O.C.’s Best: Neapolitan Pizza

For authenticity, the only style to consider is the version hailing from the birthplace of this beloved dish

Thin-crusted and baked in a 1,000-degree, wood-burning oven for less than 90 seconds, Neapolitan or Napoli-style pizzas should be blistered, unapologetically wet in the middle, and eaten the way Italians do: folded, or with a knife and fork. Here are five local places where you can devour Naples’ culinary gift to the world.

1. Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana
Run by an affable father and son, this place serves up fare, above, as close to Naples as you can experience in O.C. Franco Ceccarelli will proudly tell you that his father, Michele, was the only pizzaiolo on the island of Procida just off Naples before he taught him the family trade, which Franco has passed down to his son Tullio. They usually can be found chatting in Italian near the imported brick oven of the pizzeria they opened in 2012. The margherita is a thing of beauty, simple and sublime, and easily could hold its own against Naples’ best: the San Marzano tomato sauce is bright and tangy, and the crust yields the right amount of char and chew, perfectly billowy at the edges. If you like a little heat, get the Diavola, with spicy salami, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and crushed red pepper. And be sure to finish with the decadent Nutellamisu. $11 to $20. 101 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, 714-626-0727, fuocopizza.com

2. Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana
Sandro Nardone left his home of Atina, Italy, two years ago and came straight to coastal O.C. to open his first stateside pizzeria. Nardone uses a mother yeast, or criscito, to hand-shape his dough before it goes into a hot oven, fueled by orange wood. The brick oven is front and center as you enter the pizzeria, just like you’d find in Italy, and the pies are topped with imported fior di latte, or cow’s milk mozzarella—the same variety most Naples pizzerias offer. You’ll find all the markings of a Napoli pie, from the leopard-spotted bottom to a tender and chewy crust. The margherita is a cheese-lover’s dream, with superstretchy gobs of mozz. $10 to $21. 32860 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, 949-429-1102, angelinaspizzerianapoletana.com 

3. Pizzeria Ortica
This is founding chef David Myers’ ode to Napoli. He uses a 300-year-old biga, or starter dough, from Italy to make the 14 pizzas on the menu. While the pies are a bit more on the chewy-and-soft side than competing versions, Ortica’s flavors are satisfying. Especially the Alla Norma, with cherry tomatoes, basil, eggplant, smoked mozzarella, and ricotta salata; and the Milanesa, with fontina, mascarpone, asparagus, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and fried egg. $12 to $19. 650 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, 714-445-4900, pizzeriaortica.com

4. Pizza e Vino

As the first pizzeria in Orange County to be certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (the others are Fuoco and Settebello), Pizza e Vino’s pies are made from hand-stretched dough with imported fior di latte mozzarella, and they arrive unsliced. Try the fennel sausage pizza with oregano and chili flake, or the 24-month aged Prosciutto di Parma—it’s solid salty goodness. The only caveat is the wait for your order; have a glass of wine and relax. $11 to $30. 31441 Santa Margarita Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita, 949-713-1500, pizzaevino.net

5. Il Dolce

The pride is evident at this cozy neighborhood restaurant, which, for the last few years, has been quietly churning out fine renditions of Neapolitan pie. You’ll note the piles of almond wood that fuel the oven: always a good sign. The patata pizza isn’t the most photogenic, but the combination of mozzarella, Gruyere, and fingerling potatoes flecked with pancetta, rosemary, and chives is irresistibly good. And the prosciutto pizza with fresh arugula is a reliable pairing of salty and tangy. Also try the asparago pizza, with fresh asparagus, fontina, pancetta, and mozzarella, all crowned with a golden fried egg. $14 to $18. 1902 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, 949-200-9107, ildolceoc.com 

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