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SALAD FOR PRESIDENT

Price’s Salad Pizza with Radicchio, Arugula, Grana Padano and Roasted Shallots featured on Julia Sherman’s Salad For President.

“I am not generally  wild about pizza. Living in Brooklyn, this is unfortunate since a new upscale pizza restaurant seems to open every week in our neighborhood.  When I head to L.A., I seek out Korean food, sushi, tacos, farmer’s markets and Dim Sum; pizza and bagels are not on my radar. But, then I experienced Pizzanista! Salad Pizza, and my world turned upside down. I can say, hands down, this is the best pizza I have ever had.

Pizzanista! is in the Arts District of L.A., and is the love child of Price Latimer Agah, artist, art consultant and independent curator, and her husband Salman Agah, legendary skateboarder. Price and I share RISD as an alma mater, where we both studied photography. She has since worked for an art gallery, a furniture company, done freelance PR & graphic design, and started her own company as an art consultant and independent curator.  (And yes, she does seem to use exclusively Hermès plates, which is a CV line item in my book). All this while starting a restaurant with a cult following.

The L.A. Arts District is booming at the moment, but this husband wife team have lived in the area for 10 years. in 2010, they were looking for a way to invest in their own neighborhood, when the restaurant plan just fell serendipitously into their laps. Salman discovered an old Chinese fast food restaurant up for lease around the corner from their loft and right next door to Tony’s Saloon, a dive bar under construction to become a hip new watering hole. They had recently returned from NYC and wondered why there were so few “Pizza By the Slice” places in L.A.? And thus, recognizing that the stars had aligned in their favor, the best slice in L.A. was born.  Be warned – this is not your average Ray’s Pizza, this pie has a punk rock attitude. The logo itself is a direct reference to Sandinista!, The Clash’s fourth studio album (which has an exclamation point at the end of it). The vibe of Pizzanista! is very emphatic, as is their admiration for The Clash.”

PRICE LATIMER AGAH IN HER OWN WORDS

Julia: Tell me the story of how you got your sourdough starter, and is this the secret to your success

Price: We were educated in the art of sourdough and wild yeast cultures by our friend and mentor, Steve Samson of Sotto Restaurant. The commercial yeast that is used in most pizza dough is typically very bland and tasteless in comparison to wild yeast and lactobacilli, which give the crust a sourdough flavor.  Our specific sourdough culture is a 200-year old culture from Naples (where pizza originated).  This is definitely instrumental in setting our dough apart, plus the fact that it is made fresh, in-house, by hand each day.

Julia: Is pizza a good foundation for a marriage?

Price: Absolutely!  We both believe that food is a fundamental, pleasurable, intimate and communal experience. Cooking, eating, drinking and entertaining are an integral part of connectedness and bonding with friends and family.

Julia: How many days a week do you eat pizza?

Price: On average, 3-5.

Julia: you are a curator and art consultant as well as a Pizzauranteur (did I just coin a new term?) Do you keep those two parts of your life separate, or do you think they inform one another? This is something I think about with respect to Salad For President and my art career.

Price: There is no separation for me whatsoever.  Having been an artist and designer my whole life, and having undergone a rigorous and enlightening art school education, I simply view each project or venture with the same problem-solving perspective.  Each one is its own distinct design challenge with its own set of specific parameters. There is no difference to me in the way that I approach curating an art exhibit, building a private art collection, decorating someone’s home, painting, playing music, cooking a meal, giving a haircut, planning an event or running a restaurant.

Julia: would you consider opening a Pizzanista! in NYC? Please? Or is it really specific to L.A.? Pizzanista!

Price: Pizzanista! is not necessarily specific to L.A., though we do derive a lot of our inspiration from California culture.  We are most interested in targeting underserved markets. New York is pretty heavily saturated with amazing pizza, but anything can happen and we’d be into the idea if the right opportunity arose!

Julia: your husband Salman is a pro skateboarder. Do skateboarding and pizza go hand-in-hand

Price: Without a doubt!  Most of my skater friends are usually trying to grab something quick, easy and inexpensive, so pizza fits that bill.  But, I’m pretty sure the main reason is because pizza is an excellent accompaniment to beer.