Salvatore A. ‘Sam’ Martorana, 83; founder of Casa Bianca, top L.A. pizzeria

According to a news report from www.latimes.com, “Salvatore A. “Sam” Martorana, the son of Italian immigrants who felt he had hit “the big time” when the pizza at his Eagle Rock restaurant was named the Southland’s best, has died. He was 83.”

“Martorana, who founded Casa Bianca Pizza Pie in the mid-1950s, died Sunday at his Pasadena home of complications related to a brain tumor, said his daughter, Andrea Martorana,” said the story. “Of all the neighborhood pizza parlors out there, each of them touted as the best in the Southland, one of them actually has to be the best. And after chomping my way through half the pies in Los Angeles County, I’m pretty sure Casa Bianca is the one,” food critic Jonathan Gold said in The Times in 1991.

After the article ran, “things really changed,” Andrea Martorana said. “We were doing well as a little family place, but at one point we had more business than we could handle,” according to the article. “When you step into the foyer, you’re whomped with the smell of garlic and the roar of many, many people being happy,” Gold wrote in the review. “And the pizza — well, the pizza is just the best, especially the sausage pizza.” There is no secret recipe, his daughter said, just a dedication to using quality ingredients and making everything from scratch. Until recently, the vaunted sausage was handmade by Martorana, the son of a butcher. In 1991, Gold also named Casa Bianca’s sausage pizza one of the top 10 dishes that he had tasted that year. But Martorana’s favorite pizza was his signature “deluxe,” made with sausage, mushrooms and bell peppers. Salvatore Anthony Martorana was born Feb. 8, 1924, in Milwaukee and raised in Chicago. He was known as Sam, a name spelled by his initials.