Rockin' out with awesome pizza in Moorpark
By Ron Russ 11/14/2013
Redballs Rock and Roll Pizza
13816 Princeton Ave.
$2.50 - $24.99
Moorpark just woke up from a deep slumber with a face-melting guitar riff known as Rock and Roll Pizza. I walked into the restaurant and immediately thought, “Where the heck am I?” This feels like a rock venue on the Sunset Strip and has enough memorabilia to be an extension of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Is Moorpark ready for this?” I thought to myself before engaging in that exact discussion later with David Vieira — the owner, head chef and the man that embodies the Rock and Roll lifestyle in every way.
Frustrated that he couldn’t get a decent slice of pizza in the valley where he lived, Vieira teamed up with Elliot Easton, lead singer of the band The Cars, and said “Screw it, let’s open our own.” Their first location was in Woodland Hills with an adjoining Redballs clothing store. When Chuy’s left its location on Princeton Avenue in Moorpark, however, Vieira got the call from a friend telling him he had to check it out. Seeing the layout and the potential, Vieira packed up and took advantage of the opportunity to bring Rock and Roll to Moorpark. Things got real for me when Vieira pointed to the full rock band stage and said, “Yeah, the guys from the Foo Fighters just performed here on Friday night.” I almost spit my beer in his face when he so nonchalantly mentioned how big-time bands would come to his place, grab some pizzas and rock out for a few songs here and there. Apparently you never know when they’ll show up, but if you “like” them on Facebook, Vieira explains that he’ll put the word out online so the crowds can rush in.
I could go on and on about the attitude and the rock and roll of this place, but I’m getting hungry. And first, I have to vent about the term New York-style pizza and how it gets thrown around so much in California. It wouldn’t be so bad if 90 percent of the time it wasn’t a total joke. Just because a pizza has tomato sauce and it’s thin-crust, doesn’t mean it’s New York-style. In fact, the only way it could be considered “New York” would be if you imported all of your ingredients from the East Coast, assembled the pizza properly with the right balance of flour and yeast, had a killer sauce and a screaming-hot oven to achieve that perfect char and crispness on the bottom of the pie. Drinking a pitcher of locally brewed Enegren IPA, I was able to put owner Vieira on trial.
“It’s not New York ‘style’ pizza. It’s New York pizza. All of our dough is shipped in from New Jersey and our factory is in New York,” explained Vieira with unshakable confidence. All of the pizzas are made to order and they come out piping hot, with a thin and charred crust from the 850-degree pizza oven. I’m excited just writing this because you have no idea how good this pizza actually is.
I started with “The Original Manhattan Cheese Pie.” It was everything I hoped it would be. The red sauce was perfect with rich tomato flavor and subtle herbs. There was the exact ratio of cheese to crust that you would expect from a Manhattan slice. The crust had that perfect crunch, but the dough still had enough elasticity so that you could fold it up like a taco.
My group got into a heated foosball match that could only be diffused by more pizza slamming down on the table. This time we got two half-orders so we could try it all. The first was a half-order of the Brooklyn Pie with pepperoni, sausage and meatballs. The other half was the Rockaway Beach pie with pepperoni and pineapple. The Brooklyn pie was the pizza of the night for me. Rich, peppery, salty pork product atop the mouthwatering cheesy goodness underneath — fuggedaboutit! The Beach pie was solid because the pineapple was an accompaniment; the pie wasn’t slathered with it and dripping with sweet pineapple juice as most bad pineapple pizzas are. The second pizza was the rock concert in my mouth. It was half “Baja 1000” and half “Mama Leah’s Bronx White Pie.” The Baja brought some unexpected flavors as it was topped with pasilla chiles, bell peppers, jalapeños, serranos, onions and cilantro. It packed a spicy punch, but beyond that the flavor was incredible. The cilantro and charred onions played well in the sandbox with the peppers and chiles. Plus, this is the type of pizza that reminds you that you need to drink more cold beer, always a bonus. The White pie is a classic with mozzarella, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms, in a marsala wine, garlic and olive oil. It was rich and creamy, with some tasty garlic and earthy spinach. I don’t think you can go wrong with any pizza at this place.
By the end of the night, I was already making plans with friends to return and catch some live music and eat another four pizzas. Do yourselves a favor, Moorpark. Get out that old leather jacket you’ve been hiding in the closet; you know the one I’m talking about. Dust it off, and grab a real NY pie and open your ears to the familiar sounds of the Ramones because Moorpark just got a much-needed dose of Rock and Roll.