Purgatory Pizza in Boyle Heights

Large cheese and mushroom pizza $14.50

The other day I was talking to my buddies from the Bus Bench and the subject of pizza came up. They seemed like connoisseurs on the subject, so I asked what their favorite pizza was and they both said “Purgatory Pizza!” I’d never heard of it. I imagined it would be in a neighborhood I probably don’t visit much and catering to New Yorkers or something but they said the place was in Boyle Heights.
Boyle Heights???
“On First St. near Mariachi Plaza.” Hmmm, it’s not that I didn’t believe them or anything but I had to see for myself. I drive through that area quite often (Boyle Ave between Cesar Chavez and Whittier is one of my favorite streets in Los Angeles) so on my next trip I found the pizza place – right in the heart of Aliso-Pico!

The next week I decided I was ready to give this pizza a try. I called up the place and first asked about their delivery area:

P.P.: Purgatory Pizza
Me:  Do you deliver to Lincoln Heights? [it’s far I didn’t expect them too]
P.P.: No…
Me: Okay, where do you deliver too? [I needed the info for this post, y’know]
P.P.: uh….
Me: Downtown?
P.P.: yeah
[something about this exchange started to feel strange at this point and a little flick of realization made me say...]
Me: Do you deliver to Boyle Heights?
P.P.: Ummm…some parts…
Me: Some parts? [I start laughing] You guys don’t like Boyle Heights or something? [I say this jokingly]
P.P.: Haha, that’s just what I’m told [I guess he gets these questions often]
Me: Okay

The poor guy sounded like an Eastside local and I could tell he felt uncomfortable so I didn’t want to make things hard for him. It’s obvious they cater to the downtown neighborhood (their website says “just blocks east of downtown Los Angeles”) and probably found a cheap location on the Eastside just over the bridge. I won’t imply too much about my exchange, I seem to get in a lot of trouble when I do that. You all are free to think what you will.
(please see response/clarification from owner Kelley below)

I ordered my cheese pizza with mushrooms and headed over to pick it up. Both the interior and exterior have a Basquiat/New York-y vibe with bright colors and text running up the walls. There are a few tables for dining in, it smells heavenly inside so eating there is a good option. The woman who took my money seemed overly nervous and/or frazzled, perhaps they were very busy. If they were busy, it didn’t affect the quality of the pizza because I have to say (and these things are subjective, I know) the pizza was amazing! The Busbenchers were right, absolutely excellent!

The crust was thin and crispy, the sauce super flavorful and just the right amount of cheese. No rubbery mushrooms either. It’s much better than Casa Bianca and that New York style pizza place on Colorado. I’ve been wanting to eat one of these pizzas every night since I first tried it a couple of weeks ago but I’ve managed to control myself. Maybe it’s good they don’t deliver to Lincoln Heights!

Purgatory Pizza
1326 East 1st Street
Los Angeles CA 90033
(323) 262-5310
Open everyday 6-11pm
Free Delivery

See Bus Bench Blog’s take on Two Boots Pizza in the Metro area of Echo Park.

36 thoughts on “Purgatory Pizza in Boyle Heights

  1. All we eat is pizza, it’s pretty wrong. We eat pizza literally every day. We have tasted virtually every pizza in the LA area.

    When we went to Two Boots we ordered three different pizzas, they probably thought we were insane.

    We do taste tests. We go and order a cheese slice when they just open to see how long it takes and the consistency of it, we also try to stop in right before closing to see if they serve fresh slices all day. You serve us a bad slice at closing we will ban you, because really if you are open you should still be making fresh pies.

    Purgatory is delicious. Purgatory is better than Two Boots. And the places they do deliver, it’s real weird you would call and seven minutes later they would be there with a fresh perfect pie, like they were transported there through some special laser beam.


  2. Homegirl Quarry girl thinks the place is in Downtown LA.

    Thanks Browne for the tip, it really is one of the best pizzas I’ve eaten since…I can remember. Maybe I can convince them that I live in Downtown if I say I’m in the same neighborhood as The Brewery! πŸ˜‰
    BTW, you two certainly don’t look like you eat pizza everyday! I’m jealous! Damn genetics!

  3. My spam word was eat beans haha πŸ˜‰ for more than a year now I always thought that place was closed !!!! Serio. I would pass by on my way into downtown skating and it was always closed. I’m gonna give them a try. Thanks for the tip C.

  4. Holy shit.

    I feel my life about to get better by alot. Teese?! I don’t know of any restaurant in L.A. using Teese. I mean, probably someone is but it’s probably on the OTHER side of town and it’s probably at a place that is too expensive for me or where I’ll get looked at funny for not being tall and all yoga-ified and flat. I’ve had a pizza with Teese in the Bay Area, and it was delicious, I can’t wait to try this place.

    LHeros, let me know if you ever want to carpool over there into *downtown* (HA!) for pizza!

