O.C.’s Best Pizza!

514

Just when it seems there isn’t room for one more pizza joint, new ovens fire up. From elegant Neapolitans to nostalgic N.Y. slices to quickie point‑and‑pick ventures, the selection is so vast it begs to be freshly rated.  So here’s our list of favorite pies, numbered from 28 to 1. Try them quickly, before another wave appears.


28. Sgt. Pepperoni’s
• Take it from Sgt. Pepperoni’s, all you need is love—even napkin holders sport aphorisms about love from Voltaire and John Lennon. Pizza has been served on this spot for 40 years, the past three by new owners. The New York‑style pizza is foldable, flavorful, and texturally engaging. And there’s lots of cheesy goodness on the tasty Meatball Ricotta pie, those oils oozing onto the crunchy rim. Order a slice, or check out Beatles memorabilia while you wait for your pie. 2300 S.E. Bristol St., Newport Beach, 949‑852‑9500, sgtpepps.com

27. Craftsman Wood‑Fired Pizza
• Owned by industry vets but often manned by young rookies, this family‑run operation  in Placentia bakes pies with flavorful intention but variable execution. Surprisingly luscious is the Pulled Pork pizza with cilantro, red onions, and mozzarella. And add artistic points for the Pizza Florentine, a brunch pie with ham, three eggs, spinach, and hollandaise. 148 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., 714‑579‑1777, craftsmanpizza.com

IMG_4512-EditMB
Pizzeria Ortica

26. TJ’s Woodfire Pizza
• Fast‑casual TJ’s, a one-time popular food truck, offers New York, Neapolitan, Sicilian, and cracker‑thin Chicago styles. The Brooklyn—
a New Yorker with sausage, pepperoni, ricotta, pecorino Romano, mozzarella, and a really poofy lip—arrives blazing hot, downright juicy, and with compelling flavor intensity. 641 Camino de los Mares, San Clemente, 949‑243‑6433, tjwoodfirepizza.com

25. Taverna
• Pizzeria‑risotteria Taverna is a handsome new spot with high, wood‑beam ceilings and a beautiful courtyard. Its uniformly thin pizzas are made with focaccia dough. We like the Bianca, with prosciutto, arugula, mozzarella, and shaved Parmesan, and the Salsiccia, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Italian sausage, caramelized onions, and peppers. Pizzas are half price from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. 222 Ocean Ave., Laguna Beach, 949‑715‑0821, tavernabylombardi.com

24. Laventina’s Big Cheese Pizza
• Pies here are hand‑tossed, then spend seven minutes in a conveyor oven. But what comes out is deliciously hot, gooey, and oozy, the epitome of guilty pleasure pizza. Around midnight on weekends, all roads from local bars lead to this takeout joint with endless stacks of pizza boxes and carved wooden tikis hung high on one wall. Choose your toppings; our fifty‑fifty chorizo-anchovy was 100 percent satisfying—and hangover free. 2819 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, 949‑675‑1980, laventinaspizza.com

23. Doppio Zero

• Arguably the county’s most unique pizzas, and certainly the fastest, this Surf City joint’s rectangular, Roma‑style pies are displayed behind glass
as they are at sidewalk pizza counters in Italy. Pick a pie and watch the owners snip off your focaccia‑textured slice with scissors. Unctuous and deeply funky, the Truffle Porcini is rib‑sticking, despite its airy, springy base. A large pizza is a whole tray that yields six pieces. 221 Main St., Huntington Beach, 714‑969‑2929, doppiozero‑pizza.com

22. Rance’s Chicago Pizza
• Allow 40 minutes for your stuffed pizza order at Rance’s. The standout Best Seller is made with herbalicious secret spices. The pizza also is unusually topped. On the bottom dough are the fresh spinach and mushrooms and double the cheese, followed by a second, thin layer of dough. On top of it all is a flavorful chunky tomato sauce. The thick rim’s interior is like a flaky pastry, and its exterior is a uniformly beauteous golden hue. Fork and knife required. 1420 Baker St., Costa Mesa, 714‑708‑2143, rancespizza.com

21. Settebello
• Indoor olive trees and a soaring open ceiling provide the ideal setting for Neapolitan pizza, and the cocktails, such as Tequila Mockingbird, are reason enough to go. But when  ordering pizza, go for the supertasty Vico, with grilled sausage, sautéed fennel, red onions, mascarpone, mozzarella, and basil. In addition to the regular offerings, you’ll find $7 pizzettes and $10 fried pizzettes from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. 7864 E. Coast Highway, Newport Coast, 949‑715‑2072, settebello.net

IMG_4378

20. Pizzeria Sapori
• Last year, Sapori Ristorante opened adjacent Pizzeria Sapori and began serving fine Neapolitan pies. The best, Quattro Formaggi, is gone now—white pizzas weren’t moving. On one visit, owner Sal Maniaci was helping at the pizza oven and the Ortolano, with sausage and peppers, was nothing short of inspired. 1080 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, 949‑644‑4220, pizzeriasapori.com

