Damiano Mr. Pizza


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.


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.

94 Responses to Damiano Mr. Pizza

  • Stacy says:

    This was the BEST pizza in Los Angeles. So sorry they are gone. I dont even care for pizza that much now but as a kid, It always had to be Domiano’s!

  • Hari Simran Stoothoff says:

    I used to go to the Damiano’s on Robertson with my Sikh family for garlic pizza. It was the best….incredible. I took my daughters there when they were little, and he came and sat, and talked with us. He said he made the garlic pizza for the Sikhs. I will never forget that day. He was so friendly, and so special, and made us feel very special too! I love the video with Regis Philbin….love him too!
    So sorry to hear you have closed…was going to take my friend there. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Wow Frank Lewis, you’re still at it?
    You really delusional..
    Thank you Phillip, for stating the facts. Let’s all pray for frank, the “poor thing”.
    I’m attaching the two videos of my father, founder and owner of Damiano Mr. Pizza!! This was in the 80s with Regis Philbin .
    Tape 1
    Tape 2

    Thank you for all the loyal customers and please excuse Frank Lewis”comments, POOR, POOR , DELUSIONAL MAN…

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    Thank you Phillip McCan. I’m Domanick’s daughter, Laura Albanese Mancuso. I’m getting quite irrattared with the redundant post by Frank Lewis , that I have clarified already a year and a half ago.
    Frank Lewis, you are a delusional person. My family knows Noone named Irving Kitay, which IS NOT my brother’s biological father. I even invited you to call but have no “Juevos” to do so but to continue to post false information.
    I will attach the videos once more . It’s apparent that Frank is mentally challenged! Wow!!
    Tape 1

    Tape 2

    Thank you for all the dedicated , loyal customers!

    Much love
    Laura Albanese Mancuso

  • Sheri says:

    Mr. Pizza had the best pizza of anywhere in the L.A. area. I moved out of the area and whenever I was in the Fairfax area, I always stopped to bring home one of their pizzas. In high school, at Fairfax, Mr. Pizza was the hangout where we would all go for a slice of pizza for lunch. I’m sad that they closed.

  • Philip McCan says:

    Mitchell Kitay claims his father founded Damiano’s and that Dominick Albanese was his first employee. So why was the restaurant named “Damiano’s?” Who names a restaurant after an employee?

    No one. The restaurant was named Damiano’s because it was founded by Dominick Albanese in 1964. That’s what it said in an article in the L.A. Times (linked below). The Times interviewed Mitchell Kitay for the article. He had plenty of opportunity to state that his biological father, Irving Kitay, founded the restaurant. HE DID NOT! I don’t know why he’s claiming Irving Kitay founded a restaurant and named it after someone else. It’s patently ridiculous.


  • John Ling says:

    My family used to order from Damiano’s every Sunday from the late 70’s to mid-80’s – it was a tradition! It really was some of the best pizza I’ve had.

  • Devin says:

    Any further updates / hope of a return of Damiano’s? I moved to LA from the east coast (Philadelphia) in 2009 and spent my first couple years trying to find the right “NY style” pizza, to no avail. When I first tried Damiano’s, it didn’t strike me as traditionally “NY style,” but it was so unique, it became an immediate favorite of mine. Unfortunately, only months later, it shut down. Have there been any further developments toward re-opening in another location?? I’ll start a damn petition if I have to!! :)

  • Spencer says:

    Unless I missed someone else writing it, I found two other things very charming. One was the neon glow from the beer refrigerators in front with all sorts of imports I didnt try but loved to see.

    The other, while inconvenient, was also somewhat charming, at least at Fairfax. It was eating in near pitch darkness. That is what also made it cool, though, like the rickety tables, kind of uncomfortable.

    It was a lovable dive, bordering on a dump But it could never have survived if the food wasnt good. And it was very good.

  • Jon Stock says:

    I didn’t know that they closed. Best Pies in L.A.

