Damiano Mr. Pizza

damiano

The last remaining outlet of Damiano Mr. Pizza closed unexpectedly at the end of May.  Mitchell Kitay, the owner, told the press that he was forced out by the owners of the restaurant Animal, which had purchased the building two years ago.  Whatever the reason, suddenly there was no more Damiano Mr. Pizza.

To the best of my knowledge, there were once three…this one, on Fairfax across from Canter’s; another one on Robertson two blocks south of Pico and the one I first visited, which was on Pico near Westwood.  It was in a corner building that had previously been the original location of Junior’s Delicatessen and is now a Maria’s Italian Kitchen.  The places were known variously as Damiano’s, Mr. Pizza and Damiano’s Mr. Pizza.  I’d always assumed someone named Damiano bought a pizzeria that was already named Mr. Pizza and just tacked his name on the way a woman named Ruth bought the Chris Steak House and added her name to it.  But that was just speculation.  I don’t know if Mr. Kitay was the founder but perhaps someone who posts in the comments section will.

What I do know is that Damiano offered the closest thing to “New York Italian” I ever found in Los Angeles.  The pizza was good — a bit greasy and a bit salty but quite tasty.  Even better were the pasta dishes, especially anything with their slow-cooked meat sauce on it.  I frequented all three outlets before the first two closed.

The one on Fairfax opened in ’64 and quickly became an institution in the area.  It stayed open (and delivered!) until 6 AM…7 AM on weekends, which came in handy at times.  In addition to great Italian food and beverages, the delivery guys could also bring you cigarettes…and one of their delivery guys told me once that at 5 AM, it was not unusual for someone to call up for a few cartons of Marlboro’s and then say, “While you’re at it, have him bring a pizza too.”  Most of the delivery folks seemed like homeless people with cars and one friend of mine used to tip them extra to stop at the CVS Pharmacy and bring medicines or candy, as well.  It was the one place at that hour you could phone and get someone to do that kind of thing for you.

damiano02.

I often got deliveries from Damiano Mr. Pizza but around 1990, I stopped actually going into the restaurant.  It was just too dilapidated, crowded and a little dirty.  I assume they fixed it up after that — they would have had to — but the shabby surroundings diminished my love of their chow.  It was though fun to watch the one guy on the phone juggling ten orders at once, hopping from one call on hold to another.  There was one period there where I stopped ordering from them because the orders were always incorrect when they arrived…but after a year or so, I finally missed their food enough to give them another try and the first and all subsequent orders were right.  You can imagine how much I’m going to miss them now.  Mr. Kitay says he hopes to reopen in another location and I hope he does…but I’ll still miss the place on Fairfax.  Even after I stopped setting foot inside, I was glad it was there…and delivering.

75 Responses to Damiano Mr. Pizza

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Adam,
    Thank you so much for your post here a couple of days ago. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    It brings a big smile to my face when I read the posts and see how many loyal customers we had. January 31st will make 29 years that my father Damiano Albanese passed away.

    I want to thank management as well, by doing the right thing and deleting the wrong information that a few bad apples had posted.
    From my post on Jan. 27th, there are a couple of videos of my father from the 80’s when he was on Regis Philbin. Make sure you watch tape 1 first then watch tape 2.
    I will keep everyone posted, if and when a new location opens.
    Thank you for all the support and kind words.
    God Bless

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Management:
    Nice comment minus Irving as owner..

    Jimmy Mallon says:
    January 22, 2017 at 11:21 pm
    Laura: Your dad’s restaurant was the best. I frequented Damianos for 20yrs. Great pizza w a great NY flavor. Mitch n Irving were great owners. Great alternative to Canters.

  • The Management says:

    Okay…for the first time, I have vetoed the posting of several messages that people (actually, one or two guys under different names) attempted to post here to keep a flame war going. I also went back and deleted a number of previous messages. Laura, if there are any others I should remove, please let me know.

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Sorry, no Irving. Kitay….

    Tape 1

    https://youtu.be/Q3HcN2mPwlU

    Tape 2

    https://youtu.be/W3yr4uKOwnc

  • Adam says:

    I just have to say it’s heartbreaking to see all these people (maybe one person) being so disrespectful to Laura Albanese Mancuso and her family. Not trying to start another flame war, but I believe that her and her family deserve some respect and support.

  • Jimmy Mallon says:

    Laura: Your dad’s restaurant was the best. I frequented Damianos for 20yrs. Great pizza w a great NY flavor. Mitch n Irving were great owners. Great alternative to Canters.

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    To Mark Evanier (Management) (not to post, just a response to you)
    I am deeply sorry you had to intervene, but I lost my father in 1989 and he was my hero and mentor. I also realize , freedom of speech. What gets me to lash out is incorrect info about my family. There is in no way a new restaurant opening any time soon, there is no one named Irving . Someone posed as my brother in 2014 stating my father worked for “Irving”. There is no one named Irving Kitay.
    It hurts my feelings and especially giving long time customers false hope . In turn confuses them. Again my apologies, but I just hate hecklers and liars and trying to set the records straight.
    Regards,
    Laura Albanese Mancuso
    702 277 6048

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    ~ Saturday ~ OUCH !

