Hell-Fired Pizza at The 4th Horseman

The entrance to hell-a good pizza. Photo by Erin DeWitt

What happens when you combine the culinary, art and business talents of the minds behind Gardena’s Phantom Carriage Brewery and Long Beach’s Dark Art Emporium? The 4th Horseman is an artisan-pizza-and-beer joint with a macabre, old-school, horror-flick motif that opened on Fourth Street, just west of Pine Avenue, in late November. Goth pizza? Yeah, we can get on board with that.

Three co-owners—Ryan Hughes, Martin Svab and Adam Schmalz—all came from Phantom Carriage, while the fourth, Jeremy Schott, owns Dark Art Emporium, a gallery specializing in the wonderfully creepy that’s located just around the corner. “We are all just into dark art and horror movies and love doing cool stuff together,” says Hughes. “The name itself is from a cool movie, an awesome metal song, and from revelations—Death on a Pale Horse, with hell following behind him. We just want to bring something new and different to the city. When we came up with the name, it all just clicked.”

As my dining companion, OC Weekly music editor Nate Jackson, said, it’s kind of like Alex’s Bar, but with pizza. The walls are a murky gray or purple and dotted with cartoonish paintings of monsters (holding pizza slices), classic horror-movie posters and still shots, and vintage beer cans. A massive red chandelier hangs in the center of the room. And the jukebox plays a stream of rockabilly, psychobilly and metal.

There’s beer by the can or bottle or on tap, ranging from nuanced specialty brews to Miller High Life. Wine selections are on the high-brow spectrum and come by the glass.

All pizzas come as 16-inchers, thin crust only, and many run upward of $20 apiece. But the names are pretty creative, and there’s no shortage of variety: The White Horse, your standard cheese pizza; Death to Piggy, a pie with three kinds of pork toppings; Rosemary’s Baby, an Italian sausage pizza with sweet balsamic mushrooms; Pastrami Dearest, with pastrami, mozzarella, swiss, sauerkraut and stripes of Thousand Island dressing; Memento Mori, which combines beef bulgogi with kimchi and roasted pineapple. And that’s just a sampling. With large-cut pieces, slim crusts and a light hand with the toppings, these slices beg to be eaten folded, whether you think that’s a pizza atrocity or not.

Grab a slice of Rosemary’s Baby. Photo by Erin DeWitt

Menus advise to “Make it Apocalyptic for $1.” Upon inquiring, I learned it meant receiving a little cup of the 4th Horseman’s “super-hot and a little sweet” pineapple-habanero sauce to drizzle or dip.

“Our pizza is one-of-a-kind for the area,” says Hughes. “We focus on thin crust using a two-day proofing method and use as high-quality and [the most] local ingredients as we can find. We partnered up with [Long Beach nonprofit] Farm Lot 59 to get weekly deliveries directly from the garden.”

Aside from a few salads (basic greens, caesar, caprese, pesto-pasta) and the cheese pizza, most menu items contain at least one meat. The vegetarian pizza, the Black Horse, includes roasted peppers, balsamic mushrooms, olives and basil atop a house-made-tomato-sauce-and-mozzarella base. Vegans can get the Frailty, a cheeseless crust piled with veggies (though vegan parmesan or vegan sausage crumbles may be added for an additional cost).

Those with lighter appetites (or wallets) can opt for an individual slice, available in one of four flavors that rotate daily (and will set you back between $4 and $5 per slice).

And at less than two months old, the place gets packed—pretty much every day. The 4th Horseman opens at 3 p.m. during the week (noon on weekends), so get there as close to that time as possible. For Death—I mean, a hungry crowd follows close behind.

The 4th Horseman, 121 W. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 513-3394; www.the4thhorsemanlbc.com.

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