Damiano Mr. Pizza

damiano

The last remaining outlet of Damiano Mr. Pizza closed unexpectedly at the end of May.  Mitchell Kitay, the owner, told the press that he was forced out by the owners of the restaurant Animal, which had purchased the building two years ago.  Whatever the reason, suddenly there was no more Damiano Mr. Pizza.

To the best of my knowledge, there were once three…this one, on Fairfax across from Canter’s; another one on Robertson two blocks south of Pico and the one I first visited, which was on Pico near Westwood.  It was in a corner building that had previously been the original location of Junior’s Delicatessen and is now a Maria’s Italian Kitchen.  The places were known variously as Damiano’s, Mr. Pizza and Damiano’s Mr. Pizza.  I’d always assumed someone named Damiano bought a pizzeria that was already named Mr. Pizza and just tacked his name on the way a woman named Ruth bought the Chris Steak House and added her name to it.  But that was just speculation.  I don’t know if Mr. Kitay was the founder but perhaps someone who posts in the comments section will.

What I do know is that Damiano offered the closest thing to “New York Italian” I ever found in Los Angeles.  The pizza was good — a bit greasy and a bit salty but quite tasty.  Even better were the pasta dishes, especially anything with their slow-cooked meat sauce on it.  I frequented all three outlets before the first two closed.

The one on Fairfax opened in ’64 and quickly became an institution in the area.  It stayed open (and delivered!) until 6 AM…7 AM on weekends, which came in handy at times.  In addition to great Italian food and beverages, the delivery guys could also bring you cigarettes…and one of their delivery guys told me once that at 5 AM, it was not unusual for someone to call up for a few cartons of Marlboro’s and then say, “While you’re at it, have him bring a pizza too.”  Most of the delivery folks seemed like homeless people with cars and one friend of mine used to tip them extra to stop at the CVS Pharmacy and bring medicines or candy, as well.  It was the one place at that hour you could phone and get someone to do that kind of thing for you.

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I often got deliveries from Damiano Mr. Pizza but around 1990, I stopped actually going into the restaurant.  It was just too dilapidated, crowded and a little dirty.  I assume they fixed it up after that — they would have had to — but the shabby surroundings diminished my love of their chow.  It was though fun to watch the one guy on the phone juggling ten orders at once, hopping from one call on hold to another.  There was one period there where I stopped ordering from them because the orders were always incorrect when they arrived…but after a year or so, I finally missed their food enough to give them another try and the first and all subsequent orders were right.  You can imagine how much I’m going to miss them now.  Mr. Kitay says he hopes to reopen in another location and I hope he does…but I’ll still miss the place on Fairfax.  Even after I stopped setting foot inside, I was glad it was there…and delivering.

67 Responses to Damiano Mr. Pizza

  • Sheri says:

    Mr. Pizza had the best pizza of anywhere in the L.A. area. I moved out of the area and whenever I was in the Fairfax area, I always stopped to bring home one of their pizzas. In high school, at Fairfax, Mr. Pizza was the hangout where we would all go for a slice of pizza for lunch. I’m sad that they closed.

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Thank you Phillip McCan. I’m Domanick’s daughter, Laura Albanese Mancuso. I’m getting quite irrattared with the redundant post by Frank Lewis , that I have clarified already a year and a half ago.
    Frank Lewis, you are a delusional person. My family knows Noone named Irving Kitay, which IS NOT my brother’s biological father. I even invited you to call but have no “Juevos” to do so but to continue to post false information.
    I will attach the videos once more . It’s apparent that Frank is mentally challenged! Wow!!
    Tape 1
    https://youtu.be/Q3HcN2mPwlU

    Tape 2
    https://youtu.be/W3yr4uKOwnc

    Thank you for all the dedicated , loyal customers!

    Much love
    Laura Albanese Mancuso

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Wow Frank Lewis, you’re still at it?
    You really delusional..
    Thank you Phillip, for stating the facts. Let’s all pray for frank, the “poor thing”.
    I’m attaching the two videos of my father, founder and owner of Damiano Mr. Pizza!! This was in the 80s with Regis Philbin .
    Tape 1
    https://youtu.be/Q3HcN2mPwlU
    Tape 2
    https://youtu.be/W3yr4uKOwnc

    Thank you for all the loyal customers and please excuse Frank Lewis”comments, POOR, POOR , DELUSIONAL MAN…

  • Dick Franz says:

    Mitch Kitay clearly states Albanese worked for his dad! This crazed woman is not Doms daughter.

