Los Angeles is often described as a city that does not value its past. Every day, it seems, a historic home, building or restaurant faces the wrecking ball. This is especially true for the latter, although several key restaurants have managed to stand the test of time. Hollywood’s iconic Musso and Frank Grill has been shaking up martinis for over 100 years now. Bay Cities Italian Deli is still selling sandwiches in Santa Monica more than nine decades after its inception. And the famous Italian restaurant Barone has been a San Fernando Valley staple since the day it opened in 1945.
Set in a bustling corner of Valley Glen, Barone’s is an undeniable oldie, but the good guys and stage managers alike have certainly recognized it as such, cementing its go-to status for any Los Angeles-based movie or TV show in need of a retro establishment. The place is such an industry mainstay, in fact, that it has featured prominently in the background of two recent productions set in old-world Los Angeles.
Not only does the restaurant appear several times throughout the filming of Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy” in the 1990s, it also appears in the new HBO series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” which takes place during the so-called Showtime basketball era. (While countless websites claim that Barone’s also replaces Tail o’ the Cock in Paul Thomas Anderson’s last film, “Licorice Pizza”, this is incorrect. The film instead used Billingsley’s Prime Rib, today now defunct, but still intact. and Steak House located at Van Nuys Golf Course.)
A true Valley institution, Barone’s was founded by siblings Josephine Barone and Tony, Frank and Mike Arpaia, who originally settled in a small corner of Sherman Oaks that previously housed a restaurant named Barto’s. As a cost-saving measure, the quartet decided to name their new business “Barone’s”, as it allowed them to easily change Barto’s old signage by removing the “T” and swapping an “N” and an “E” . And thus, the famous Italian restaurant Barone was born.
The rectangular-shaped Neapolitan-style pizzas the restaurant is now known for were also born out of a measure of profitability. Shaping the crust into a four-sided shape rather than a typical circle allowed the family to fit more pizzas in their small oven and therefore serve more pies to more customers.