19. Square One Pizza Café
• Light and crispy, the pies here eat more like artisan flatbread, especially given their four‑sided dimension. Dress the 10‑ or 14‑inch squares with your choice of 44 toppings that put the art in artisan—or choose a weekly special such as the fiery Buffalo Chicken, which pairs delightfully with Lucky Duck Agave Blonde
Ale on tap. 5789 Alton Parkway, Irvine, 949-451-1750, sq1pizza.com

 18. Andrea
• If you go solely for pizza at sumptuous Andrea, consider the friendly bar, where classic Italian films silently screen. The pizza options, both thin‑crust, include the Buffalo Cheese Pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, Italian oregano, and basil, and the Pizza Bianca Prosciutto, with San Daniele Prosciutto and arugula. The latter’s surprising subtlety calls for taste‑bud recalibration: The merest dusting of black pepper on the plate takes on outsized significance. 22701 S. Pelican Hill Road, Newport Coast, 949‑467‑6800, andreanb.com

17. Canaletto
• Let the suave bartender fuss over you while you await your utterly traditional wood‑fired pizza that is the opposite of trendy. Supple dough stretched really thin makes the tender base for classic compositions that include a divine Margherita with fresh mozzarella. The price plummets to $5 during midweek happy hour. 545 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949-640-0900, Ilfornaio.com

IMG_4716
Ecco

16. Cucina Enoteca
• Gotta love the leopard char spots on pillowy pale dough that prove this Fashion Island kitchen employs serious heat to alchemize its rotating pizza offerings with a chic sensibility. Who needs tomato sauce when there’s lovely béchamel in the Leek and Guanciale, with fontina and chile flakes. Shaved Apple and Gorgonzola, with fresh rosemary and wine‑braised onions? Get out. 951 Newport Center Drive, 949‑706‑1416, cucinaenoteca.com

15. Jinny’s Pizzeria
• Check out this new fast‑casual place at 4th Street Market. It serves huge pies and single slices of “California‑style pizza with New York attitude” and lets you build your own with add‑ons such as giardiniera and Castelvetrano olives. Our favorites include the White Pizza, with besciamella, aka béchamel sauce, herbed ricotta, sweet garlic, mozzarella, and Parmesan; and the Wild Mushroom, with besciamella, mixed seasonal mushrooms, fontina cheese, and herbs. 201 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, 714‑542‑0281, jinnyspizzeria.com

14. Il Barone
• Tasty and tasteful pizzas at this elegant spot near John Wayne Airport include a Margherita of beguiling simplicity, its diaphanous veil of San Marzano tomatoes topped symmetrically with a dollop of bufala mozzarella and a fresh basil leaf on each slice. A heartier option finds thick pear slices on a bed of smoked scamorza and crescenza cheeses, finished with chestnut honey. Rims billow with abandon. 4251 Martingale Way, Newport Beach, 949‑955‑2755, ilbaroneristorante.com

13. Pitfire Pizza
• Hyper‑seasonal ingredients drive the quick‑fired creations here, so check the daily board before ordering. For year‑round winners, rely on The Burrata Pie oozing fresh burrata, arugula, and hazelnut, or pig out on Sausage Party’s mix of Zoe’s salumi and bacon plus fennel sausage atop bright tomato sauce and milky mozzarella, dribbled with saba. 353 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, 949‑313‑6333, pitfirepizza.com

12. Wise Guys
• Bold and brawny pies with golden crusts, thick or thin, earn respect at both Wise Guys pizzerias. Faintly sweet, hand‑tossed dough is an able foil for savory goods on The Hitman, built on oregano ranch sauce and topped with chicken, smoked provolone, roasted garlic, and bacon. Four sizes and lengthy baking times clash with the menu’s use of the Neapolitan label. Just keep quiet and eat the cannoli; it’s tasty, too. 4957 Yorba Ranch Road, Yorba Linda, 714‑777‑4700; 7606 E. Chapman Road, Orange, 714‑633‑4161, wiseguyspizzeria.com

11. Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana
• A huge, red‑tiled Stefano Ferrara oven is the fire‑breathing heart of Fuoco, where allegiance to 12‑inch Nea pies is steadfast. All 20 time‑honored recipes, from Diavola to Quattro Salumi, are deftly baked at nearly 1,000 degrees for a delicate crust with a soft center. Fuoco is certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. 101 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, 714‑626‑0727, fuocopizza.com

IMG_4312

10. Pizzeria Ortica
• Chef Justin Miller helms the kitchen at this cosmopolitan favorite, where the biga starter for the dough is three centuries old. Escarole lends its name to a superb Neapolitan pie that also features fontina and mozzarella cheeses, cremini mushrooms, and delectable pickled Calabrian chiles. On the more unusual Banderas, little ricotta clouds atop a bedrock of pecorino and mozzarella cheeses provide contrast to kalamata olives and the cornicione’s blackened blisters. Worth noting: A 3 percent “kitchen appreciation fee” for kitchen employee compensation is now added to all checks. 650 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, 714‑445‑4900, pizzeriaortica.com

