>**An abridged version of this can be found at the OC Register’s Food Frenzy**
Eating at Pizzeria Ortica reminds me of eating in those wonderful restaurants in New York City, except the weather is better and people are tanner.
I love the elongated dining room, together with the open wood fire kitchen bring together a mix of classy and classic to the trendy yet casual atmosphere.
farro with seafood salad|
Mahesh suggested we come for lunch and I jumped at the chance since it’s been a while since my first visit. It took a while to decide as I perused the menu, we found a 3 course prix fixe for $17 with one or two selections I was interested in, so I opted to order a la carte.
We started with Farro con frutti di mare ($8), a seafood salad of mussel, calamari and shrimp tossed with Calabrian chilies and farro. The nutty and chewy texture of the farro was an excellent accompaniment to the perfectly cooked seafood. I’m not a mussel fan but these were not chewy, very tender and delicious.Calamari was soft and flavorful. The only complaint I have is I wanted more!
smoked cod salad|
Merluzzo affumicato con panzanella ($8) is a wood-oven smoked black cod salad using shredded cod tossed in a tomato and bread salad. Chunks of the black cod are left for a different textural experience. The smokiness of the cod was not overpowering and the both of us could not stop eating it. In fact, I wanted to order an extra one, but stopped myself seeing we had more dishes to come.
roasted veggies with burrata|
I remember eating the burrata here before and wanted Mahesh to try it, so I ordered Verdure al forno con burrata ($8/$12), soft, gooey burrata served with oven roasted vegetables and a basil oil drizzle. Orange and red peppers, zucchini and cippolini onions are roasted with olive oil and we eat them with the delicate burrata. Absolutely heavenly! This is one of those dishes which will make you close your eyes to take in every taste, every texture, everything!
After the appetizers had been consumed, we waited patiently for our pizzas to arrive. I’ve been on a guanciale fix lately and whenever I see that on a pizza menu, I always feel inclined to order it. I find the saltiness of the guanciale goes so well with pizza and makes another great alternative to other meat toppings such as sausage or prosciutto.
Pizza con guanciale, ricotta e cipollotto ($15) was the first option which caught my eye. Fresh ricotta, house-cured pork cheek, scallions and fennel pollen combine together to give the pizza both the saltiness and the freshness from the fresh scallions.
We also had the Pizza Margherita ($12), an Italian favorite. Crushed San Marzano tomatoes, mozarella and basil give this very simple pizza the perfect balance of sweet, tart, salty and freshness in every bite. This is also the house favorite pizza I was told.
The restaurant was extremely busy during lunch, as it is located near offices and I did notice our server had a lot of tables to wait on, but even so, she was on top of things. I can’t wait to come back again when that pizza craving hits.
You can park your car in the structure and the restaurant validates, so don’t forget to get your ticket stamped before you go.
Pizzeria Ortica, 650 Anton Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Tel: 714-445-4900
*** Photography By Mahesh ***