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RESTAURANT JOURNAL

Whose pizza is it, anyway?

January 02, 2008|Betty Hallock

WANT extra oregano on your pizza? Too bad. Pepperoni instead of speck? Keep dreaming. Expect your pizza to be sliced? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Toto, we're not in Brooklyn anymore. Just follow the asterisks on the menu at recently opened WeHo pizza-pasta-panini joint Terroni. "*No modification, no substitutions." "*Pizza served uncut." Oh, and by the way, "*All olives have their pits."

The days of pizza your way may be long gone. Thin or thick crust. With or without anchovies. Extra cheese, please. You think anybody's asked chef Nancy Silverton to swap out the wild spinach for arugula on her wild spinach, finocchiona and cacio di Roma pizza or requested extra sauce on her Margherita at Pizzeria Mozza?

The Terroni menu lists 30 pizze, so it's not as if there isn't a lot of choice. But start using your own imagination and that's where the trouble starts. There's the Smendozzata ("cheese-smelly," according to the restaurant) with tomato, mozzarella, spicy Italian sausage, Gorgonzola and red onions. And the Palentona (a reference to northern Italians) with tomato, mozzarella, Fontina, speck and pinenuts. Or the Capricciosa with tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and Italian ham. Sounds delicious, but I happen to be feeling a little capricciosa (fickle) myself, so "can you put some basil on that?"

"Oh, we can't do that," the server says. "The guys in the back would be offended. Last week a customer wanted some oregano on his pizza, and it's not as if we don't have any oregano in the kitchen, but we can't do that. So, sorry, but no."

And just like the menu warns, when the Capricciosa arrives, it's not cut. "Do you think they could cut it into slices in the kitchen?"

"No," the server says. "In Italy, you would just cut it yourself. You want me to show you?" And he proceeds to pick up fork and knife and cut the pizza into quarters. That was really nice of him, but whether he's willing to do that for every customer every time remains to be seen.

Your best bet might be to start carrying a pizza cutter in your bag. And maybe some oregano too.

-- Betty Hallock

Small bites

You can get your croque-monsieur fix all day long at Comme Ca, now open for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Breakfast served weekdays, brunch Saturday and Sunday.

8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 782-1178, commeca restaurant.com.

The space that formerly housed German restaurant and bar Lowenbrau-Keller will be the site of Medusa Lounge. According to its website, Medusa Lounge is scheduled to open this month. According to a Craigslist ad, the place is still looking for "an experienced chef/sous chef with a background in Italian cuisine."

3211 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, medusaloungela.com.

Arnie Morton's the Steakhouse has opened in Woodland Hills. The 9,000-square-foot location (Arnie's 78th steakhouse worldwide) is open nightly for dinner. Adjacent to the dining room is Bar 12-21 -- for "Mortinis." Private parties in the "Boardrooms."

6250 Canoga Ave., Woodland Hills, (818) 703-7272, mortons .com.

The Brass.-Cap. is now serving a small-plates menu, in addition to its regular menu, nightly for guests dining at the zinc bar. Sundays and Mondays feature "the game" shown on two flat-screen monitors.

100 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica, (310) 454-4544.

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