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Echo Park

Meet the Raza Pizzaiolo Making Silver Lake’s Viral Parking Lot Pizza From a Pickup Truck

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]t was only a matter of time until it happened: a pizza stand inspired by a taco stand in the streets of Los Angeles. 

The elements were ripe for a phenomenon like Eleodoro Lopez’s woodfired pizza (anglicized as “Elio”): street food finally became legalized in L.A. last year and food media flocked to the latest and greatest regional taquero or other pop-ups offerings like pho and mango and sticky rice in the streets. Add an outstanding pizza for $10 in the mix and you get the kind of greatness beckons the cliché phrase that we are all guilty of overusing, “Only in L.A.”

“I saw this parking lot and thought, ‘aqui se puede,’ Lopez tells L.A. Taco as it starts to get dark out and a line starts to form for his pizzas.

Eleodoro Lopez

Originally from Guatemala, the 30-year-old raza pizzaiolo started as a dishwasher and did the prestigious Italian restaurant circuit in Los Angeles for 13 years, working at places like Cecconi’s, Rossopomodoro, and Eataly. He pooled his money to buy a pizza oven from Italy and go DIY. “I got tired of working for people,” says the street entrepreneur. He doesn’t speak English, so he lets his almond wood-toasted pizzas do all the talking. He’s been open since May last year. For all of you pizza snobs, he uses Caputo’s 00 flour. 

His line is stripped down to the bare minimum needed to make a worthwhile pie. His sauce is simple. His crust is charred enough to make a stunning photo to post on Instagram but also chewy enough to eat it all and not leave any pizza bones behind. He started to offer burrata as a premium topping recently, but his unpretentious approach to everyone’s favorite food at one time or another is what makes his pizza uniquely great. Unlike other pop-up food vendors, his food is approachable by both Silver Lake’s old school and new school residents. 

“I’ve been here twice this week already,” says one of his customers who lives in Echo Park, in Spanish. My son has autism and he is very picky, but he loves this pizza. Yes, it’s a little more expensive than what I’m used to spending on pizza, but it’s worth it for the char and crust.” While many of Lopez’s customers are people who flocked here after Insider made a video about Elio’s Woodfire Pizza, a lot of his customers are residents from the neighborhood and others who live nearby. 

Lopez wants to eventually add flavors from his heritage to his pizzas, to make things like carne asada and salsa pizzas on his worthwhile crust. But for now, he’s focusing on keeping it traditional and approachable. 

“I just want to keep working and get better at what I do.”    

Elio's Woodfire Pizza is at 2517 sunset boulevard, Los Angeles. 90026. Monday to Sunday from 6 PM to 11 PM.

Update on 1/19/19: L.A. Taco has been notified that Elio's Woodfired Pizza was shut down last Friday night. Please follow their Instagram account for updates when they are back up and running again.  

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