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Thank you Merrick for the kind words.
    I miss all 3 locations everyday!
    Just the other day, Norman Reedus was on Jimmy Fallon , tonight show speaking about Damiano’s on fairfax.
    Here’s the link, hopefully it works ..lol


  • George thomas says:

    Mr. Damiano’s reminded me of another favorite from the 70’s located just a few doors down from Mr. damiano’s. BUDAPEST HUNGARIAN Restaurant. A very classy place run by a Hungarian Gentleman “George” and his wife. They were great hosts and the food was always great. I remember my favorite dishes were the Chicken Paprikash and chicken with dumplings. Very authentic, European style service down to the sparkling water served with the meal.

  • Merrick Wolfe says:

    I lived in LA from ’85-’99 and had many favorite Italian restaurants including (the original) Vitello’s in Studio City, where I lived. But, by far, Damiano’s was my very favorite. The pizza, oh yes, the pizza, probably the closest of any in LA to remind me of home, New York. But it was the PASTA, as Mark (site owner) wrote about, that really roped me in. I’m one of those New Yorkers who MUST have their pasta cooked al dente — or it’s no good. Folks, there was not one time, not ONE, when I ate at Damiano’s and the pasta wasn’t cooked perfectly al dente. I’m talking linguine, I’m talking ravioli, I’m talking tortellini. Didn’t matter. If it was pasta, it was al dente and I was always in heaven when I ate there. And, indeed, Mark, the meat sauce was awesome.

    I now live in San Francisco, where we have many good restaurants, but would always come back to LA and have a meal at Damiano’s — except when I went last year and, indeed, it was gone. Very sad! I will sorely miss the good folks and good food at Damiano’s Mr. Pizza — but it’s nice to be able to share these great memories!

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Yes Philip, he did.
    We would fly out our family from Italy to cook. Great memories.
    I have an article I will attach once I locate it.

  • Philip McCan says:

    I remember that Damiano would give away free food every March 19 to mark the Feast of St. Joseph. This was at the Robertson location and Damiano would be there welcoming everyone.

    March 19 is also the day the swallows traditionally return to Capistrano and like the swallows, I returned often to Damiano’s.

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    I’m not following your question.
    I didn’t run that location and unclear of protocol with reserved tables for people that tipped 15% vs people that didnt. I don’t think blue cheese was a high requested item for pizza.
    Please explain further if your still in need of your question or questions answered further.
    Laura Albanese Mancuso

  • Al says:

    Used to be able to breeze in, ahead of the line of hipsters, to the usually reserved table up front. Why? Knew what 15% was, unlike the tables filled with hipsters who would leave say, a dollar tip. One pinche buck for a tablefull! Brought my own blue cheese to order blue cheese pizza. The servers were required to punch out & back in, to make it appear they had not worked an 8 hour day (and thus be paid benefits).

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    John G

    Thank you for the compliment on the pizza!!

    My brother Mitchell is “really ” my “half”brother. We have the same mother different father’s . But I call him my brother because we grew up together. Easier than saying my “half ” brother. Lol
    I see where you’re confusion was though.
    I hope that answers your question.

  • John G says:

    Laura, I loved the Fairfax location. The pizza is memorable.
    A brother normally IS your father’s son. That is the usual case. Is there something I’m missing?

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Thanks Jon!
    It amazes me , how ignorant people are and to sit there and argue on pure rumor and not knowledge.
    It’s a Shame I had to explain my family tree to get the word out!!
    I shouldn’t of had to…lol
    oh well..can’t fix stupid!!!!

  • Jon Martin says:

    Boom….Laura Albanese Mancuso wins by knockout….get em outta here!

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    one more thing, my father passed away Jan 1989, my brother , mitchell, took over when my father passed. capisci?

    Laura Albanese Mancuso

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    this will help you hopefully.

    I have no clue who Irving kitay is . Just because two idiots post things doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because my brother’s last name is Kitay, doesn’t mean he’s not my brother. There was never an Irving Kitay. My maiden last name is Albanese. Domamick Albanese is my father and FOUNDER of DAMIANO MR PIZZA! WHY IS THERE SO MUCH CONFUSION.???

    If you read my post at the end I offered my phone number to clear up any confusion.

    (702) 277 6048

    Herrs the owner on two videos from the 80s..

    Watch “Damiano’s Mr. Pizza-Tape 1” on YouTube
    Damiano’s Mr. Pizza-Tape 1: https://youtu.be/Q3HcN2mPwlU

    Here’s the 2nd one!

