There's a fondness in my heart for pizzerias. Having spent a good chunk of my high school experience working in one, I've come to appreciate the simple menu of a family-owned pizza shop. Every so often, however, it's pretty cool to see one taking an innovative turn with their menu. Case in point, a ramen pizza.
Nestled in a corner of uptown Whittier, Calif., between a tattoo parlor and a bar, lies a mom and pop pizzeria. Marco Polo Pizza has been on the block for 25 years. It was only recently that Joshua Chung, son of the pizza owners, decided to take a shot and expand the menu by one item. You guessed it, the "Foodbeast Ramen Pizza".
Chung recently began making novelty pizzas for his friends during the store's slower hours, of those experimental pies was the ramen pizza. Chung's friends happened to be avid readers of Foodbeast and egged him to send us some pics of his creation.
It was a Monday morning when my publisher forwarded me those pictures. Now you don't work at Foodbeast without seeing your share of ramen-inspired dishes. Yet this was by far one of the most drool-worthy attempts at a ramen pizza we'd ever seen. I had to try it.
Marco Polo was nice enough to open their doors a little early so we could sneak a peak at the process of making a ramen pizza.
It starts with a simple package of instant ramen. Usually any will do, Josh told me.
The ramen is broken in half vertically so the noodles make a thin, flat bed. They're then dipped on one side and soaked in the store's freshly-made pizza sauce for a few seconds.
When some sauce just barely seeps through the other side, it's time to apply a generous coat of mozzarella cheese. A few choice pieces of pepperoni (or whatever toppings you want) are added and the pizza is ready to fly into the oven.
Since it's not pizza dough, Chung has to keep an eye on the pizzas in case they burn. When the cheese turns a golden brown, the pizza's ready.
Fresh from the oven, my nose was filled with the heartwarming aroma of melted cheese, pizza sauce and instant noodles. Biting into it, the ramen crust was crispy on the outside but since it absorbed the tomato sauce, its inner layer was soft. Perfection. No seasoning was needed for the noodles as the sauce did the trick flavor-wise.
While the pizza seems relatively simple to make, you'd have to get it at Marco Polo to really understand what I'm talking about. The sauce is the key to this dish... and my heart.
So the next time you're in Southern California, swing by Marco Polo Pizza and ask for the Foodbeast Ramen Pizza. Check 'em out at 12911 Philadelphia St, Whittier, CA 90601. You're welcome.