It’s no secret I am a fan of Pizzeria Ortica. I stop by to grab a bite before a show at Segerstrom. Sometimes, I’m there for a drink, and bites, during happy hour, and from time to time, just lunch or dinner with friends. Now, Chef Justin Miller is giving me yet another reason to visit. This Sunday, Pizzeria Ortica launches a brunch menu with libations from one of my favorite OC mixologists, Joel Caruso.
Brunch cocktails include Bloody Marys, Mimosas with housemade POG, or El Duderino, Joel’s version of a White Russian … as well as an array of beers and wines are all available to pair your brunch with.
Diners will begin with complimentary Fresh Baked Morning Buns ($3 for 3pcs if you want more) brushed with tomato conserva and sprinkled with Parmigiano. Generally, when someone tells me “morning buns” I immediately think they’re SWEET! Unlike most, anything sweet first thing in the morning is a shock to my palate, so I’m in love with Chef Justin’s flaky, savory buns to whet my appetite.
Other offerings from the “Small Plates” section include Housemade English Muffins ($6) which I highly recommend ordering one to share. You might want more, but start with one as there are many things on the menu you’ll want to partake in. These muffins are the perfect texture – crispy exterior with a fluffy interior. The salty butter combines with the tart house-made preserves in perfect harmony leaving me longing for more. The muffin is superb!
Heirloom Tomato Rubbed Toast ($9) is Parmigiano Reggiano and prosciutto on top of thick cut rustic bread. I appreciate the use of top quality ingredients without messing with it too much.
Next, you’ll find a stellar selection under “Eggs & Such” including many egg-centric dishes such as Baked Eggs in San Marzano Tomatoes ($14) which is still bubbling when it arrives at the table. Zucchini ribbons and the “salad” of chiles and parsley add brightness to the eggs and tomatoes. It is a stunning vegetarian dish packed with layers of robust flavors.
Another favorite is Chef Justin’s version of shrimp and grits. Wood Grilled Shrimp ($15) offers a trio of smoke-kissed shrimp atop a fried green tomato slice on a bed of creamy polenta. The burst of citrus is immediate, and the perfectly executed shrimp snaps in my mouth.
Housemade Fennel Sausage ($14) is a play on Italian Wedding Soup with braised cavolo nero (aka black kale), and a little kick from Calabrian chiles. You may add an egg for $3, but I would forego just because it is a refreshing change from the other dishes, especially if you’re sharing everything.
Other dishes we try include:
Frittata ($14) is fair, elevated by the bits of potato dotted in between the rapini and smoked pancetta. It didn’t stand out among the host of dishes we try, but it is what I call “the safe menu option” geared towards those who are less adventurous and less willing to step outside their comfort zone. It is also great for those who are not okay with runny egg yolks.
Roasted Asparagus ($16) with speck, hazelnut breadcrumbs, poached eggs in a Fontina cheese fonduta pretty much speaks for itself. An effortless, yet bold composition, geared towards satiating my finicky salty palate.
Oven Roasted Skirt Steak Sandwich ($16) combines roasted tomato, arugula and a fantastic horseradish panna between the English muffin we try earlier. Surprisingly, I would prefer not to have an egg on this sandwich as it is a solid offering on its own. The runny egg yolk takes away from the already perfect flavor profiles of all the existing components.
Several pizzas are available including Ricotta ($16) a sweet version using mascarpone, Chef Justin’s house-made ricotta, and strawberry jam. There is a sprinkling of mozzarella but not overwhelming at all. Order this for the table to share as a sweet ending.
650 Anton Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626