Everyone has an opinion when it comes to pizza. For me the crust is the key to a perfect pizza, followed by the toppings. There is a huge debate when it comes to Italian-style pizzas versus American-style pizzas, and often, is a source of conflict when it comes to deciding where to go.
When my son wants pizza, he is very specific where it comes from. If we are going out, or I am bringing it home for him, his number one pick is from Brick in San Clemente. Of course, this only happens when we’re in that part of Orange County, but his favorite is the simple tomato-based, prosciutto-topped delight Chef David Pratt makes. True to its moniker, Brick houses a brick oven where almost all the dishes are either cooked, or finished in so the pizzas come out with the leopard spots from the wood-burning oven.
Another favorites is Pizzeria Ortica. This Costa Mesa restaurant has been a favorite since day one. The pizzas here are Napoletana-style which means a wet center and the char spots created by the wood burning oven. Chef Justin Miller’s pizzas are all delicious — my favorites include the fennel sausage, as well as the Margherita. I prefer a no-so-wet pizza, so whenever I order a pizza here, I ask for it to be “well done” so it’s not as soft in the middle. They’ll happily oblige. The Margherita is offered for a mere $8 during Happy Hour which runs Sundays to Thursdays starting at 7pm until close.
If you haven’t been to Pizzeria Sapori yet, then you should. Owner Sal Maniaci’s pizzas are cooked in a Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) oven and requires only a few minutes in the 900 degree heat. I love the crust on the main part of the pizza, and while the edge is a tad too dense, I like the overall chewy and salty finish. One of my favorites is the Casertana ($18), a white pizza topped with sausage, broccoli rabe and smoked bufala mozzarella.
Cucina Enoteca is always a great spot whenever we are at Irvine Spectrum, and the pizzas here are respectable. Chef Chad Urata offers a good selection — about six to choose from — ranging from the staples including Margherita, to the seasonal options which changes every few months. My favorite are the pancetta with Brussels sprouts, or the one topped with fennel sausage.
There are nights when we absolutely need pizza for delivery — a kids’ sleepover or when I’m too tired to cook. This is when Johnny’s Real New York Pizza comes in. Our favorite is The Andolini ($15.95 small – $25.99 extra large) comprising house-made meatballs, Genoa salami, sweet Italian sausage, mozzarella and tomato sauce. The extra large is huge and works well when you have a bunch of teenage boys to feed.