Saloon, a down and dirty pool hall with a killer juke box, the couple wisely added a delivery window from their kitchen to the bar, satiating hungry boozers nightly. Needless to say, Pizzanista! has been a wild success not just because of its location, but also because of Price’s art world connections and Salman’s skate community, the place is always buzzing. The partners have tapped friends from Max Chow (of Mr. Chow) to artists and even foundations to collaborate with, making their pizza concept truly unique and downright awesome. We spoke to Price about the location, the collabs and what’s next.
Why a pizza shop in the middle of nowhere?
It’s not in the middle of nowhere to us! What may appear to visitors as an arbitrary and off-the-beaten-path locale in downtown LA is actually a thriving residential and commercial neighborhood called the Arts District. Since 1981, the Arts District has been home to the “Artist in Residence” (or “AIR”) ordinance, which allows residential use of former industrial buildings by artists. We have lived here since 2004, and recognized the need for a convenient, casual and convivial neighborhood restaurant. Salman comes from a long line of bakers, and we both love pizza (who doesn’t), so Pizzanista! was born with the help of our other partner, Roby Latimer (Price’s brother and Salman’s brother-in-law). We serve homemade, hand-stretched pizza to all of our awesome friends, neighbors and surrounding businesses.
Tell us about your collabs?
West of Rome: For West of Rome’s TrespassParty at Union Station, Pizzanista! collaborated with celebrated artist Rirkrit Tiravanija on three Thai-inspired pizza creations: Beef Panang Curry Pizza, Northern Thai Sausage Pizza and Veggie Yellow Curry Pizza. The evening benefitted the non-profit arts organization and featured performances by Vaginal Davis, Arto Lindsay, JD Samson and Phranc.
Thrasher King of The Road: We sponsored the Thrasher King of the Road / End of the Road Party 2011 and KOTR Awards at Arto Saari’s place, and created a custom box for the event.
Street League: In May, we collaborated with Rob Dyrdek and Street League to make a special Street League pizza and box. The first 50 people to order won a pair of 2 day passes to Street League Stop 2.
The Hundreds: For The Hundreds x Pizzanista project, we collaborated with the streetwear brand on a limited edition tee shirt, pizza box and a special “Persian Pizza” (kabob koobideh, roasted tomatoes, basil, onions, dill yogurt sauce, and sumac). We even threw a party together to celebrate the release!
Keep A Breast Foundation: For the month of October (which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month), we collaborated with Keep A Breast Foundation on a special pizza and custom box. We donated $1 from every pizza sold in October to help fund breast cancer awareness and prevention.
Girl and Chocolate Skateboards: For the much anticipated release of Girl and Chocolate Skateboards’ new video, “Pretty Sweet”, we sponsored the video premiere and created a special pizza reflecting the “Pretty Sweet” colors (with mozzarella, blue potatoes, bacon, sharp cheddar and a sprinkle of green onions) plus a custom box, as well.
Christian Hosoi and Vans: On December 1, we were proud to host a book signing by skateboarding legend Christian Hosoi for his new book, “My Life as a Skateboarder Junkie Inmate Pastor”. Sponsored by Vans, the event featured a performance by Ray Barbee, and a limited edition Hosoi / Pizzanista! / Vans tee shirt and custom pizza box.
We also have our ongoing series of Guest Chef Nights, which have included artist and North Carolina BBQ maestro Andrew Burke, who hickory smoked and BBQed pork shoulders for two phenomenal pizzas: a pulled pork pizza with homemade pickled onions and the Cacalaca Jesus (pulled pork, Italian sausage, pepperoni & bacon), and Adam and Emily Harteau (of Our Open Road), who created two amazing pizza specials: an Argentine-inspired chimmichurri pizza with gaucho skirt steak, mushrooms, kalamata olives & zucchini, and a fig pizza with homemade fig jam, manchego cheese & fresh arugula. More exciting guest chef nights coming soon!
What’s the hottest selling slice?
Pepperoni, hands down.