For a true slice of East Coast flavor, look no further than Nicky D’s Wood Fired Pizza on De la Vina Street, where longtime pizzaiolo Nick DeMarinis and his wife, Bunny DeMarinis, have been serving up whole pies of brick-oven-baked goodness for five years. As much an attraction as the pizza itself, the exuberant pair abounds with stories and laughter, the perfect topping to a truly tasty take on everyone’s favorite Italian import, New York style.
Slices are sold as well as whole pies, and favorites include the Margherita — its crust a delicious balance of soft and crisp — or, for a richer experience, the Pesto Bravo, a pesto pie bejeweled with generous bulbs of garlic, slivers of red pepper, sausage, and daubs of goat cheese. There’s also the White Garlic Clam, which can be elevated further with the addition of bacon.
Nicky is carrying on the DeMarinis family legacy — his grandfather was an Italian pizza chef and his father a restaurant owner — and feels that his oven sets his pizza apart from the pack. “I wanted to be different, and I knew that wood was the way to do it,” said DeMarinis, who imported bricks from Rome, Italy. “The chariots drove over the top of the bricks,” he said. “The fire’s never really completely out,” explained Bunny, adding that her husband cooks “all by instinct and feel … He does a ballet with his hands almost when he’s making pizza. It’s beautiful to watch.”
And their stories are a treat to hear, for Nicky D and Bunny have led quite the life. Before opening a Times Square pizzeria with his brother Dennis, Nicky D studied acting with Lee Strasberg in New York City. In 1984, the couple moved to L.A., where they became deep-dished in Hollywood: Nicky appears as a pizza man in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and The X-Files, and as a cab driver in Sinatra’s The First Deadly Sin. Make sure to ask about the time Nicky served pizza to a young Elton John or his christening as Nicky D by Muhammad Ali or overhearing the gunshots that felled John Lennon or the ghosts that forced them out of their previous Silver Lake location. And if you’re a TV producer, Nicky has lots of ideas ready for the making.
“I’m proud of my pizza; it’s the real McCoy,” said Nicky D. “I mean no disrespect to anyone, but I’m the best.”
2840 De la Vina Street, Suite B; (805) 898-2222; nickydspizza.com