Indian Italian-American sports bar: Pijja Palace scores a hat trick in Silver Lake

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With 80 seats, Pijja Palace is a cozy, Silver Lake sports bar serving a mashup of traditional fare with Italian-American and owner Avish Naran’s Indian heritage. Photo by Stan Lee.

Avish Naran grew up in the heart of Los Angeles, surrounded by Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and Olvera Street, eating his way through the neighborhoods. His parents had different career aspirations other than food for Naran, but he began to stage at Pacific Dining Car, followed by a stint in culinary school. Always a fan of sports bars, Naran says, “I never intended of doing it better, I just wanted to do it my way.” 

Instead of dark and sticky floors, often associated with a rowdy sports bar, Naran says he wanted Pijja Palace to have more of a feminine touch, using light woods and installing a vintage soda fountain. “I wasn’t the first person to go down the pathway of mixing Indian and Italian food, this has been done in the Bay with Zante and Julio’s in Cerritos,” says Naran. He recalls his aunts and surrounding community using Barilla pasta shells with Indian ingredients, which inspired a tandoori spaghetti and malai rigatoni on the menu.

What’s on the large screen televisions? “We’ll play anything,” says Naran. “If there’s something you want to watch, even if it’s some obscure lacrosse match and I can get the package, I’ll happily get the package and we’ll watch lacrosse.”

“I don’t think it’s any Indian parents’ dream for (them) to chase a life of food,” says Avish Naran, who opted for the restaurateur life over law or medicine. Photo by Emily Francis.

With its blonde wood and feminine touches, Naran calls Pijja Palace the anti-sports bar. Photo by Eman Raif.

Flat and thin, Pijja Palace makes their pizza in the style of New Jersey tavern pies with toppings that extend to the edge of the crust. Photo by Eman Raif.

Pijja Palace doesn’t have a tandoor but Avish Naran uses ghee, burnt lime, and smoked chiles in a spaghetti dish to impart the same flavors. Photo by Stan Lee.