For the best pizza in Long Beach, Little Coyote has you covered – Press Telegram
Some culinary landmarks indicate your age. One remembers when sushi was a punchline in a Benihana radio ad, where an ignorant guy mocked Japanese food for being “fish that just jumped out of the sea and aren’t even still dead!” (Like that’s a bad thing!) He calms down when his mate says everything in Benihana is cooked in front of you.
Another culinary landmark is being old enough to remember when the quality of pizza here in SoCal was far from despised – back when we took chains like Pizza Hut and Domino’s because, well, that was all there was.
And then, the world changed… radically. In the same way that Los Angeles sushi has become so good that the New York Times recently ran a cover story in its Food section stating that Los Angeles is home to the best sushi this side of Tokyo, we have become a kingdom of pizza as good as anything in America.
And not just good ‘za, but good regional pies. Look around SoCal, and you’ll find the pizzas of Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, as well as our own California pizza, and some of the most excellent interpretations of New York pizza from my inexperienced youth – with its thin crust and crisp that you bend over backwards to eat as you rush down the street to the subway, and its minimalist garnish of mozzarella, pepperoni, mushrooms, red sauce and herbs.
We didn’t eat pineapple on our pizza back then. Still not, not if we can help it.
This brings me to the wonders of the dynamic pizzeria duo called little coyotewhich started in a small space in the Arts District, and expanded to a much more substantial operation on the always somewhat confusing Los Coyotes Diagonal, where I found myself confused as to where I am and where I’m going, more only a few times.
Co-owners/creators Jonathan Strader (of Hatchet Hall in Culver City) and Jack Leahy (of L&L Oyster in Silver Lake) are following in the footsteps of many other chefs in the city (and country), ditching more expensive dining options. to what is essentially a passion project. This is how Jose Andres opened a quick-service vegetarian restaurant in Washington DC; Wolfgang Puck has spread his California pizzas to a chain of casual pizzerias; and upscale chefs Leonard Schwartz and Michael Rosen descended on Montrose with Zeke’s BBQ Smokehouse.
In this case, what Strader and Leahy set out to do is create an excellent, classic, easy-to-fold New York street pizza – a taste of what so many of us ate before goat cheese. and smoked salmon don’t show up on a pie.
And where the original Little Coyote really is “small” – not much more than a counter, where you order and pick up takeout, with a handful of tables inside and a second set of tables on the sidewalk – the spin-off on the Diagonal it smells like an authentic restaurant, with waiters and a host and lots of tables on the terrace, and stacks of Little Coyote merchandising. It’s a concept ready to spread its corny, sassy gospel.
The crusts are… a marvel. The dough is fermented for three days and topped with nothing very exotic. There are 15 possible toppings listed on the menu. For those who want to personalize what they chew, the most outrageous topping is the jalapeño pepper. Other than that, this is the pizza I grew up with – topped with pepperoni and mozzarella, mushrooms and basil, ricotta and garlic.
And it’s a super ‘za, probably the best in Long Beach, and among the best in SoCal, where our pizzas went from trash to glorious, trash to terrific.
To Little Coyote’s credit, there’s nothing else on the menu to distract from pizza heaven except for a pair of simple salads – an antipasto with iceberg lettuce and a Caesar with romaine. Nothing strange in either. Nor in the trio of submarine sandwiches: Classic Italian with its trio of meats (mortadella, capicola and sopressata), accompanied by provolone and “The Works”. There is also a meatball (half pork, half beef and all very good!) and Caprese with thin buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes.
And, yes, you can add anchovies to pies, because, well, you can always add anchovies. I quite like anchovies. But they tend to do pizza all around… anchovies.
There are chocolate chip cookies, which don’t go on pizza. They come into you. I would prefer Italian ice cream, because that’s what we always ate afterwards. But then you can’t have it all. And anyway, what they forged in Little Coyote is enough. It’s not just memory pizza. This is the pizza of dreams. This coyote howls!
Merrill Shindler is a freelance food critic based in Los Angeles. Email [email protected]
- Evaluation: 3 stars
- Address: 3500 Los Coyotes Diagonal, Long Beach, 562-352-1555; 2118 E. 4th St., Long Beach, 562-434-2009
- Information: www.littlecoyotelbc.com
- When: Lunch and dinner, daily
- Food: Hyper-popular pair of pizzerias and sub-shops in Long Beach, serving arguably the best pie in town and some of the best in SoCal. There’s the original location in the Arts District and a spin-off on the North Side, with a striped menu and lots of merchandising – eat a slice, grab the hat, wear the t-shirt. This Coyote is worth obsessing over!
- Prices: About $18 per person
- Suggested dishes: 7 pies ($16-$21), 15 additional toppings, 2 salads ($11-$13), 3 subs ($12-$13)
- Credit card: CM, V
- What do the stars mean: 4 (World class! Worth the trip from anywhere!), 3 (Most excellent, if not outstanding. Worth the trip from anywhere in Southern California.), 2 (A great place to go for a meal. Worth the trip from anywhere in the neighborhood.) 1 (If you’re hungry and it’s nearby, but don’t get stuck in traffic.) 0 (Honestly not worth it write on it.)