Name of restaurant: Dough Box Pizza and Bread, a pizzeria that specializes in deep-dish pizza, officially opened a few weeks ago in the former home of a Mexican bakery in El Sereno. The pizzeria takes its name from the container where you place dough to proof, similar to the proofing drawer in the “Great British Bake Off.” Unlike the anxious bakers on that show, though, Dough Box owners Alexandra Gonzalez and Tony Hernandez proof their pizza dough for between 24 and 48 hours. The flavor of the dough, Hernandez says, only “gets better with time.”
The backstory: Gonzalez and Hernandez actually started Dough Box early last year; up until now, they were operating from a 200-square-foot commissary nearby in City Terrace, where customers would phone in their order and then pick it up at a scheduled time. If that set-up rings a bell, you may remember another deep-dish specialist, Hollywood Pies, that operated on a similar call-in/pick-up model when it opened a few years ago. Not uncoincidentally, Gonzalez was one of the co-founders of Hollywood Pies.
After leaving Hollywood Pies, Gonzalez worked at Bread Lounge, the Arts District bakery, as a barista. That’s where she met Hernandez, who was there as the pastry chef. Gonzalez moved on to pull shots at Civil Coffee, and Hernandez to bake at Proof Bakery, before they decided to quit their day jobs and go all in with Dough Box.
Where you are: Sitting on a stool at Dough Box’s El Sereno location, near the skate park, or comfortably watching old episodes of “Bake Off” on Netflix at home, waiting for Dough Box to deliver your pie.
What’s in the box: Pizza, of course. Unsurprisingly, given Gonzalez’s background, the emphasis here is on their version of deep-dish pizza, which comes in six-, nine-, and 12-inch sizes. You can also order it by the slice. The long fermentation time of the dough yields a lovely crust that Gonzalez and Hernandez describe as “biscuity.” It’s also structurally sound. “Since our main business is delivery, the crust needs to hold up,” says Gonzalez. The pizza survived a rush-hour drive from the pizzeria to Pasadena, easily. No soggy bottoms here.
As for the toppings, there’s a baker’s dozen that makes up the core of the menu, with both meat and vegetarian options available. The pies are named after various streets in Los Angeles; the Figueroa, for example, has mozzarella, pepperoni, cherry peppers and red onion. The Alameda, meanwhile, has mozzarella, ricotta, spinach and garlic. The ricotta is house-made, and the vegetables are roasted every day. “Nothing is frozen,” Gonzalez says. “We get our sausage in El Sereno, down the street on Huntington.”
In case you’re not partial to deep-dish pie, Dough Box uses that same dough to make a few other types of pizza. There’s a pan pizza on the menu, for instance, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, thin-crust pizzas. And they just started offering Sicilian-style pizza, sold by the square.
For dessert: Hernandez changes up the sweets every few weeks, but at the moment, he’s making peanut butter and jelly cookies.
To drink: Topo Chico, Sangria Senorial, Mexican Coke and sparkling water. You know, the basics.
The best way to order: Email, in advance. Though they’ve ramped up their production in recent weeks, Dough Box has proved to be so popular that it often sells out, especially on the weekends.
D’oh: It may take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or more before your deep-dish pizza order is ready, and delivery can take an hour or more. Also note that Dough Box is only open for dinner, and Gonzalez doesn’t anticipate opening for lunch any time soon.
While you’re waiting: Channeling classic pizza parlors, Dough Box has an upright arcade machine tucked away in the corner of the shop. There are some 60 of the greatest video games of all time on there, including “Ms. Pac-Man” and “Galaga.”
What to expect next: Hernandez is going to start baking bread. While they’re still sketching out the details, the team is planning to offer a monthly bread box with a few different types of breads, not unlike a community supported agriculture (CSA) operation. Hernandez is thinking about including ciabatta and country loaves, among others.
And Gonzalez says she misses making coffee, so you can probably expect to see coffee at Dough Box in the future, too.
Info: 2734 N. Eastern Ave., El Sereno, (323) 346-6811, www.doughboxla.com.