Friday, April 6, 2007

The Glory That is Burbank: Tony's Bella Vista



Tony's Bella Vista is Burbank's go-to place for birthday parties, baseball teams, and teenage dates. In the same location since 1965, Tony's has only changed hands once, in the 80s, and the original recipes were kept. Plus, the new owners were brothers named Angelo and Giovanni. What more could you want from a pizza place? The interior is a dimly-lit time-warp of red pleather seats, dark wood, and maps of Italy. Thank goodness there are candles on the table or you wouldn't be able to see your plate. Tony's doesn't deliver, but much of their business is in to-go orders. The little waiting area can get pretty dang crowded on a Friday night.

The shrimp in the cocktail and salad are fresh and sweet, and the deep-fried appetizers never disappoint. The rest of the menu is hit and miss. The pasta and gnocchi are not as good as you might hope in such an old-school place. The Salsa Roja, in particular, is not the creamy pink sauce you would expect by the menu description of "cream tomato", but is a bland chunky tomato sauce. The osso bucco and the chicken dishes receive much better treatment.

But the real story here is the pizza. Tony's is famously voted "best pizza in Burbank" every year. To be fair, there is not much competition. The only other non-chain pizza joint in town with a following is Dino's. Although I can't say Tony's is the BEST pizza I have ever had in my whole entire life, they do kick ass. The crust is thicker than New York-style, and thinner than Chicago style. It is very bread-y, but without the annoying sweetness of "California" pizza crust. It is slightly crispy, super chewy, and never greasy. There is a lot of it, and I often leave crusts on my plate in spite of the fact that I am a carb-addicted bread freak.




The toppings are pretty standard. The only notable points are that they use sliced sausage instead of ground sausage, offer the modern touch of sun-dried tomatoes, and the freakish horror of broccoli. Really, the Pizza Bianca is an abomination (Cheese, broccoli, onions and garlic). Was this pizza invented as a punishment for a losing little-league team? I must admit that I personally think broccoli is a sin against God and nature, so take it for what it's worth. On the other end of the spectrum, the end where the "cool" kids hang out, is the "ham, artichoke, sliced tomato and basil" pizza. I had not seen what all the fuss was about with Tony's until I had this pizza. It is an unparalleled topping combination.The room gets really quiet whenever this pizza makes an appearance.



Now, let me tell you the real, real, story of Tony's...the big secret buried amongst the pizza toppings...the reason Tony's will live in my heart forever - the calzone. Yes, the calzone. It is the calzone of the gods. As big as a large pizza, the giant sliced Calzone Imbottito is stuffed with cheese, cold cuts, pepperoni, sausage, and just possibly magic. Or crack.


Tony's Bella Vista 3116 West Magnolia Burbank CA (818) 843-0164

3 comments:

gina & heath said...

Are you only going to write about me and Gina's favorite restaurants? I LOVE Tony's! The pizza is great. We're partial to the meatball. The sauce over the cheese is a great touch.

H

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