Margarita Pizza Bar: Does It Live Up To Its Name?
Despite looking merely ordinary on the outside, when I walked into Margarita I viewed a cool atmosphere. There were mini tables and family style booths. The bar with the draft beers and endless bottles of wine in sight seemed like a college student’s dream. Being able to have a great view of the kitchen was a very interesting experience, since getting to watch pizza chefs whip up the pies is rather exciting. The only problem with the setting was the fact that the music was drowned out by the loud chatter of the diners. However, what can you expect from college students and families openly buzzing about the debut of Margarita tonight? The ambiance in the restaurant was delightful, with the diners happy and ready to enjoy their meal.
When I received the menu from my waiter, I was immediately overwhelmed with how many options were on the menu. While I expected the place to have more options than a regular pizza joint, I was surprised to see the variance in the menu. They offered cheese, meat, and vegetable platters, along with several choices of bread and small plates. While I did not order any small plates, a couple of them caught my eye like the Lobster Shepard’s Pie and the Crispy Eggplant Meatballs. They also had a create your own salad option for the people that can’t get enough of their greens. They also had numerous choices for pasta, paninis, entrees, and burgers, however since it was my first time here, I solely wanted to try the pizza.
Not knowing if it was first day jitters or not, it was unfortunate that my waiter wasn’t as knowledgeable as I expected. I originally asked if I could split my personal brick oven pizza into two separate kinds. He said that I could not, and after I made my original order, he came back around five minutes later telling me I can split up my personal pizza. However, once I asked what kind of cheese was on the mushroom pizza I was also originally interested in, he had to find a menu to look it up. Deciding to be bold and to get several unique tastes into one personal pizza pie, I decided to go with half mushroom pizza and half burrata pizza.
The mushroom pizza consisted of mushrooms, goat cheese, and truffle oil while the burrata pizza was made with burrata cheese, tomato sauce, prosciutto, and ramps (type of leek). Before I got to experience the pizza, Margarita provided me with two pieces of bread to start off. The bread was a kind of white bread, and disappointingly it was not warm. It was doughy and soft though, it reminded me quite a bit of a biscuit. The olive oil was a nice touch as it added a little zing to the bread.
Then, my pizza came out. The first thing I noticed was how the goat cheese on my mushroom pizza was not completely melted. However, once I dug in, the truffle oil immediately took control of my mouth. The mushrooms had a meaty consistency, and the goat cheese had enough of a distinct flavor to give me a nice balance of taste and texture. The crust was thin and crispy, yet I felt its simplicity only added to the pizza. Then there was the burrata pizza. While I thought the delicate burrata cheese pairing with the crunchy ramps was an interesting contrast, the tomato sauce’s taste was merely ordinary. I thought it could have used additional seasoning and that it should have impacted the flavor of the pizza more. The sauce simply did not have a distinct or powerful flavor. The prosciutto was tasty and sweet, but there could have been less of it on the pizza and more burrata, because the burrata cheese was fantastic.
Throughout my meal, several people on the staff came up to me asking how my pizza was. It seemed like they genuinely wanted to know how my experience was eating at their restaurant. And while the pizza did fill me up, it certainly did empty my wallet. I thought that the personal pizza price being set at fifteen dollars (the prices goes from eleven dollars to sixteen) was a little steep, and most of the items on the menu seem a little expensive for a college student.
Overall, this meal was certainly above average and I would recommend that USC students and Los Angeles locals give the place a try. I think a proper comparison to Margarita would be Bottega Louie without the extensive bakery. While it obviously can’t compare to New York pizza, it was certainly better than most of the pizza that I’ve had out here (and certainly better than student favorites Pizza Hut and Papa John’s). However, to get a good dining option right at Gateway is a win in any USC student’s book. I will certainly be making my trip back to test out the other sections of the menu as well. Margarita Pizza Bar will be a success for years to come and a great place to hang out with your friends and enjoy some quality food near USC.
Reach Max here.