How 'Bout Them Knockers: LA Gourmet Pizza

knockers_lagourmet_pizza.jpg
Patrick Michels
LA Gourmet Pizza/Diningin.com
2709 McKinney Ave.
214-981-9337

Promised delivery time: 1:15
Actual delivery time: 1:29

The Score
Getting the "L.A." theme for Oscar night: 10
Online ordering convenience: 9
Promising pizza names like "Meat Land": 20
Boldness of a small-town Kentucky-based pizza chain with Hollywood aspirations: 9
Putting the word "gourmet" in their name: -5
Minutes between first bite and onset of grease-induced coma: (minus) 35
It's pizza, and someone brings it to you: 39

Total: 47

Overall Standings
Zini's Pizzeria 51
LA Gourmet Pizza 47

See the final 2008 standings here.

The red-carpet conversation was riveting, the dead animals slung playfully across Whoopi Goldberg's shoulders, and dinnertime last night saw me craving just a taste of the sweet SoCal life I saw on my TV.

So turning to my local delivery options, it seemed right to go with Uptown's LA Gourmet Pizza. The name conjured all the sun-baked luxury of that Dallas of the West, and gourmet too.

Actually, I wanted to order Indian and write something with a Slumdog theme, but Kalachandji's don't deliver. And neither would LA Gourmet, as it turned out -- not to Lakewood, where I live. But as Megan wrote earlier, Diningin.com would cross the restaurant's usual delivery lines -- and pocket a six-buck kickback for the trouble.

So the delivery would be a collaboration, like any big Hollywood production. If the food left me with a feel-good finish, fast and flavorful as Slumdog, I'd give both the restaurant and the delivery agents their due. If the meal just didn't work -- bad taste, bad timing, whatever -- they'd have to share the blame.

The menu was promising, and Diningin.com's ordering process worked great, so I had high hopes as I watched their online clock count down. But between the 90-minute delivery and the ugly toppings stuck in the cheese, the whole thing was kind of a letdown -- like I'd called up Frank Langella asking for Frost/Nixon, and Renny Harlin knocked at my door holding Cutthroat Island and a side of ranch dressing.

LA Gourmet takes a cue from California Pizza Kitchen, with its menu options and with its thin hand-tossed crust, and they have five locations across the country. One is here on McKinney, four are in Kentucky.

Their menu was probably the best part of the whole process -- with pizza names like "Casablanca" and "Rodeo Drive", I had plenty of options for stirring up some Hollywood imagery. I went with two small pizzas -- the same price as one medium -- and decided finally on the "West Coast Breeze", a veggie option with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and the awesomely named "Meat Land". This could be the best thing anyone has ever named a pizza, and here on Oscar night, it reminded me of stories about the "Hollywood" sign. I imagined the pizza's name in big white letters overlooking a city in big white letters, until the last four letters were torn down for lumber or blown up by the Rocketeer, leaving few who around who recalled the days when the hillside said anything but "MEAT"

I was impressed by the "Meat Land" concept, topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, steak strips, Canadian bacon and meatballs, but its execution was more grease than flavor. There wasn't much of any meat but the pepperoni, and the pieces of steak looked especially rough.

The "West Coast Breeze" came off better, with a nice basil and tomato combination and what but by the time the pizza had arrived -- 15 minutes late -- it had a lukewarm, congealing look that left me thinking about a frozen CPK cheese and tomato pizza instead.

The delivery guy redeemed Diningin.com's performance by being very apologetic and sporting a full Sam Elliott-style handlebar 'stache, and promised they didn't usually run so late. For delivery from restaurants that wouldn't be options otherwise, I'd probably use them again, but this time next year I'll probably steer clear of any place with either "LA" or "Gourmet" in the name.
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