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Dining Out: Pizza with Korean flair

Hello Pizza plans to host a World Cup party.

June 03, 2010|By Megan O'Neil

Deep dish, thin crust, Napolese — you might think you have sampled all the pizza the world has to offer. But La Cañada's newest eatery, Hello Pizza, delivers a pleasant surprise with every slice.

The pizzeria, at the northeast corner of Ocean View and Foothill boulevards, is the brainchild of South Korea native Brandon Tak. Opened last month, it boasts fresh, healthy ingredients not often associated with the standard American pie.

Customers can choose between original and whole wheat crusts, the latter of which lends a dynamic flavor to the pizza, Tak said.

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"All the pizza dough we make ourselves in house," Tak said. "All the pizza is handmade. After you order is when we start making it."

Toppings include standards such as pepperoni and pineapple. But if you want to experience the best of Hello Pizza, order the sweet potato mousse, cream cheese mousse, shrimp or the bulgogi Korean beef.

The pizzas are cooked at 480 degrees for five minutes, minimizing the wait time for those who arrive hungry.

Tak is an unlikely restaurateur. A soccer fanatic growing up, he spent three years at Coventry University in England studying sports management. But after graduating, he struggled to find a sports-related job.

He eventually accepted an offer from Mr. Pizza, a popular Korean pizzeria franchise. The company was preparing to expand internationally, and Tak was tapped to head a new location in Los Angeles' Koreatown.

He spent four years learning the ins and outs of the pizza business, and the ins and outs of life in Southern California. He met and married his wife, Helen. And Tak continued to play soccer.

It was soccer that led him to La Cañada. Tak began playing pickup games at the fields at the former Foothill Intermediate School on a weekly basis. He got to know the city and some of its residents, and when he was ready to launch his own business, he knew where he wanted to be.

"It is a very comfortable city," Tak said. "It is not big, it is small, like a town. People are very kind. And it is such a decent market."

And the community is home to a large Korean population, Tak said.

Despite his busy schedule as a new business owner and new father (Helen gave birth to their first child, Harry, last week), Tak still makes time for soccer.

On June 12, Hello Pizza will host a party for South Korea's first match in the 2010 World Cup. Kickoff time is 4 a.m.

The pizza, and the coffee, will be hot.

Infobox

What: Hello Pizza

Where: 2261 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 4 to 10 p.m. Sundays Prices: Pizza $7.50 to $24.99; spaghetti $10.99; salads $3.99 to $ 8.50

Call: (818) 957-7979

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