    Watch “Damiano’s Mr. Pizza-Tape 2” on YouTube
    Damiano’s Mr. Pizza-Tape 2: https://youtu.be/W3yr4uKOwnc


  • Michael Laine says:

    One of the more entertaining threads I’ve read in my 20 years online. I checked into this as having been one of the late 70’s through mid-80’s regulars and after wanting to get a little info on the current status of the place and it’s history, I’m more confused than ever.
    Mitch Kitay writes in his post of April 20th, “My late father was the founder”, and one has to assume he’s referring to Irving Kitay. However his sister in her post of March 7th says she is Damino “Domanick’s daughter” and then goes on to write “Who is Irving????” Later, she refers to her brother Mitch as hoping he reopens another restaurant in LA. What gives?

  • Brian says:

    I moved NJ to LA in 1986 and eat here through the 2000’s. This was the spot after you did the thing at a bar or jazz club. Always open. I moved the SFV and would make the drive at 3:00 AM over Laurel Cyn. for my spinach calzone and a slice of cheese. That made the drive home so much better. Today, 2015, I eat less pizza than ever before in my life thanks to all the bad $10 pizza box shops on the blvds.

  • Laura Albanese-Mancuso says:

    Thank you to all of the dedicated , loyal customers that wrote about the restaurant and how great the food was! Indeed a horrible loss and it;s the last memories I had of my father. its sad when landlords become greedy and run the little guy out..it makes the samll business owner either jack up prices so high to survive or have to close. A sad but true story..I live in vegas and would love to carry on the memory here in VEgas or hopefully my brother, mitch will reopen in LA!!

  • Laura Mancuso says:

    This post is for the uneduacated morans that wrote the wrong info on my father Damiano “Domanick” Albanese.
    RobbPizza and David Moylan, please get your stories correct. I am Laura Albanese, Domanick’s daughter!! WTF are either of you talking about!!! ???? I invite either of you two idiots to call me and I would love to set both of you poor, uneducated idiots straight. Willed the restaurants to Irving??? Who is Irving????
    Your such close friends of my father , i ve never heard of you!!! please post what you know, and get off the crack pipe!!!
    702 277 6048

  • Vida says:

    Carrot and Celery Sticks!

  • Michael Schwartz says:

    We used to go to the Damiano’s on Fairfax with our kids and get the Family Pizza Dinner which included salad, pizza, and pasta and was a great deal. The only issue we ever had was that there seemed to be a big turnover in the waitresses who were often pretty and inexperienced. We used to joke that Mitchell had a casting couch.

  • cami says:

    I used to love this place. This was our spot to go and get pizza after a show or going out in LA back in the early 90s. It will be missed. It had a great energy and super fun crowd. Everyone was up for a good time.

  • Mark Gonzales says:

    Why can’t Damiano’s MR. Pizza open at another location with the same recipes? It wa THEE BEST pizza i ever had in my life. Late night pizza by the slice too! I can’t find any good pizza anywhere that compares! PLEASE REOPEN somewhere in THE LOS ANGELES/VALLEY/VENTURA or HOLLYWOOD area. PLEASE who ever ownes the recipes!

  • Bob Pono says:

    Stoned at 2:11am, and all I want is a sausage and egg sandwich delivered. A true shame…

  • Lazy Aussie says:

    Oh, and I still have the box! :)

  • Lazy Aussie says:

    I first stumbled across this place back in 2007 whilst my 1st travels to America, whilst staying at Banana Bungalow just up the road & returned back every year till its closure. This place had the best pizza I’ve ever tasted, and the dark atmosphere reminded me of the old Gino’s Pizza here in Lalor, Melbourne, Australia. It traditionally became the first place I’d eat in America, & the last place before boarding the plane & heading back home to Australia.
    Luckily, in Sept ’12, I managed to bring back a large pizza, in the box, with menus after a 16 hour flight back home, to show my friends & family! How’s that for delivery!?
    R.I.P. Mr Pizza, I miss you!
    Loyal & Sad Customer from July 2007 till Sep 2012 :(

  • David says:

    Damiano’s is legendary, as far as I’m concerned. First of all, they had the best pizza. Secondly, they had this wonderful salad in sections including various vegetable, beans, lettuce, dressing etc. Additionally, when I was a kid living in the Pico-Robertson area, my friend Ronnie and I would go there every New Year’s Eve. Lastly, my friend Al would go there to pick up a few pizza pies to break the fast for Yom Kippur. I truly miss that place and their food.

