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Critiqua of Ortica

Last night I ate at Pizzeria Ortica. Here is my message David Myers - you should be ashamed of yourself. This place is embarrassingly mediocre. Compared to Pizzeria Mozza, the restaurant that Ortica was theoretically modeled after, Ortica is a disaster. Mozza is flat out spectacular an I would do anything to eat there again. I will never go back to Ortica, does that tell the story? if not, I'll describe the food. Our waitress suggested that appetizers and the food in general are good for sharing. Really? The portions, other than the pizzas, were tiny. Our party of six was immediately disappointed at the arrival of lamb skewers and the artichoke / octopus appetizers. You could literally feel our excitement over trying a new restaurant drain out like a popped water balloon. The "skewers" consisted of 2, and you literally could've used a tweezers to pull the pieces of lamb off, as well as to eat the microscopic chunks. The pizzas looked good, charred crust, interesting colors but they are nothing beyond that. Nothing special at all as a matter of fact. I make my own pizza at home without a wood oven and my date, who had also been to Mozza with me before this, remarked after dinner that she likes mine better. So do I, and that pisses me off. The crust was wet in the middle, failing to remain crispy even right out of the oven, and towards the end of the meal, the cheese on the "ala norma" pizze was like rubber as was the crust (just an FYI, I use Trader Joe's crust which costs .99, and its better than this, even a day later). Our Salame Piccante e fungi pizza was ok. The salame was the best part, but that's about it. The pizza with guanciale and ricotta was decent, only because the piece of guanciale was good. You got one piece of meat per slice of pizza (oh and to add insult to injury, they did a crappy job of slicing the pizzas as well!), but it is painful how little I care about returning. The pastas got a much better review from the table. I agree to a certain extent, but the portions were tiny. I had the lamb ragu, and it was more like pulled lamb, on pasta with some cream slathered on the plate. Not much nuance, or depth to the dish at all. The space itself, doesn't help either. It's really long and narrow with a weird vibe - the lighting makes one wonder if it's actually open or if it's just testing while waiting for the actual lights to arrive. Finally, I had a decent hazelnut gelato for dessert. Overall, the bill for each couple was $87, and we did not order a bottle of wine. That for a dinner of pizza and pasta that is flat out extortion. That realization was the final nail in the coffin and guaranteed my never returning. I've never tried any of Myers' other restaurants, but now I won't. This one is a joke. Do whatever it takes to go to Mozza, ignore this place and hope it goes away.

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  1. Myers' Sona underwhelmed me, and now this review. Gee.

    Was this the South Coast location?

    1 Reply
    1. re: J.L.

      Yes, it was the South Coast location.

    2. I am not a fan of Pizzeria Mozza, but I absolutely agree with you the Ortica is about the worst pizza experience ever. I also agree that I can make better pizza at home using TJ's pizza dough. Although David Myer's Sona was excellent when it first opened, we felt that our last meal there was disappointing. Also, we have been to Comme Ca twice and were not overly impressed either time.

      The best pizza we've found in the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa/Irvine area is that served at Cucina Alessa in Newport Beach, an excellent little Italian spot on PCH at the north end of Newport Beach.

      7 Replies
        1. re: josephnl

          Alessa is a gem. Owner/chef is from Italy. Had an excellent piece of swordfish there. Good wine list, good desserts, all home made. Parking can be a problem.

          1. re: CynD

            Here is a link to the place. I look forward to trying it.

          2. re: josephnl

            I absolutely agree with you the Ortica is about the worst pizza experience ever. I also agree that I can make better pizza at home using TJ's pizza dough.
            Interesting to note that josephnl has never made pizza at home and reports of one being able to make better pizza than Ortica at home using TJ's pizza dough are greatly exaggerated.


            1. re: Porthos

              Correct! I have never made real pizza at home. I have made frozen TJ's pizzas at home as well as tried Boboli's at home. I have participated in the baking of TJ's pizza dough pizza at a pizza party, I enjoyed all of these more than the wet and soggy pizza that was served to me and my guest at Ortica!

              1. re: josephnl

                Now I'm confused. In the post Porthos linked to you said

                "Should I buy Boboli's (have never tried them), should I buy TJ's pizza dough and bake it myself...or is there another easy solution."

                Which led me to think that you had never tried TJ's or Bobobli before. Now you say that you have made those at home (or at least in the case of TJ's - at a pizza party at someone's house other than yours I assume). Which one is correct?

