I know, I know. You can't believe I would actually eat at a restaurant called Valley's Pizza Land. The name says it all, doesn't it? This is just further evidence for why you only dine on the Westside.
Well, you're partially right. I didn't eat at Pizza Land, I had it delivered. The only reason I considered this place at all is because delivery options in some parts of the Valley are pretty scant, so when a restaurant menu shows up on your doorstep that isn't for pizza or Chinese food, it's a pretty exciting day.
But Pizza Land is a pizza place, you say. Well, that's only sort of true. You see, Pizza Land is also a Middle Eastern restaurant in disguise.
Beef kebab plate
We ordered a variety of dishes out of morbid curiosity. Was there any chance that a pizza place could actually make decent kebabs and grape leaves? The answer seems to be no.
I started with the beef kebab plate, which comes with lavash (the interracial love child of a tortilla and some pita bread), hummus, rice or french fries, roasted vegetables, and a little cucumber/tomato salad. The charred green pepper gave this dish a wonderful aroma--that is, until I actually got the beef pieces close to my nose. They had the aroma of something I might feed my cats if I were seeking revenge for the latest overturning of the bathroom trash can. I just couldn't bring myself to eat more than two bites of this mysterious meat that had the texture of beef, but smelled more like rotting chicken. I feared food poisoning, but it never surfaced. The french fries were hopelessly soggy, so I saved them as leftovers for future revival in my toaster oven. I decided to make a meal out of wrapping lavash around pieces of red onion, cucumber, and tomato and dipping them into the somewhat watery but otherwise hummus. At least the bread was warm and soft. The entire dish was only $8, so I can't really say that I feel ripped off. It's more that, had the meat actually been good, I would have found a killer deal. Oh, and if you're wondering why I ordered french fries when I could have had rice, which travels much better, it was the morbid curiosity getting to me again.
Eggplant parmesan with spinach linguine
In contrast to the beef kebabs, the eggplant parmesan was delicious. Eggplant is easy to screw up--I've done it many times myself. I've also eaten many frozen eggplant dishes from Whole Foods where the eggplant is hopelessly undercooked. Pizza Land's eggplant was cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. I would definitely order this dish again. It's also only $8 and, for me, enough food for two to three meals.
I really like dolmas when they're done well, but most of my experiences with these rice and meat-stuffed grape leaves have been ill-fated. Pizza Land makes the worst grape leaves I've ever encountered. By the time they arrived at my door, they were both soggy and hard at the same time, the rice undercooked, the leaves overcooked to a putrid green-yellow, and the beef the same rank-smelling concoction that was used for my kebabs. This dish made me feel like I'd really like my $6 back. Maybe if I steam them and pour tomato sauce on top, I can make them palatable. I hate wasting food.
Deep fried ravioli
We ordered the deep fried ravioli expecting toasted ravioli--a fantastic dish rarely seen outside of St. Louis, but given the oddities of the rest of the menu, it seemed plausible that this dish had made it to a Valley pizzeria/kebab hut. But no, they actually took pieces of ravioli and deep-fried them, resulting in a dish with a bizarrely leathery appearance and a pasta shell that gave a new meaning to "al dente."
The "homemade meatball" sandwich was a riot. It actually tasted quite good, but the "meatballs" were not ball-shaped at all and looked a little like spam and it could have used more filling to balance out all the bread. The sandwich was also $8 and came with fries.
In addition to the bizarre assortment of dishes you've read about in this review, Pizza Land also serves fish and chips, "deep fried creamy jalapeno," baby back ribs, and "sea fairer delight" (fish and shrimp). Oh, and pizza.
Despite the oddities and horribly inconsistent food, I actually plan to order from Pizza Land again. Next time I'm going to be a little more adventurous and try a khachapure, a dish made of bread filled with egg, cheese, and sometimes other fillings. It has about a 50% chance of being good, but I've never had this dish before, so at least it will be an adventure. I'll also re-order the eggplant and venture into some other dishes. Maybe I'll even try the pizza.
Because how can you not love a place this weird?
Valley's Pizza Land
4837 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
Valley Village, CA 91607
Fri. and Sat., 11-midnight
Free delivery ($8 minimum)
Also located in Burbank, Sherman Oaks, and North Hollywood