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Filipino, Brazilian, Thai, Indian & Hawaiian ~ Try These Regional-Style Pizzas in Long Beach, Harbor Area

Filipino Pizza from Pow Wow

[dropcap size=big]D[/dropcap]espite having a rich Italian American heritage and history, Los Angeles has never created its own style of pizza. What you see more often is an amalgamation of different types of pizza – such as New York-style, Chicago-style, thin crust vs thick, etc. – with no coherent characteristic threading the pies together.

But L.A. does have a pizza method, let's say. Traditional pizza styles are taken a step further and enhanced at the hands of immigrant-based communities offering their own take with regional flavors. That in it of itself is uniquely Los Angeles. And here is a focused look at few of those.

For this list, we’ve chosen to focus on Long Beach, its surrounding communities, as well as parts of the South Bay. It’s an area celebrated for its diversity and we’ve tracked down some of the best pizzas in the area illustrative of these distinctive regions of Los Angeles.

One thing to keep in mind is that these aren't “stunt” pizzas looking to wow and rack up Instagram likes but rather working-class families looking to share a slice of home with their customer base. It is for that reason, these pizza places are an extension of what Jonathan Gold once referred to as “entry level capitalism.”

Angkor Wat pizza at Pow Wow Pizza. All photos by Gab Chabran.
Angkor Wat pizza at Pow Wow.

Pow-Wow Pizza

4085 Atlantic Ave Unit B, Long Beach, CA 90807

[dropcap size=big]C[/dropcap]hef Maurice Yim finds his inspiration in seasonality from working in fine dining. At Pow-Wow Pizza, Yim’s pizza serves as the perfect vessel to deliver various types of cuisines without the trappings of a formal setting and still deliver the same flavors. Their signature wood-fired crust pizza boasts a variety of menu options including Cambodian, Korean, Mexican, Indian, and Filipino.

The Filipino is a standout with tender bits of sweet tasting longganisa sausage topped with a sunny side egg. The end result is better than any brunch pizza you’ve ever had and the best part is that you don’t have to wait for brunch to have it. Another great option is the Angkor pizza. It’s made with white garlic sauce as the base that pairs well with marinated ginger beef, pickled carrots, and daikon radish. It’s all topped with watercress for that slight bit of pepperiness delivered to your pallet.

A slice of Aloo Chaat from Chicago Pizza with a Twist.
A slice of Aloo Chaat from Chicago Pizza with a Twist.

Chicago Pizza with a Twist

11767 South St, Artesia, CA 90701

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]t opened just eight months ago but Chicago Pizza with a Twist has already begun to leave its mark by boasting a sizable menu of Indian-inspired pies. The style itself has long maintained its popularity in Northern California but Chicago Pizza with a Twist is quickly making it a SoCal thing, already drawing crowds from as far as the Westside to its location on the border of Cerritos and Artesia.

Upon ordering, you’ll be drawn by the aromas of regional Indian flavors mixed with freshly baked dough. Served deep-dish style, the dark crust is dusted with cornmeal and baked to perfection, coupled with bright-tasting flavors that shine through strongly.

A few standout choices are the Palak Paneer made with fresh tasting ingredients such as spinach, garlic, and green chilies whose flavors pair well with the crispy crust. Another option if you are looking to turn up the heat is Aloo Chat. Inspired by the famous Indian street food staple, this pie is made with small cubes of potatoes, fiery red sauce, fresh tasting mint, and red onions. Another star here is the creamy yet spice-tinged Tikka Masala pizza, which pairs perfectly with their complementary garlic sauce and sprinkled bits of cilantro. You almost can’t go wrong with the variety of flavors being offered.

Yellow Thai Curry Pizza with Tofu from Thai Curry Pizza.
Yellow Thai Curry Pizza with Tofu from Thai Curry Pizza.

Dean’s Thai Curry Pizza

929 Redondo Ave, Long Beach, CA 90804

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]ucked away in a small strip mall in East Long Beach, Dean’s Thai Curry Pizza is a community standard when it comes to quick and economical dining options that deliver. TCP’s crust is always baked to a pillowy perfection, taking you back to your personal pan pizza days with the perfect amount of caramelized edges where the pie meets crust.

They are known for their two signature pies. The first one is a yellow-Thai curry pizza topped with white onion and bell pepper and your choice of protein (tofu or chicken both highly recommended). The namesake pizza offers hints of spicy yet sweet tasting flavors at the same time. Not to be outshined, the Tum Yum pizza, has distinctive hot and sour notes which derive from its ingredients of lemongrass, makrut lime, fish sauce, and crushed red peppers. The Tum Yum is completed by a perfect finishing gesture — it’s topped with a fresh tomato along with bits of mushroom and generous amounts of cilantro.

A variety of slices from Sampa's Gourmet Pizza Co.
A variety of slices from Sampa's Gourmet Pizza Co.

Sampa’s Gourmet Pizza Co.

2413 Pacific Coast Hwy, Lomita, CA 90717

[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]razilian born Chef Marcus Roberto’s pizzeria Sampa’s Gourmet Pizza Co. is located in the L.A. Harbor adjacent community of Lomita, where they specialize in Brazilian-style pizza. The term Sampa is the nickname for the city of São Paulo.

There’s a rich variety of regional Brazilian flavors in the majority of Sampa’s pies, which you can get by the slice. Their São Paulo pie is topped all-natural white meat chicken and corn. It’s also comes with catupiry, a popular cheese spread from Brazil that has a similar consistency to cream cheese but with a more subtle taste. The combination of flavors, mixed with the soft baked crust makes for a little slice of heaven. Word has it, they will even bake it into the crust for you if you order a whole pie. If you are looking for more texture in your slice, the Rio De Janeiro is also made with catupiry then topped with hearts of palm for a firm and crisp bite similar to that of artichoke.

A slice of Pe Lay from Aloha Pizza.
A slice of Pe Lay from Aloha Pizza.

Aloha Pizza and Shaved Ice

1534 W Artesia Square, Gardena, CA 90248

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he city of Gardena is known for its Hawaiian population as well as plenty of tasty eats, so it makes perfect sense Aloha Pizza and Shaved Ice exists here. While pineapple on pizza remains a contentious issue, Aloha Pizza doubles down with popular favorites such as the piña-rich Pe Lay pie. Pe Lay is also topped with Hawaiian flavors like juicy bits of Portuguese sausage, along with their Goddess of fire pepperoni, bacon, and jalapeños. The combination of flavors makes for the perfect bite. The softness of cheese and crust pairs well with the picante tastes of the pepperoni and jalapeno. And the marred sweetness of island fruit hits you hard on the chill vibes.

There’s also the stellar Uncle Kalua pie, which is made with sheared bits of kalua pork cooked down (similar to carnitas), and then topped with red onion, cilantro, and mango, all expertly drizzled with BBQ sauce to provide a smoky sweetness that you will crave long after finishing.

RELATED: How These Five Pizzerias in (And Around) the San Gabriel Valley Are Changing California-Style Pizza

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