>> Sampa's Gourmet Pizza | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday 20 March 2023

Sampa's Gourmet Pizza

Pacific Coast Highway facade

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท BRAZIL
๐Ÿ“ 2413 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Lomita, South Bay
๐Ÿ…ฟ️ Ample parking in plaza
๐Ÿฅค No Alcohol
๐ŸŒฑ Vegetarian Friendly

If you have ever visited friends in Sรฃo Paulo, Brazil's largest city and financial center, it is almost a certainty that they took you to a rodizio-style pizza joint. Similar to the churrascaria restaurants serving all-you-can-eat cuts of meat that have become popular in the United States and other places where Brazilian foods are enjoyed, pizza in Brazil is also usually enjoyed in this format.

Instead of grilled meats brought around on skewers to be knifed off on your plate, a pizza rodizio sees servers holding fresh pies hot from the oven. As they circulate, you can grab small slices of as many pizzas as you want or order from a menu, a great way to sample a variety of toppings. In the United States, you are lucky if a pizzeria will deliver you a pie with different toppings on the two halves, but an average pizza night in Sampa (the nickname for Sรฃo Paulo city) sees diners eating four, six, eight, or even a double digit amount of different slices.

Sampa's branded pizza box

Tiny Sampa's Gourmet Pizza opened in Lomita in 2018 (and expanded to a slightly larger location in Marina Del Rey a year later) with the intentions of hosting pizza rodizio nights, and had successful ones before the pandemic started in early 2020. If you make a reservation and bring a big enough group, you can still ask for this, but for now rodizio nights are still on hold despite the owners wanting to get back to them when possible.

Like many foods in Los Angeles, the pizzeria began because its owners missed some tastes from back home. They put this home in their name, the state of Sรฃo Paulo is shaded into the logo, and scenes from downtown are printed in a large mural on the wall of the dining room. At the top of the Brazilian Specialty Pizzas menu is the Sรฃo Paulo ($23, below).

Sรฃo Paulo pizza with chicken, corn, and catupiry cheese

The namesake pie has three main ingredients: shredded chicken, sweet yellow corn, and catupiry (think soft, spreadable, savory cream cheese), which is layered over the mozzarella and tomato sauce at the pizza's base. While there is tomato sauce on many of Brazil's favorite pizzas, it is usually quite thin and not nearly as important a component as the variety of toppings.

Many pizza snobs will furrow their brow at the toppings that can be found on a Brazilian pizza, but diners who enjoy experiencing all the variety the world has to offer will enjoy this just as much as the pies that come from Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Japan, and Argentina. Corn might seem odd for someone who has never eaten it on pizza before, but start with the Sรฃo Paulo and see for yourself how well these tastes work together.

Close up Sรฃo Paulo toppings

A slice of Sรฃo Paulo pizza with Sabor Mineiro hot sauce

Because Brazilian pizza is quite thin and sometimes loaded with many heavy toppings, it is of course best to plan your time around eating inside the small restaurant and not getting your pizza boxed. They have shakers of oregano and Parmesan cheese, but the condiment you will desire most is the hot sauce from Minas Gerais that you will see on most tables in Sรฃo Paulo. Oregano is already dusted on many pies, so grab a bottle of this medium-spicy bright red sauce and lather your slice up as desired.

When you eat here, you will see quite a few customers coming in to pick up pizzas they have called in to order or placed online. Plenty of pepperoni and marinara pies are made alongside the top Brazilian picks on the menu. While the cities may be seen as rivals, these Sรฃo Paulo expats also make a version named for Rio de Janeiro ($24, below).

Rio de Janeiro pizza

This is a meatless pizza that has a provolone and catupiry mix on top of the mozzarella, making for a supremely cheesy treat. Big meaty hunks of hearts of palm are the star of the show, weighing down the slices enough that it is best eaten with a fork and knife. Oregano balances the taste spectrum, but once again a few shakes from the Mineiro hot sauce are the best finish.

On future visits you can sample pizzas with Portuguese sausages, cooked ham, hard-boiled eggs, and even tuna with olives. To cater to the non-adventurous pizza crowd, they also have an array of Italian classics, but that side of the menu will never seem appealing when you talk to one of the owners and see their passion for the pizza of Brazil.

Close up of Rio de Janeiro pizza

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท

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