Best Slice, Brew, and Salad Spots
There's a lot of pizza in Long Beach. Picking a top spot is usually a matter of convenience, taste, and customer service. Since I try to eat healthy and not over-indulge, when I go for pizza, I'm usually a slice guy - and I value a good salad to balance the heavy fats. And while I don't always have a beer, well, great options about - so here's a glutenous list of my favorite slice+beer+salad spots across town!
Why has Rance's become my go-to spot? Let me count the ways. Their house salad is a reliably fresh and crisp mix of greens that goes beyond ice berg (gimme that raddichio, yo!), their mozzarella is impeccable and loaded in the salad, the ranch is thick as you could hope for.
When it comes to the slice, I didn't realize there was a such a gaping hole in my life until I remembered how good Chicago style pizza can be. The crust resembles a dessert pie with its flaky thickness, the cheese melds deliciously into the crust, and the house made secret tomato chunk sauce that goes on top is infused with black peppery delight. And, considering the cost of a pie at Rance's is upwards of $30, a $4-5 slice that will always be hot and fresh, filling, and never dried out, is a great value. I haven't forgotten their beer selection - you can get pints or even larger pours of most of their 30+ taps. On my last visit, I got to try Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown. Nuff said! 2) Pizzanista
While Pizzanista's pies are best served fresh and split with friends, and perhaps even loaded with fresh arugala, they do keep a heavy rotation of slices ready to serve, and a good variety of cold beers in the fridge with a couple standards (Stone IPA and Pabst) on tap.
My go-to slices are the white pizza and the Sicilian (which almost comes in on par with Rance's excellence), and the always satisfying Swami's IPA or, for a lighter and smaller can, Mexican Logger, both pair pretty well with either or both slice. The white pizza experience includes fresh ricotta, and requires that you drizzle a bit of honey on the crust. They also have other great toppings like nutritional yeast and oregano.
Those Pizzanista salads are not to be overlooked - the 1/2 arugala salad gives me a much needed infusion greens. I love that their slices are always savory and made with high quality ingredients, but never seem to be overly salty or greasy.
Milana's is a truly legit NY-style slice shop. The LBPost reported last year that they served up over 625k pies in their first 6 years. They also boast a super authentic menu that goes far beyond the slice, from lasagna to calzones. Their beer selection is somewhat rotating bottles, plenty of IPA's and some locals like Hangar 24. I usually go for pepperoni, though I prefer vegetarian options at the above establishments - because it's tough to pass up when you're doing the NY thing. If you're lucky, you'll catch Adriel, the owner, who's often behind the counter. Also, if you're hard up for a late night slice, their hours also tend to be later than other establishments, with walk-up service till 10:30pm or later. (Note: I've since been informed about a couple other NY style shops that were not on my radar, so I'll be excited to check them out soon. I doubt either will outrank Milana's, though).
Since I teach at LBCC, sometimes I need a quick fix nearby after classes are through. Village Road never disappoints. I recommend getting a slice with mushrooms, which are sauteed on the spot with some kind of magic elixir (butter and oil?). Their beer selection includes 5-7 taps, with some standards like Modelo, some local beers, and of course them IPA's. If only they had some farmhouse style or medium body craft beers more regularly, and if the salad was a little less basic, they might rank higher. Their staff are down to earth and down to chat, and the locals tend to be really working class and sociable at their bar seating. Pop in for a soccer game, and you're sure to stay for more than a few minutes. Hungry yet?