Chef Brad Kent of Olio Woodfire Pizzeria and Cafe
Chef Brad Kent is very serious about pizza. His pizza place—Olio Woodfire Pizzeria & Cafe—epitomizes this idea and it brings quality food to West 3rd Street. “The key to good food is simple,” he asserts. “Good ingredients handled properly and cooked to perfection: that’s what Olio is all about.”
Brad believes his need to make the perfect pizza started at a very young age. He can trace it back to around age seven, when he was growing up in San Diego. “I started cooking at home at as a very young child,” he says. “I remember as a kid going to restaurants and loving what I ate—or I would throw a temper tantrum if the food sucked. I learned late in life that this was a result of things like the marinara not being as good as another place or the quality of the mozzarella being inferior.”
“I’m a food fanatic…and have been since I was seven!” he says.
After attending multiple schools, studying everything from culinary science to business, Brad felt ready to open a restaurant in 2010—but it took a lot of planning to lead up to opening. In fact, Brad began developing the idea for Olio Woodfire Pizzeria & Cafe in 2003, almost a decade before the West 3rd and Crescent Heights doors opened. This was all to develop the Olio culinary style and flavor, something Brad takes great pride in.
“Blending tomato sauce is similar to making coffee or chocolate or wine,” he says. “You have to blend the best ingredients. This is the level of detail that is crucial to us. All our flavors concentrate in the oven, too. Sometimes people will ask where all the cheese is on our pizza: that’s not how we make pizza. We want people to appreciate other things like the delicious tomatoes and the bread.”
Similarly, finding the space took a while as well. Brad had a very specific idea of what he wanted Olio to be. “I looked for eighteen months to find a good location,” he says. “I wanted certain things in a neighborhood: there needed to be a specific population density and certain shopping centers that attract daytime drivers and a hospital and a nearby residential area. We needed all of that so we could be a neighborhood pizzeria.”
“What we really get in this location is all of that: there are two Whole Foods within a mile, there is a major hospital, there are two malls, there are a lot of higher educated, world travelled residents, and we are in a place where are a lot of people—day and night—can walk places. It’s neighborhoody.”
“I also wanted to be on a corner,” he says. “I wanted people to be able to see the wood oven from the street since it’s the heart of our restaurant.”
As you can tell, Brad has very high standards for his food and for what Olio is. He only wants the best—and finds that on West 3rd Street. “I wanted to be associated with the best of the best,” he says. “West 3rd Street has great everything. It has great food and great salons and great shopping and great massage places: it has some of the best of the best in Los Angeles. That’s why it was such an attractive part of town: I wanted that to be our company.”
“I hope we’re still here in twenty five years too,” he says. “I hope that people are taking their kids to Olio, telling them, ‘This is where I’d go when I was your age.’ That’s what we want.”
“That’s success to me,” he says. “Eating a great meal as a child can be very memorable.”
HOW THEY DESCRIBE THE STREET
“I describe West 3rd Street as a walking street that has cars on it. If we could shut the street down, allowing it to be a walk street only, everything is already there for it to be perfectly successful. There is only one chain but everything else is a one-off, mom and pop shop. These are stores that are the result of a lifelong dream, with owners who are a passionate about what they do. There is a connection to the street and an intense connection to their businesses. People come to work because it’s there job but also because the street feels like a fraternity.”
WHERE THEY GO