Hotel Erwin’s new walk-up window serves pizza by the slab

Venice Way Pizza at Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Ave., Venice (310) 4520-111,

By Anthony Torrise

Noel Brohner (right) is the mastermind behind Venice Way’s mouthwatering pizza slabs
Photos by Stan Lee

Nothing hits the spot quite like a classic slice, but a slice is not as exciting as the inventive slabs coming out of Venice Way Pizza, opening Monday (March 2). Neatly tucked under Hotel Erwin, this new kitchen channels the creative spirit and cosmopolitan zeitgeist of Venice Beach through the mastery of certified pizzaiolo and Slow Rise Pizza Co. founder Noel Brohner.

Cut from custom 15”-by-15” pans, Venice Way’s 5”-by-5” “slabs” are not triangular slices or round pies, but thick squares infused with the spirit of three different locales: the crunchiness of Detroit pizza’s crispy crusts, the airiness of Roman slices, and the pan-cooked delight of rectangular Sicilian-style pies.

Served from a walk-up window on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Venice Way, the pizza comes in four flavors: cheese, pepperoni, veggie and a rotating chef’s special called “The Venice Way.” Each slice packs a crunchy, chewy, gooey punch. Ingredients are fresh and locally sourced, which allows chef Brohner the chance to get creative often.

Known about town as “the pizza guy,” Brohner who’s consulted for Bestia, Republique and Venice’s own Felix) has spent years perfecting his dough recipe. The key to his slabs’ airy bite is “high hydration,” which calls for equal parts flour and water to keep the dough soft. On top of getting the measurements just right, Brohner allows his dough to ferment for three to four days to recreate the textural and aromatic qualities of sourdough.

Hotel Erwin tapped Brohner to bring Venice Way to fruition after learning that the pizzaiolo lived nearby. In the kitchen, Brohner is aided by Justin Dray and Ashley Truman — the “pint-sized powerhouse pizza maker,” as her Hotel Erwin family calls her.

“[My inspiration was] bringing people together, love for Venice, people having fun,” says Erwin Sokol, the owner and founder of Hotel Erwin, who’s been working on the idea for Venice Way over the last four years. His words rang true during a tasting preview last week. Much fun was had in the kitchen where Dray and Truman cooked up slabs with smiles, serving them on paper plates with festive red checkerboard paper.

Right now, slabs are only served at the walk-up window, but you can enjoy them al fresco on a nearby patio or inside the hotel where there is more seating. Sandwiches, salads, pizza by the pan, beer, wine and cocktails are also offered inside.