Walking into Masa of Echo Park is a refreshing trip in time, back to an era of neighborhood diners. The place has a homey feel, like it has been around for years.

Built in the ’30s, the building was previously a Van de Kamp bakery amongst other incarnations. The décor is eclectic: old tile floors, a mish mash of furniture styles and tables with brightly colored plastic tablecloths.

Two hands-on couples take pride in owning the bakery/café. They serve a smorgasbord of dishes at reasonable prices, everything from Chicago pizzas to Moules et Frites. With a menu this large, there are many choices, yet the only two dishes you need to know about are the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and Warm Croissant Bread Pudding.

There are no shortcuts taken at Masa. Pizzas take 45 minutes to get to your table; so do what we did, call and put your order in ahead of time, and it will be ready by the time you sit down.

We ordered a small pie, half mushroom and sausage, half cheese, for a little variety. At well over an inch thick and packed with flavor, it was enough for two to four people. For $14.95, it was a good deal.

The dough is crisp on the outside, soft underneath, but no mushy parts – perfection typically found only in Chicago. The sausage is actually flown in from Chicago. It’s a big patty that they place on the pie, as the top layer, just like a thin hamburger patty, only more flavorful.

The tomato sauce is oh-so-sweet with chunks of tomato and garlic. The pie is close to perfection; only thing I would change is to substitute chopped garlic for the larger chunks. The waitress says that the secret to the pizza is the corn meal in the crust.

Leave room for the decadent, bread pudding. They take a homemade croissant and bake it in their own custard. It’s a down home dessert that goes on my list of all time favorites.

For more information, call (213) 989-1558 or visit masaofechopark.com.