California might just be the birthplace of out-of-the-ordinary pizza toppings.
From smoked salmon and crème fraîche pizza — an homage to bagels and lox — to the pioneering idea of barbecued chicken, restaurants in the Golden State have long had a sense of adventure when it comes to so many people’s favorite dish. At Jean-Georges Beverly Hills at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten based the restaurant’s avocado carpaccio pizza on one of the city’s buzziest dishes: avocado toast.
The creamy green fruit slathered on thickly sliced, rustic bread has skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade. Seemingly overnight, the photogenic dish topped with a shower of seeds and spices started appearing on trendy brunch menus everywhere. It’s no coincidence the dish took off the same year Instagram was launched.
Vongerichten took advantage of the wood-burning oven at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills to create his own deeply satisfying version that combines freshly baked dough with cool, fresh avocado slices.
The construction is simple, but the result is a show-stopping starter. “We have a beautiful wood-burning pizza oven, so we make a sourdough crust,” he explains. “We top it with some spring onion, raw avocado slices, a little spice from some diced jalapeños, a cilantro garnish, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of sea salt. It’s like the most delicious avocado toast you can eat.”
The renowned chef admits that he also loves guacamole, and the pizza’s jalapeños and lime juice “absolutely show a Mexican influence.”
His menu at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills is inspired by the area’s Mexican heritage as well as its Asian influences. “There’s always a little spice,” Vongerichten says. “It’s less rich, as we use less butter, less cream and more vegetables.”
He describes the restaurant as having “the flavor of Jean-Georges New York, but with all California ingredients: Santa Barbara sea urchin, local fish, free-range chicken.”
The avocado carpaccio pizza exemplifies some of the elements that draw chefs to California, which are “the best organic vegetables and the best wine,” he says.
Vongerichten recommends ordering one pizza for the middle of the table with a few more appetizers like the crab crostini or ahi tuna ribbons. “With a margarita, a glass of Champagne or an aperitif, it’s perfect to share with your friends,” he advises.
Fortunately, avocados are available year-round, but Vongerichten loves working with all the bounty of fresh produce available in California. “There’s not really a winter,” he says. “We have all kinds of vegetables all year long, so it’s really a special place.”
The chef concludes: “Some people in New York say I cook with a California hand. I guess I belong in California.”
Craving avocado pizza at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills? Book your stay at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.
For more food inspiration, check out the exclusive Q&A with Jean-Georges.