  • Daniel says:

    Their pizza was great, R.I.P. If you guys want a great NY style pizza you should checkout Brownstone pizzeria on Colorado blvd near Eagle Rock. I know, I know it’s a schlep, but trust me (I’m a born and bred NYer) it’s worth it. And for those who refuse to eat at Animal are really depriving themselves of an awesome meal. Their Poutine will make you forget all about Pizza. Just sayin’.

  • Jon says:

    Sad to hear it closed. This was where you could get a real, old-fashioned, NY style pizza, when you weren’t in the mood for blintzes, pastrami, or traditional Cantor’s fare. The other pizza joints that were newer, just didn’t have the knack that Mr. Pizza had.

  • RobbPizza says:

    Mr. Pizza was started on Roberton Blvd. in the middle 60’s by Dominic Albanese. He was a wonderful man, who built his own, small empire of Italian restaurants. Before opening his 1st Mr. Pizza, he was the chef/manager of a famous Italian eatery on Vermont Blvd. His dream was to open his own restaurant, but he lacked all the necessary funds, so, over a period of time, he would say a table had broken, or a couple of chair needed to be replaced, a pan cracked or silverware was missing and he’d order replacements for the restaurant, while removing the perfectly good table, chair, pan or silverware. After a great deal of time, patience and larceny he had enough of everything to get started.

  • Suellen Liker says:

    I went to Damiano’s every two weeks on Robertson S. of Pico. There was a laundermat next door where I washed the clothes. And yes, there was a man named Damiano!! it was in the mid 70’s.

  • Kelly says:

    Damianos was and will always be the best pizza in LA. I was so sad when it closed. I moved out here when I was 22 and now I am 42. My friends and I were staples there after a night out partying. They would bring carrots and blue cheese to the table. Simply the best.

  • Hortencia says:

    So sad. Had the best Shrimp pizza ever.

  • Brian says:

    Los Angeles. 3:00 a.m. You’re home. You’re stoned. THERE WAS NOTHING BETTER than Damiano’s. It is sadly, sadly missed.

  • Raul says:

    I would like to thank the owners of animal for shutting down damianos. I worked there for 9 years and have been unemployed for 5 months. I’ve been struggling to find a job, I have two kids, I struggle every month to pay my rent and all of my expenses. Sometimes I don’t even have money to put food on the fucking table for my family. Thanks again guys!

  • Charles Sheen says:

    The one on Robertson was our spot. What i remember about the building was that it was in a strip mall and had a photo box store in the parking lot,dad would drop off his film,we would order the pizza and take it home.Now the cool part was that they put the pepperoni underneath the cheese! I still think thats the coolest thing ever.We never went to the one on fairfax which was closer,we didnt even think it was apart of the chain.

  • Tamara says:

    And you could count on getting afterhours alcohol here! They would serve the beer or wine in white coffee mugs so no one was the wiser. Love them.

  • Steve says:

    How sad! I used to eat at the Robertson location for lunch frequently when I worked for my dad, whose office was walking distance. I loved their pizza, and the sub sandwiches that came with a little cup of caponata on the side. I went to the Pico location a few times, but I didn’t like it as much. There was a crusty (in a N.Y. kind of way) but entertaining waitress at Robertson named “Bea”, who left there when it closed and she ended up a Chris’s Pizza on Venice Blvd. in Culver City, which was also very good and now also gone.

  • Mary says:

    I DO hope they reopen somewhere soon! I love their pizza!!

  • Bess says:

    This is a major loss.. best pizza EVER and the Fugazetta (an Argentine pizza with more layers of ham, cheese and sweet onions) was better than well, you fill in the blank with what you love alot ;)p
    Im terribly sad and will never ever go to Animal or whatever the hell it is called.. another wonderful place gone.. :( and that just plain old sucks!

  • Mike says:

    My family used to eat at the Damiano’s near our house on Robertson & Cashio. It was one of our favorite restaurants! It’s very sad that they’re all gone now.

  • Art says:

    for a long time, Damiano’s Mr. Pizza was the best pizza around.

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