  5. pitbullgirl,
    I just got back from “just blocks east of downtown” aka Boyle Heights to pick up a pie, I guess I should have paged LH to see if anybody wanted anything! πŸ˜‰ Pizza party plans are in the works!

    Thanks for the post Chimatli, the pizza is pretty good. And you wouldn’t believe who I ran into at Purgatory tonight: our very own City Terrace, ordering a vegan pizza! They ought to give you some free coupons or something.

  6. We should have an LA Eastside Twitter thing to see when someone is near El Gallo, or Al & Bea’s or Purgatory Pizza so you can bring something over De Volada πŸ™‚

    I’m gonna try this place! Thanks for the tip. I remember when one of the best Eastside Pizza joints was RED DEVIL over on Garfield north of Riggin.

    Hey Browne! Have you had the Bruce Lee Pizza at Los Angeles Pizza Company on Fig?

  7. Oh man, that pizza is rigodamnediculous! That teese-please cheese was just what i needed on a sunday night. Vegan pizza and watching magicians on google, cmon, how fun is that?

    El Chavo,
    Yup, you can bump into all kinds of folks at that place, especially in that nebulous area called “east of downtown.”

    Their hours, 6-11, are mainly for delivery purposes, but homey said that will change when the school opens across the street, guy was surprised when I told him, it might open 9/09 instead of 9/10. What school do you go to? “Oh, ‘East of Downtown High.'”

    Last time I checked Roosevelt High was also “East of Downtown” and guy said they would deliver there, so tip of the cap to him.

    So, I just dusted off a medium with olive and shrooms, with ease. That crust is thin and not to be tossed out, it actually is part of the pizza, unlike other impostors. I just wished this place was in East L.A. or even Boyle Heights, too bad they are way out there in some place called “east of downtown.” haha

  8. I always wondered about that place since it opened, recently I noticed the only entrance was thru the parking lot and there were white folks there, so I thought it might be a work in progress.

    And props to AlDesmadre for noting red devil, I actually worked there. The pizza is still bomb, but I know the owner personally and he is a spoiled idiot so I dont go there as much as my tastebuds would like. Usually I go to Petrillos now, or Gina’s on beverly.

  9. The guy who owns PP works in the back- it’s a machine and metal shop. i think he’s been there about 10 years. He’s got a collection of awesome motorcycles that are all in various stages of being fixed up. I’m sure you could stick your head in and say hi, he’s really nice.

    PP used to be a bakery up front but it never really made ends meet. I’m glad PP is doing well.

    I’ve got a meeting with him this week, so I’ll yell at him for this not delivering to the Eastside nonsence, and see if we can get some action. I would love some PP to come to Lincoln Heights!

  10. HAY! We deliver to the eastside!!!! Not sure who ya talked to on the phone, (I’m the nervous frazzled woman, the guy in the shop in the back is my partner in the place,) but yeah, we go east. Thing is…we are VERY mom n’ pop. No computers or high tech fanciness so when you call…it may take us a moment to figure out if you are in our delivery area. We go pretty far though. VERY GLAD you liked the pizza! We are SO busy lately…glad all that shows that is my nerves πŸ˜‰ and not the product.

    Thank you for the review and Browne…I’d LOVE to hear from you!

    If any of you come by, ask if Kelley is there as say “hi”.

  11. Hi Kelley, Thanks for the clarification and apologies for any insinuations. Maybe it was super busy when I first called and that’s why there was some hesitation about delivery areas. As I said before, I didn’t expect you all to deliver to Lincoln Heights as it is a good 3-4 miles from 1st street.
    Anyways, so glad you are around and have a vegan menu cause there are a good number of vegans East of the River that will keep you all busy.
    Thanks for commenting and for the delicious pizza!

  12. Since all I could think about was pizza since reading this post mere hours ago…

    The pizza was good, I forsee many more of them in my future. I think we accidently got the diablo sauce though. I like spicy but not on pizza but even so it was still really good. It’s a pretty quick trip from LH and I like that they have coupons! I will proudly use them next time, which will probably be very soon. I bet us LAeastsiders will be running into each other there all the time now!

  13. I am definitely going there mañana!!! And as far as twitter goes, maybe we could mark things with “#LAEastside” so that folks can search & find it

  14. “A hashtag is just a short character string preceded by a hash sign (#). This effectively tags your tweets Ò€” allowing people to easily find and aggregate tweets related to the event being covered.”


    We should promote the use of the “#LAEastside” hashtag in twitter.

