I’ve been asked to do some ‘challenges’, ‘comparisons’ if you will on a range of different things. I’ve been thinking about this and decided to start with pizza, something everyone loves, especially my son. I am partial to thin crust pizza, but won’t write off a good thick crust by any means. Please note I haven’t been to ALL the pizzerias in Orange County (and I’m only covering OC as it wouldn’t be fair to include LA as well) and the list only pertains to pizzas I’ve tried so far this year.
Cucina Enoteca (31 Fortune Drive, Irvine, 92618. Tel: 949-861-2222) — this latest Italian eatery at Irvine Spectrum makes its pizzas in house and they’re good depending on which one you choose. I really enjoyed the Pear & Gorgonzola with caramelized onions, candied pecans, arugula and aged balsamic.
Pizzeria Ortica (650 Anton Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Tel: 714-445-4900) — crust possesses a nice chew and the toppings are top notch without overwhelming the pizza. This is the closest destination for me to get a stellar pie and honestly, one of the top on my list in Orange County. My favorites include: guanciale and the Margherita.
La Rocco (122 S El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672. Tel: 949-366-8890) — New York style thin crust pizza can be had by the slice or the whole shebang. The crust is decent but not fabulous and while toppings are interesting enough, can sometimes be sparse and scarce. The Whitestone with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and fresh garlic is good as is the Puttanesca with artichoke hearts, black pecorino, mozzarella, fresh basil, garlic and oil. The La Rocco with sausage and pepperoni is on the greasy side but still flavorful.
Sonny’s Pizza and Pasta (429 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672. Tel: 949-498-2540)– if you have pizza in your name, I’d expect you to have decent pizza. If you have pasta in your name I’d expect you to have decent pasta. Sadly, this was not the case here. Not only did we wait 40 minutes for our food to arrive, the pizza was greasy and the crust was dismal. It was hard like cardboard like the dough did not have time to rise. We ordered the eggplant pizza and it tasted like the eggplant had been fried and left around for days in oil that needed to be changed over a week ago. Everything about this pizza was WRONG!
Pizzeria Mozza (800 W Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA. Tel: 949-945-1126) — the hype is seriously the only thing going for them here — just hype. I’ve had their pizzas on several occasions and sadly, they were just average at best. While the outer crust was nice and chewy, the middle of the pizza was soggy and overly greasy each time. The fennel sausage pizza was excruciatingly salty — and you know I love salt — while the artichoke was bland and underwhelming. At an average price of $15-$17 per pie — slightly larger than a personal pie — it was more than disappointing.
Z Cafe (3333 Bear Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Tel: 714-545-5500) — for a pseudo fast food place, Z Cafe’s various pizzas are actually pretty damn good. Ingredients used are fresh and The toppings are flavorful and the crust is good enough for an establishment which doesn’t specialize exclusively in pizzas nor touts itself to be a pizzeria by any means. The Curry Chicken and Tuscan are my favorites.
While this is by no means all the pizzas in Orange County, it is what I’ve tried so far to date. Maybe at the end of the year, I can re-visit pizzas and give a little more conclusive comparison. If there is a place you feel deserves a mention, by all means leave me a comment here and we’ll try to get to it.