Delicious? Check. Fast and convenient? Check. Good people? Check. The newest addition to the Melrose Arts District pizza row is Ghost Pizza, and it brings some special twists to the pizza experience. You’re gonna want to check it out.
Benjamin George Sales II is a creator of this special spot. He was born in Italy and traveled the world quite a bit with his military family. He eventually enlisted in the Army and did three tours overseas before deciding entrepreneurship was more in alignment.
He ran a motorcycle company and a couple of dispensaries in Sacramento before being courted by Chipotle. The food and beverage industry was not on Ben’s radar, but Chipotle really wanted his expertise in team development, sustainability and scalability so he jumped on board in 2014. He explained, “I started washing dishes. You’re never too good to do any job – your team will never believe you if you act like you are.” He got his first store in the Glendale Galleria, then quickly became a field leader with multiple locations. The culture – guest experience, valuing and empowering employees – was important to Ben. And it’s what he wanted especially to bring to his own business.
Ben left Chipotle a few years later, and did a stint in tech to realize he “needed to be in a restaurant every day.” He became the Director of Operations of Tomato Pie on Melrose in 2017, and when the opportunity arose to take over that location, Ben jumped. FAST! “The idea of Ghost Pizza Kitchen came to mind about five months ago. I started planning May 1. I opened July 1,” he said. This would be hard to believe without understanding the nth level discipline, focus, and problem-solving Ben’s been honing most of his life.
So what makes Ghost the perfect Melrose Avenue pizza experience?
You’ve got authenticity, and here’s where it gets remarkable again. “It’s the spirit of New York, down to the water,” Ben asserted. Ghost employs the New York Water Maker, a filtration system that cleans, purifies, and then mixes in the identical compounds of Bronx water. Yep, the dough, ice, and soda are made with all scientifically authentic New York H2O. “I’ve had guys come in here from NY and say ‘I’ll know – give me an ice cube.’ And they’re like, “Yeah, that’s NY, kid!” Ben recalled.
And you’ve got delicious pizza. There are 8 slots in the window. The traditionals – cheese and pepperoni – on the regular. The other 6 slots are democratically rotated with fun and unique combos that’ll keep you coming back. The Out-n-In has a ketchup and mustard base, with mozzarella, sharp cheddar, ground beef, onion, lettuce, and pickles. The Chester’s special ingredient is red Cheetos. And for the veggies, Ghost has plenty of options. The Veef includes both Beyond Beef and Beyond Sausage with Follow Your Heart vegan cheese.
Ingredients are mindfully selected, and pies are available vegan and gluten-free. Also on the menu are calzones and meatballs (both with veggie options), garlic knots, and wings (fire, sweet and spicy BBQ, bomb, sweet chili, or no sauce). While it’s not recommended to pass on the pizza, salad options are just as satisfying. The Hippie is especially great for summer: spinach, crisp apple, mango, sunflower seeds, light dried cranberry, and citrus zest dressing. And save room for the cookie desserts.
In addition to multiple Mexican sodas (Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Squirt), Ghost serves some of the most delicious soda on the planet: Stubborn Soda. The flavor profiles – from pineapple and black cherry to citrus hibiscus to agave vanilla – complement the savory food perfectly.
Ben brought six of his Chipotle coworkers with him to Ghost Pizza Kitchen. There, they are crafting food that tastes totally New York while building a culture that is completely LA.
The walk-up is open Sunday – Thursday 11a – 9p, and Friday – Saturday 11a – 10p. If you’re jonesing and can’t get to Melrose, delivery is available.
GHOST PIZZA KITCHEN
7751 ½ Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046