  15. Purgatory has excellent pizza. I had their Diablo sin queso – not because I’m lactose but because I repulse cheese.
    It’s definitely not a dine-in spot. The first and last time I ate inside was last August with two friends. Their seats were covered in dust and cobwebs. Not to knock the joint, it’s just that it might be true that very few people, if any, dine in there. Most of their business comes from deliveries to downtown.
    It’s an awesome space that has the potential to be a central spot for hipsters, however, I doubt that it will happen because for the most part, hipsters don’t like biking on main streets that don’t at least have an American Apparel. And most BHts residents would opt for a $5 pizza from Little Cesar’s in their more prime location, next to Food4Less.
    The artist who painted their walls is Louis Cannizzaro (www.powderfrench.com), an LA/Hollywood-based artist, of whom I am a fan. PP’s owner is friends with him, hence the cool artwork. I think Basquiat is much too much of a compliment. I would compare Cannizzaro’s style to that of a simple-minded, free-flow 2nd grader whose parents are hippies. His little book collection of some of his art, Have Faith, melted my heart.

  16. Al,

    I have been to the LA Pizza Co, I don’t remember trying the Bruce Lee. Keep in mind I am vegetarian and tend not to order pizza even sans the meat that are supposed to have meat on it, though that might open up my pizza options… Possible BusTard has sneaked some. He will eat pepperoni when I’m not around.

    This post is making me hungry for Purgatory Pizza.


  17. chimatli – no need to apologize! Our delivery area is a little screwy. I’m not sure where you live exactly, so can not say if you are in it or not. We’ve been going through a bit of growing pains as it has suddenly gone from a sleepy little place to one that is very busy, without yet having staff adjusted. We are getting this together though!

    We’ve had dine in customers nightly as of late, any of you who would like to try this I promise that there are no cob webs or mess up front. We did used to be all delivery but not any more. πŸ™‚

    Anyone interested in how the vegan pizza is should read this.


    Thanks for posting about us!!!

  18. Seeing that they deliver to Roosevelt got me excited for a minute. It’s too bad the hours are only after 6pm. Roosevelt consumes a pretty large quantity of pizza: the Little Caesar’s Hot ‘n Ready, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and the occasional gigante from La Pizza Loca. It would be good to have a better-tasting option. Maybe on our next deadline night.

  19. “Twittering? This is the Eastside. We still use beepers.”

    Hey- I still remember when we’d just go outside & communicate with each other with loud whistlings. (I usually got called with a whistled melody that sounded like the “shave & a haircut” tune.)

  20. This is where restaurant/bakery Cake Walk was. Whereas the Gold Line construction killed Cake Walk’s business, the soon-to-be-opened Gold Line could be a boom for Purgatory’s.

    I’m looking forward to taking the Gold Line there from Highland Park. Tho, I don’t think I’d carry a pie back with me. The smell and sight of pizza on the train causes lots of hungry stares from fellow riders.

  21. Just the other day my sis came over and was asking if there was any good pizza joints around. In San pedro we had a couple of really good mom and pop one’s but I was not sure about the ones around here but thanks for the review and 411 on this spot

  22. The cobwebs and the surprised expressions from the staff to dine-in customers gave the place character, I thought. Could’ve been a Seinfeld episode. But change doesn’t hurt =)
    Pues, Orale PP!!

  23. Mr. Gertner, I would bet that purgatory pizza would bend over backwards for a large account like Roosevelt HS. Most small mom n’ pop stores are very more than willing to extend their hours or make off hour deliveries for such big and important customers such as a local highschool. If they dont, my old pizza job would deliver to Garfield and Wilson Highschools despite the restaraunt being located in the southwest edge of Monterey Park, they are called Red Devil (or I think Joe’s Pizza now, they changed names) and their pizza is excellent. RHS is like a 5 minute dive down the 60 from there, but I’d think you’d want to spend cash in-community.

    I hope they do stay open long enopugh to service the HS across the street and goldline users.

  24. I just picked up one, Dante’s Inferno, thinking it was “gringo” hot, but it is the real deal. It makes your scalp tingle. I think it is good, but Vittoria’s in Alhambra has a bit more choices.

  25. @ Chimatli

    I am boarderline Downtown and Echo Park near 2nd and Lucas or I guess boarderline Historic Flipinotown but I heard it was not really that before from a few cats who grew up in the area and thier parents and grandparents who also grew up in the area said there was more of a black community for a min. They been in the area prob like 50 years ..okay am getting off topic sorry

  26. I’m glad to hear someone mentioned Vittoria’s in Alhambra. Their pizza is delicious. Also try Tarantino’s in Pasadena on Green if you are in the area. I can’t wait to try PP.

  27. Dona Junta,
    Now you have me intrigued about your neighborhood name. I’ll try and do some research.
    My family is in Historic Filipinotown too but I never heard them use the name since it is fairly new.

  28. I usually get the tickets through goldstar.com. I only pay $10 as opposed to the normal $20. Then I only need a few extra bucks for a couple cheap beers to enjoy during the bout. πŸ™‚

    If the game does not sell out a week prior to the event, check goldstar.

  29. purgatory’s got vegan chicken and vegan sausage now — just in case that was keepin anyone away.

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