    Nothing like starting the new year with ol’ classic tongue lashing.
    Well said Mark E.

    Phil

  • The Management says:

    Okay, this is the guy who runs this blog stepping in to play Moderator.

    Please make this discussion more moderate. No more insults. No more calling anyone a liar. If you have something valuable or interesting to say about this restaurant, please do. But for the first time in the history of this website, I’m going to stop approving messages if I think they’re uncivil.

    If you enjoy this blog, please don’t make it a problem for me.

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Dick,
    Your first name surely fits who you are. Anyone can state what they want here. How do you know, the person that posed as my brother Mitch , really is Mitch?? Keep up your lies, you’re a very foolish man.
    I wish I could post pictures here. But actually, I don’t have to prove anything to you. Hope you get the mental help you need.

    Laura Albanese Mancuso

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Thank you Kelly. hopefully we do reopen. I now live in Las Vegas, Nevada but hope to carry on the family legacy. The valley will definitely kept in mind.

  • Kelly says:

    Please open again soon! Come to the valley where we all live now. Damianos was the best pizza ever…I loved the carrots and blue cheese given when you would sit down. I lived around the corner for years…would go late night when I was in my 20’s. I am sad all the best places have closed

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Thank you Sheri,
    It is truely sad that we are closed. Hopefully we can reopen sometime soon.
    Regards,

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Hari Simran Stoothoff,
    Thank you for the kind words.
    That is a true statement regarding the garlic pizza made for the Sikh community. We appreciate your business.

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Thank you Phillip. These two jerks on here need to stop posting incorrect info and misleading the loyal customers. They are disrespecting my father ..
    Thank you for all of the positive feedback minus a couple of uneducated heckler’s.My brother has not stated he’s opening anything as of yet. But will make sure once known it will be announced. Lol Irving NY Pizza is not one of them ..wow

  • April says:

    Let me set the record straight. I met Laura and her mother Bea Albanese in 1972 and am best friends with Laura to this day. I grew up with the Albanese family and spent lots of time in their home and restaurants, mostly the Pico store as they called it, but also Robertson and Fairfax. Bea was a widow who had two young kids from a prior marriage, Heather and Mitch Kitay. Dom Albanese married Bea and was Laura’s dad (Heather and Mitch’s step-dad). Dom started Domiano’s Mr. Pizza and there was no “Irving”. Bea made cheesecakes for the restaurants. Mitch ran the Fairfax store. It was a family business. I Sadly Dom passed away in the late 80’s. Laura is 100% accurate. If you have any questions, call her and she’ll set you straight. She inherited Dom’s big balls!

  • Erik T says:

    The above posters are lying. I was a kid in the neighborhood and knew both Damiano’s delicious pizza but also the family that owned it, mostly through Laura Albanese, the owners daughter who was my age. It sad to see someone try to rewrite history and steal someone’s legacy.

  • David b. Gabel says:

    I have known Laura and her family since I was a teenager. It was very insulting to read the ignorance of comments about them. I was treated as if I was family by Dom, and it was the best Italian food around! I have and always will have very fond memories of Damiano’s

  • Matt Hulit says:

    All of this is nonsense. Dominick Albanese is the ONE AND ONLY FOUNDER OF DAMIANO’S MR PIZZA! As a close friend of the family and a long time customer. I know this absolute fact! Laura and brother took over operations after the passing of Laura’s father.

  • Tina Mancuso says:

    Dick,

    Assuring that you know the owners which you claim you do, you would know that there is nobody in the family with the name Irving. In fact, I am 100% certain of this considering I am Domanicks granddaughter. Mitch is my uncle and there is no way in the deepest depths of hell that he would ever say that “Albanese worked for his dad” considering Mitch was his step son, and his father passed years before that. I do not know who this “Irving” figure is that you are referring to, but for the sake of my grandfathers memory please do your homework before you attack the family of the owner. I’m sure doing so, you would find that you are wrong and that there are plenty of pictures/write ups/reviews stating the owners as Mitch or Domanick. By the way that “crazed woman” above is my mother, and she is his daughter. I invite you to read an article from LA Times stating both Mitchell and Dominick as the rightful owners.

    http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-damiano-mr-pizza-closing-20130619-story.html

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Anything as of yet …
    We will keep you posted when we do.

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Thank you Phillip. These two jerks on here need to stop posting incorrect info and misleading the loyal customers. They are disrespecting my father ..
    Thank you dedicated customers . My brother has not stated he’s openimg anti

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Dick Franz
    Where are you getting the wrong info from???
    Mitch Kitay is my brother!!

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Frank
    I’ve invited you 3x to personally call me, yet no call. You’re a coward and an embarrassment to my father . Go play in traffic!

    Tape 2
    https://youtu.be/W3yr4uKOwnc

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Are you mentally ill Frank Lewis?? Why are you starting your bs again?
    Tape 1 of my father dumb ass

    https://youtu.be/Q3HcN2mPwlU

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