Piece O’ Pizza

Piece O’ Pizza was the brand name of a string of eateries that once decorated the Southern California landscape…an amazing reach considering the awfulness of their signature product. Do you like pizza where the crust tastes like matzo, the toppings have the thickness of carbon paper and you can’t decide whether to eat the pizza or the box it came in? If you do, you’d have loved Piece O’ Pizza pizza. Just awful. What kept them in business, it seemed to me, was their great, racy slogan (“Had a piece lately?”) and the fact that there then weren’t a lot of other places where one could grab a fast pizza to take home.

Also, they served a decent meatball sandwich and a more-than-decent (and very cheap) spaghetti plate. Many of the Piece O’ Pizza stands were in “Skid Row” style areas, and I bet that spaghetti plate kept a lot of homeless people alive.

Like I said, they were all over L.A. There was one on Pico just east of Sepulveda, one at Beverly and Fairfax, another on La Brea just south of Hollywood, another on La Cienega near Airdrome, another on Western just south of Hollywood…and (I’m guessing) at least 200 more. As far as I know, there’s only one remaining. It’s down on Venice Boulevard about a half-mile west of Sepulveda. A year or two ago, I was in the neighborhood and in need of rapid lunch, so I decided to go in and have the spaghetti plate, just to see if it was still the same. Since there is no parent company now to supply the preparations, I was expecting totally different cuisine…but the meat sauce was more or less what I recalled, or at least it seemed to have evolved from the same recipe.

I probably won’t go back since I now have better places to eat. I suspect that’s what killed off the Piece O’ Pizza chain in or around the late eighties. As Numero Uno and Pizza Hut and even Domino’s spread, everyone had a better place to get a quick pizza or to have one brought piping-hot to their door. Speculating further, I’d guess that too many of their stands were located in depressed areas, which made it difficult for them to upgrade their product. It would have been awkward to simultaneously improve their menu (thereby making most items more expensive), advertise that they’d done this…but still service the crowd that just wanted the cheapest-possible plate of pasta.

I don’t exactly miss the places since they weren’t that good. On the other hand, I’ve been to fancy Italian restaurants where I enjoyed a $20 entree a lot less than I liked the Piece O’ Pizza spaghetti plate. Even in the early eighties, it didn’t cost much over two dollars…and that included garlic bread.

57 Responses to Piece O’ Pizza

  • John Hindsill says:

    Boys and girls, there still are several Piece O’ Pizza stores around the greater L.A. area, including the Westside (which seems the orientation of much of this site) in Mar Vista

    Darrel, Pizza Man, has 10 locations around greater L.A.area, including one about a mile of my home. I rarely eat pizza anymore, but sometimes I get a pie from them for nostalgia sake.

  • Bruce says:

    We moved to LA in 1966 from NYC and were fascinated by the novelty of “How would you like a hot delicious pizza delivered to your door, right now! Pizza Man, he delivers!” (Is there an .mp3 of the audio anywhere on the web?) and “Don’t cook tonight, Chicken Delight.”

  • Philip McCan says:

    I had my first Italian sub sandwich at the Piece O’ Pizza on La Cienega and 18th St. when I was about 10 years old. I always got one after getting a haircut from Morris the Barber on La Cienega and Airdrome.

  • Richie says:

    You’re nuts, the pizza is amazing!!! Our friends and family stopped ordering anything else. Maybe you are talking about an older recipe? The garlic cheese bread is also exceptional. Fast, cheap, and good, the Holy Trinity of Food!

  • Mark M. says:

    My dad used to take us to the pico location almost every Saturday night, and he later forced me to work there when I turned 16. I wasn’t happy about it at first, but eventually I enjoyed it. Learning how to make pizza was so fun for a kid! Eventually my brother worked there as well, and later other friends joined us too. It became our place. I remember all the tables were numbered except for the farthest one from the kitchen, which was named “Siberia.” Tony Dam was the owner at that time. He was always good to us kids. Great memories.

  • Gloria Mitchell says:

    As a teenager in the 60’s I frequented the Piece o’ Pizza near Laurel Canyon and Whitsett. It remains my standard for a slice of pizza. It was big and foldable with a little pool of grease on top which I now realize was my first introduction to a New York pie. Fabulous!

  • Michael Wolf says:

    Piece O’Pizza came from the imaginations of two brothers in the early 50’s, AL and Marty. AL was our neighbor in the Valley. Originally you could get a family meal that included a big plate of Spaghetti, a Pizza, Garlic Bread. AND a 1/2 gal. Jug of soda, that served a family of 4 for $ 3.95. I ate that meal at least once a week sometimes on Laurel Canyon, sometimes at home as take-out, with AL bringing it home for us . Those restaurants made the brothers very wealthy people.l

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