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.

95 Responses to Damiano Mr. Pizza

  • Joseph says:

    Just missing Damiano’s like crazy during the quarantimes. I wish you could open up a delivery-only, all-over-the-westside location somewhere… it’s so much easier, and the market is hungry for it, especially right now. <3

    If not, then a recipe book? Pppplease?

  • Peter says:

    I wish Damiano’s was still open for when I go back to visit. Many late nights sitting in the old school dark restaurant or ordering when nothing else was open. Nothing has that comfortable feel anymore. I know LA is a place of change, but that’s not always a good thing.

  • Jocelyn says:

    I still have fond memories of going in for 3am slices with friends after shows. My order was a slice on spinach dough with pepperoni and (because it was the’80s/’90s) sun-dried tomatoes.

    I left LA in 1993. I’m so grateful I got to experience Damiano’s!

  • Kimberly B. says:

    I worked at Damiano’s Mr. Pizza ‘twice’ and it was a busy and festive atmosphere w late hours…it closed a few hours then re-opened. Mark was the Manager…funny and ran that place like nobody’s business. Celebrities loved it just as much as the locals. Everyone raved about Mr. Pizza!

  • Allan says:

    Why not sell the pizzas in markets?

  • Jeff Holtzman says:

    They had, hands down, the best NY pizza in LA. All the food was terrifico.

  • Gary Helsinger says:

    Hoping that Laura and her family can start another Damiano’s one of these days! Really missing it. I spend endless nights at the Fairfax location from the late 80s on. Long live Damiano’s!

  • Dave says:

    Holy cow, the onion-infused Fugazetta pizza! I used to take my dates to the Pico location back in the 80’s and order that heavenly heroin with cheese. I got married and moved deeper in the valley, but who thought such a landmark would disappear in my absence? So sad. A lot of them disappeared, but I particularly mourn this one.

  • David Goldfarb says:

    All I can say is that miss them all. I loved the Dad and went to school with Laura as a kid. The memories are so good and we were regulars on Robertson and then Pico and Westwood location. I also miss talking to Laura when we would go to the restaurant. So sad to lose one of the best Italian Restaurants in Los Angeles. I still remember when Dad passed away and the reaction I had when Laura told us…..Love to the family. I would love to hear from Laura and catch up if she checks the site…..

  • Tascha says:

    I miss Mr. Pizza. Grew up in the neighborhood; I was a year or two behind Laura in school. I even worked at Mr. Pizza briefly in college. It was well-run, and a fun place to work. Still miss the place.

  • Allan says:

    It would be great if you sold the sauce or made the recipe available, plus whatever was sprinkled on the top of the pie!

  • David Foe says:

    Domianos was the best! Big Mitch Kitay knew exactly what transplanted New Yorkers wanted in their pizza. Great taste! Mitch also understood that late nite/early morning delivery was a must. I recently ran into Mitch @Rainbowlive and he informed me that he has retired at the young age of 58 and will not be reopening MrPizza. Bummer but I fully get it. Mitch enjoys waking up @HighNoon n smoking a fat one on his penthouse balcony. Enjoy Mitch! MrPizza was the best!

  • Sam Park says:

    Damiano Mr. Pizza owner’s family and the rest of us customer “family”.

    I started eating at the Fairfax location from 1985 (when I moved into LA) until the early 90s (when I lived just around the corner on Orange Ave.). I loved the food and the wonderful people that worked there. I stopped in almost every other night to grab a slice or two after working downtown at a restaurant (Cocola) or from returning from the local bars (mostly the Coronet Bar and the Improv). I knew Mitch from my coming in all the time. Eating at Damiano Mr. Pizza was like having a bite to eat at a family’s place before going home. I visited Cantor’s Deli, the old Chinese restaurant and Eat A Pita back then too. What a good mix of meals with my best friends. I cherish those good times. So thanks, Laura, to you and your family!

  • Don Carlisle says:

    500th HOME RUN! Damn auto text!!

  • Don Carlisle says:

    I was a regular at the Fairfax location. It was the best NY pizza on the west coast. Mitchell Kitay was a legendary figure in the area. I would love his pizza and his knowledge of Yankees baseball. Mitch told me he has Mickey Mantles 50th home run baseball which he purchased for $275,000.00. Wow what a fan!

  • Mindy says:

    My family was completely heart broken when we found out the restaurant closed. We loved the calzones and have not found anything that can compare to that great taste. Please come back! We will travel to any place to get our hands on those calzones. What a loss of a Los Angeles institution. Please keep us up to date with any opening info.

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Hi Alan M,

    I remember you! Thank you for your kind words. I hope all is well with you.

  • Alan Maretsky says:

    Wow! What a great site. I did work at Damiano’s at the Pico and Robertson stores. We installed a house PA system and tv antenna. Dom was a real character. Loved working with him. I also remember Mitch and Laura. We did some work at your house as well. Every time I drive by those two locations it brings back great memories. And don’t get me started on the pizza!

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    Hi Bill M,

    Thank you for the kind words. We appreciated your business.

    Laura Albanese-Mancuso

  • Bill M says:

    My friends and I used to eat here all the time when I lived on Hayworth behind Canters. They had a great Beer collection (though I do not drink beer). My favorite dish was the angel hair spagetti – huge plate, great sauce, cooked to perfection. We were usually a fairly large group, so we always had to wait for the big booth in the back. Miss this joint, along with Anna’s in West LA.

  • Laura Albanese Mancuso says:

    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:

    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


    Tape 2


  • 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.
    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.


  • 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:

    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.

  • 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:


    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.


  • 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:

    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

  • Laura Mancuso says:

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


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