9. Il Dolce Pizzeria
• Venerated owner‑chef Roberto Bignes renders even an ordinary pepperoni pizza extraordinary at Il Dolce. And now son Andres puts a fresh face on the front of the house. Old‑school Neapolitan pies arrive with a single large knife—you cut the slices. Our fave is the Patata, with sliced fingerling potato, chile oil, mozzarella, Gruyere, pancetta, fresh rosemary, and chives. Pastries by Roberto’s wife, Fernanda, provide a fitting finish. 1902 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, 949‑200‑9107, ildolceoc.com

8. Pirozzi
• Named for Naples‑born owner‑chef Alessandro Pirozzi, the restaurant offers electric conviviality and exceptional Neapolitan pies certified by Italy’s Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN). The rustic Salsiccia, with house‑made wild‑boar sausage, sautéed wild mushrooms, manchego cheese, and fresh mozzarella, is a perennial lure. The San Daniele, with crispy San Daniele prosciutto, San Marzano tomato sauce, goat cheese, spicy oil, and mozzarella is even better. 2929 E.
Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949‑675‑2932, pirozzicdm.com

7. Two Saucy Broads Pizza & Beer ParlorIMG_4803B
• Fullerton’s smallest parking lot doesn’t dim the frenzied consumption at this 35-seat nook that churns out top‑notch, supple-crusted pies including the fetching Pestopalooza. Light-handed saucing and even topping distribution allow the distinctive mix of pesto, artichoke hearts, mushroom, feta, Parmesan, and mozzarella to shine. Choose 10- , 14- , or 18-inch sizes. 108 S. Highland Ave., Fullerton, 714-525-3100, twosaucybroadspizza.com

6. Neapolitan Pizzeria & Birreria
A statue of a pizza baker near the front door hints at the friendliness inside,  but belies the sophistication of lovely pies coming from the kitchen. The Blackberry—with spiced jam, ricotta, applewood‑smoked bacon, and arugula—is a surprisingly harmonious flavor combo. The Calabrese proves a pleasure as well, with spicy salumi, fresh mozzarella, garlic, and organic pomodoro sauce. Can’t decide? Order half one style, half another. 31542 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949‑499‑4531, nealaguna.com

5. Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana
• Forget civil conversation at this noisy Dana Point favorite. Just enjoy the trance induced by the almond‑wood fire as it perfects A‑plus Neapolitan pizzas concocted with masterful technique and premium everything. Thin salame, fior di latte mozzarella, and devilish pepperoncini oil boost the Diavola to heavenly heights. 32860 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, 949‑429‑1102, angelinaspizzeria.com

4. Filomena’s Italian Kitchen
• A teensy jewel box of Italian delights, this shop easily could prosper off its gorgeous 12‑inch pizzas alone. From the formidable crust to each succeeding layer, every element tastes deeply considered in the Meat Pizza, loaded nicely with thick pepperoni, fennel‑spiked sausage, and pieces of rich, soft meatball. The tiny tables here dictate that medium and large pizzas are sold to‑go only. 2400 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, 949‑642‑3810, facebook.com/filomenasoc

3. Pizza e Vino
• Though it was the first O.C. restaurant to be certified by Italy’s Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), Pizza E Vino no longer seeks its approval. It doesn’t need it: This lakeside charmer is in a perpetual dance with Neapolitan perfection. Thoughtfully selected ingredients include fior di latte mozzarella and pecorino Romano cheeses. The anchovies on the Vesuvio are savory Agostino Recca fillets from Sicily. The house sausage on the Guanciale is made from wild boar; also on that pie are fennel pollen, Sicilian oregano, and chile flakes. We want to taste the entire menu. 31441 Santa Margarita Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita, 949‑713‑1500, pizzaevino.net

2. Ecco Pizzeria
• From wildly undulating rim to ephemeral center, the Neapolitan pies at this rustically hip Camp outpost eternally outdo themselves. Consider the transporting Guanciale, with its interplay of pork‑cheek bacon, micro‑slim slices of pear, mozzarella, mascarpone, and Gorgonzola cheeses, caramelized onions, and bits of chives. Or pick the gloriously stinky White Pizza, with crème fraiche, fresh mozzarella, fontina, grana padano, and basil—cheese heaven.
2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714‑444‑3226, eccopizza.com

1. Pizzeria Mozza
• L.A. baking goddess Nancy Silverton graces these special pies with her singular yeasty dough that bakes to a ruddy golden crust with a bubbly crown. This firm‑chewy foundation elevates each carefully composed pizza to a haunting flavor memory. Don’t miss the  Napolitana, an umami opus with famed Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, olives, anchovies, chiles, and fried capers. 800 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949‑945‑1126, pizzeriamozza.com

Facebook Comments