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Dining Out:Dino's mixes great crust, fresh toppings

June 16, 2007|By Christine Putnam

When it comes to great pizza, it is all about the crust. Forget sauce recipes and mozzarella cheese. Perfect pizza begins with the dough, like fine wine builds on the right grapes. One soggy crust and you end up with toppings and sauce all over your lap. And what's worse than an over-baked crust that crunches like a mouthful of croutons?

The great pizza debate between New York and Chicago has nothing to do with toppings. Chicago says the crust must be almost as thick as a loaf of French bread. New Yorkers insist that the crust has to be thin and so pliable you can fold a slice in half lengthwise to eat it.

Better get Chicago and New York on the phone. I have had my share of both types of pizza in their native cities but I have to admit that Dino's Pizza in Burbank tops them both.

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Dino's has crust that will make those mid-West and East Coast pizzerias stop and drop their dough. This hand-tossed dough is legendary. The crust has a rich olive oil flavor with a texture that balances between crunchy and chewy.

As soon as I walked into Dino's Pizza, the sweet smells of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and dough made me feel like I was back in Chicago. But here, it is all about "made in California."

The homemade pizzas and pastas use locally grown ingredients. The greens and herbs come from Ventura County. The sausage is from a local producer. Even the mozzarella cheese is 100% California made. The homemade sauces, tomato, pesto and marinara, are all rich and perfect companions to their pizza and pasta dishes.

The choice of toppings reminds you this is not New York. All of those West Coast favorites like goat cheese, pine nuts and barbecue chicken are on the menu at Dino's. In fact, just about every topping you can imagine seems to be on the menu. There are nine choices of meat, 21 different vegetables and herbs and seven types of cheese. Even the traditional tomato sauce can be switched to pesto sauce or extra virgin olive oil.

I like the specialty pizzas. The thin-crust pesto chicken pizza, covered with artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes, chicken and mozzarella with pesto sauce, was a hit with my friends, who usually stick with the traditional pepperoni or sausage pizzas. The soft toppings with the crisp crust were a perfect combination of flavors and textures.

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