Cupcake Titan Candace Nelson Opens Pizzana in Sherman Oaks

Red pepper, please.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink, People
  • Written by
    Heather Platt
  • Photographed by
    Dane Deaner and Amy Neusinger

Candace Nelson launched her Sprinkles Cupcakes brand in 2005, and after more than a decade of nationwide store expansion—plus helming her own reality TV show Sugar Rush—she kicked off another business.

After being wowed by master pizzaiolo Daniele Uditi’s bubbly Neapolitan pies at a party at actor Chris O’Donnell’s house, a light bulb went off. Why not partner and open a restaurant? Daniele, Candace and her husband, along with Chris and his wife, went on to launch one of LA’s most lauded pizzerias. Pizzana opened in 2017 with much fanfare in Brentwood thanks to Daniele’s wonderfully light organic crusts and premium ingredients. The Naples-born pizza chef (set to debut as a judge in the new Hulu show Best in Dough) makes his pies with San Marzano tomatoes grown in the Neapolitan countryside and fior di latte mozzarella brought in fresh from Italy.

Another location opened in West Hollywood, and in May they turned their attention to the Valley.

“We had always planned to open in the Valley. It’s really just been about finding the right location,” says Candace of the new locale. “I personally have so many friends who have been making pilgrimages first to Brentwood, then to West Hollywood, and they’re just like, ‘Please come to the Valley!’” Candace is heeding the call thanks to a serendipitous connection to the former Josephine Bakery space on Ventura Boulevard. “I was a big fan of theirs, so it was really fortuitous for us that we knew each other when the space was becoming available.”

Now she is excited to share her and Daniele’s beloved Neapolitan-inspired pizza with a new clientele. “I feel like the Valley is just an incredible place. There’s so much business going on.”

The new 45-seat Pizzana will offer popular menu items like a cacio e pepe-inspired pie: Daniele’s 48-hour fermented crust topped with fresh mozzarella, parmesan cream and cracked black pepper. In addition to his famous pies, Daniele masters starters like juicy meatballs in a bath of marinara, and charred artichoke hearts with toasted pine nuts, parmesan and lemon. Unique to the Valley location is a conveniently located to-go window in the back.

“In building the space, we were very cognizant of the fact that our takeout business is much larger than in past years, pre-COVID. So we did dedicate more space to that,” notes Candace. Not only will Pizzana’s hot pizzas be ready for takeout and delivery in the 818, but Daniele’s heat-and-slice partially baked pies and newly launched frozen pizzas will also be available.

“We do so much business as takeout,” says Candace. “So expanding our delivery area beyond what we’re doing down in the city has been really important.”

The new space, with bright white walls, accented with a warm blue and red hues, has an austere, minimalistic vibe. There’s not much in the space besides the seating: tables with a row-style banquette on one side and chairs on the other. The most visible flair for the new location is the restaurant’s bright neon Pizzana sign, making it easy to find from either direction on Ventura Boulevard.

“Our original Sprinkles had neon on the front and it still does. Neon is very special to us. It also feels very LA and a bit retro Valley too,” says Candace.

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