Pizza can be ordered with gluten-free crust and toppings such as fennel roasted sausage with cumin seed, fenugreek, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and torn basil at Pitfire Artisan Pizza in Mar Vista. Photo by Dawn Garcia

Picture driving down Washington Boulevard in Mar Vista. Now picture a bright red warehouse-like building with a white flame painted on the side of it that displays one phrase: Pitfire Artisan Pizza. It’s a building that begs your curiosity – welcome to a new kind of pizza.

I walked in unsure of what to expect and well, it’s a cross between an upscale cafeteria setting and an urban, sustainable brick and mortar. The tables are all made of natural woods; aluminum accents the wood (or supernatural alloy – I still haven’t decided), and red – RED – painted walls.

As you enter, there is a curious table with DJ equipment and earphones dangling on the side (perplexing until you get to come in at night and eat pizza while groovin’ to some pretty incredible tunes) – this is not your run-of-the-mill pizza joint.

The daily specials range, but on the menu one recent day is something that caught my eye: escarole salad. Sure it sounds like an easy dish, but this was not a mere plate full of lettuce. Abundant in tangy flavors from the dressing, the crisp freshness of the escarole, the sharp cut of shaved parmesan, and the surprising twist of cashews – this is a salad worth licking the plate for.

Now on to the pizza. First of all, I ordered the gluten-free crust because it’s always an interesting challenge to make gluten-free taste edible. The pizza is topped with fennel roasted sausage with cumin seed, fenugreek, tomato sauce, mozzarella, torn basil, and has a crisp crust. The first bite is amazing. The flavors marry together like a happy honeymoon to make this anything but a boring pizza.

That said, having black on the fingers from the char of the pizza oven wasn’t the highlight (not for me). Still, the flavors! The perfectly cooked sausage is what stole the show.

Pitfire is not average or predictable. In fact, the decor celebrates an unusual love of nature with a mock “greenhouse” as the patio ambiance and open floors inside that must be packed once the DJ gets going.

Pitfire is great for going out with friends for a good brew, wine, some homemade sangria (it seems everyone serves sangria these days – when did that become the “it” drink?), and bottled beverages. It is not for those looking for a quiet night. This is a lively stop that is appropriate for those of all ages.

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