  • Hari Simran Stoothoff says:

    I used to go to the Damiano’s on Robertson with my Sikh family for garlic pizza. It was the best….incredible. I took my daughters there when they were little, and he came and sat, and talked with us. He said he made the garlic pizza for the Sikhs. I will never forget that day. He was so friendly, and so special, and made us feel very special too! I love the video with Regis Philbin….love him too!
    So sorry to hear you have closed…was going to take my friend there. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Stacy says:

    This was the BEST pizza in Los Angeles. So sorry they are gone. I dont even care for pizza that much now but as a kid, It always had to be Domiano’s!

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Are you mentally ill Frank Lewis?? Why are you starting your bs again?
    Tape 1 of my father dumb ass

    https://youtu.be/Q3HcN2mPwlU

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Frank
    I’ve invited you 3x to personally call me, yet no call. You’re a coward and an embarrassment to my father . Go play in traffic!

    Tape 2
    https://youtu.be/W3yr4uKOwnc

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Dick Franz
    Where are you getting the wrong info from???
    Mitch Kitay is my brother!!

  • Tina Mancuso says:

    Dick,

    Assuring that you know the owners which you claim you do, you would know that there is nobody in the family with the name Irving. In fact, I am 100% certain of this considering I am Domanicks granddaughter. Mitch is my uncle and there is no way in the deepest depths of hell that he would ever say that “Albanese worked for his dad” considering Mitch was his step son, and his father passed years before that. I do not know who this “Irving” figure is that you are referring to, but for the sake of my grandfathers memory please do your homework before you attack the family of the owner. I’m sure doing so, you would find that you are wrong and that there are plenty of pictures/write ups/reviews stating the owners as Mitch or Domanick. By the way that “crazed woman” above is my mother, and she is his daughter. I invite you to read an article from LA Times stating both Mitchell and Dominick as the rightful owners.

    http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-damiano-mr-pizza-closing-20130619-story.html

  • Matt Hulit says:

    All of this is nonsense. Dominick Albanese is the ONE AND ONLY FOUNDER OF DAMIANO’S MR PIZZA! As a close friend of the family and a long time customer. I know this absolute fact! Laura and brother took over operations after the passing of Laura’s father.

  • David b. Gabel says:

    I have known Laura and her family since I was a teenager. It was very insulting to read the ignorance of comments about them. I was treated as if I was family by Dom, and it was the best Italian food around! I have and always will have very fond memories of Damiano’s

  • Erik T says:

    The above posters are lying. I was a kid in the neighborhood and knew both Damiano’s delicious pizza but also the family that owned it, mostly through Laura Albanese, the owners daughter who was my age. It sad to see someone try to rewrite history and steal someone’s legacy.

  • April says:

    Let me set the record straight. I met Laura and her mother Bea Albanese in 1972 and am best friends with Laura to this day. I grew up with the Albanese family and spent lots of time in their home and restaurants, mostly the Pico store as they called it, but also Robertson and Fairfax. Bea was a widow who had two young kids from a prior marriage, Heather and Mitch Kitay. Dom Albanese married Bea and was Laura’s dad (Heather and Mitch’s step-dad). Dom started Domiano’s Mr. Pizza and there was no “Irving”. Bea made cheesecakes for the restaurants. Mitch ran the Fairfax store. It was a family business. I Sadly Dom passed away in the late 80’s. Laura is 100% accurate. If you have any questions, call her and she’ll set you straight. She inherited Dom’s big balls!

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Thank you Phillip. These two jerks on here need to stop posting incorrect info and misleading the loyal customers. They are disrespecting my father ..
    Thank you for all of the positive feedback minus a couple of uneducated heckler’s.My brother has not stated he’s opening anything as of yet. But will make sure once known it will be announced . Lol Irving NY Pizza is not one of them ..wow

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Hari Simran Stoothoff,
    Thank you for the kind words.
    That is a true statement regarding the garlic pizza made for the Sikh community. We appreciate your business.

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Thank you Sheri,
    It is truely sad that we are closed. Hopefully we can reopen sometime soon.
    Regards,

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