Name of restaurant: Grimaldi's Coal Brick-Oven Pizza
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The pizza -- could it be L.A.'s best New York pizza? Possibly! It's baked in a coal-fired oven that reaches 1,000 degrees and comes out a hot, bubbling, delicious mess. It's pizza with topography: continents of ivory house-made mozzarella and oceans of bright red tomato sauce, with melted sprinkled Parmesan, tiny flecks of browned garlic and toppings such as slightly thicker-cut pepperoni, salty anchovies, kalamata olives, meatballs, sausage and more. This is New York pie, which means it is large (you can get it personal-sized, but it is not the best expression of Grimaldi's pizza -- get at least a 16-inch) and consistently thin-crusted to nearly the edge of the pizza. It's not cracker-thin, and the edges sometimes come out with some pretty glorious, billowy, charred bubbles. No slices, just whole pies.
Concept: The pizzeria founded by Patsy Grimaldi in Brooklyn in 1990 has become a national chain (now owned by one of its first customers, Frank Ciolli, and his son, Joey Ciolli) with pizzerias on the East Coast and in Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada that turn out consistent Grimaldi pies. The first California location opened last month in El Segundo, on the edge of Manhattan Beach, in a neighborhood where corporate America meets beach city -- self-tanning salons, waxing centers and gyms are interspersed between mid-rise offices for Accenture and Murad along Rosecrans Boulevard. It's also the land of P.F. Chang's, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Cozymel's Mexican Grill. Grimaldi's interior is somewhat cavernous, with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, black leatherette booths and neo-Italian-manor touches such as mahogany-finished columns. But don't think you won't find excellent pizza; it's here.
Who's at the next table? Two men in workout wear (a giant Equinox is down the street) settling in with a couple of dark beers, office workers likely from nearby banks, families and couples who might be heading to the ArcLight Cinemas across the street after dinner.
Appropriate for ... : Lovers of pizza.
Uh-oh ... : The coal-fired oven is no joke. Pizzas come out very hot, so don't burn the roof of your mouth.
Service: Young, friendly and efficient.
What are you drinking? A glass of Chianti Classico Riserva or a bottle of Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA.
Info: 2121 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 1399, El Segundo, (310) 648-7503, grimaldispizzeria.com.