                1. re: Servorg

                  Gosh you guys are getting so analytical! The whole point of my homemade pizza post was to see if there is some easy way to make good pizza at home. I have actually tried something like a Boboli that I bought at one of the chains...I don't think it was a true brand name Boboli, and yes I have had TJ's pizza dough at someone elses home during a party. I would indeed like to make good homemade pizza if this can easily be done...ergo my post to which I received some useful and nice responses...and yes, I do not enjoy the pizza at Ortica!

          3. Haven't been for about 3months and don't dispute your experience but the two time we were there we had stellar service and a decent meal. Thought the portions were fine and really enjoyed the fresh pasta.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chris2269

              You're right, the pasta was good. Just like the LA times review said, the pasta was the best part. I don't have an issue with portion size unless a restaurant insists on charging large prices for tiny portions, and in this case I take issue with it because it decreases the value proposition. Plus when the server TELLS us that things are good for sharing, particularly the microscopic appetizers, then I also take issue with it and again it decreases the value proposition.

              1. re: OC Mutt

                And besides, with the name of the place being Pizzeria Ortica, you would kinda think they'd have their act together in that regard. Doesn't sound like it at all. I had been looking forward to trying this place out, hoping it would be sublime. I think I'll check out Cucina Alessa instead. Sounds more authentic & less $$ on top of it.

            2. I agree with OC Mutt. I talked my whole family into going there before a Performing Arts Center performance and we were all underwhelmed. The portions were tiny on everything except the pizzas, the service was mediocre, and the overall ambiance was lacking. No need to make this a priority.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Patrick Strader

                Yup. I don't know how S. Irene V. from the LA times could've given them so much slack. She's usually right on.

                1. re: OC Mutt

                  SIV is slipping of late... 4 stars for Bazaar?!

                  1. re: J.L.

                    You're saying Bazaar isn't worth the stars? I haven't tried it, but wanted to after that review.

                    1. re: OC Mutt

                      Bazaar get 3 stars, but not 4, from me.

              2. Wow, glad to know I don't have to make the trip. We too felt underwhelmed by Sona, moreso by the room than the food, which was decent. Wouldn't go back either, there's too many good places to spend our money on.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Phurstluv

                  Well put. My sentiment is exactly the same. I don't mind spending money or making a trip, if it's worth it. I'm thrilled to pay the check. I can't wait to return to Mozza, even though it is a huge, HUGE pain in the butt to get reservations, park, you name it. Worth every bit of effort.

                2. Went there with my brother. Our favorite pizza in California is A16 in San Francisco.

                  We were not impressed.

                  Now we went at around 4ish and they weren't serving lunch or dinner. They only offered pizza or apetizers at the bar. The bartender never offered us silverware we just leaned over the bar and grabbed some finally. When we asked her about a recommended wine she seemed unsure. We asked her what a particular wine tasted like and she said "earthy." I'm not going to spend 50$ on a bottle of wine that the bartender has no clue what it tastes like. We got the roasted artichoke and it was okay. We ordered the spinach with egg pizza and the sausage pizza. The crust tasted pretty good and the toppings were okay. The egg was overdone so there was very little yolk to spread around.

                  The biggest problem was that a good part of the middle of the pizza was soggy. I'm not sure if it's the oven or the make up of the crust but I can't eat wet pizza crust.

                  As I left I noticed something that might be the cause. Maybe. At A16 once they get the oven to the right temperature they take all the wood out. There's still a cloud of smoke but by taking the wood out the heat is very even. The pizza at Ortica was cooked while they still had wood in the oven. Mabye that's leading to the unevenness of the pizza but I'm not sure....

                  It was okay but there still is no pizza in the OC that lives up to greatness.

                  Nick's: B+ (best pizza is the pesto)
                  Haus of Pizza (favorite sourdough crust but they put way too much cheese and sauce on it)
                  Z pizza (used to be good until there became 100s of them. Their crust is different now. I used to live on their slices of cheese with hot oil poured on the crust)
                  That place in Seal Beach (I've had some decent pizza there and saw Yogi Berra there)

                  I could go on and on. Good, maybe very good, but nothing that calls me back every week.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: meltedcheese

                    Pizzeria Mozza will be opening a Corona Del Mar location. The original location is nothing short of spectacular, let's hope they can duplicate it by the sea.

                    1. re: OC Mutt

                      you mean I have to deal with Corona Del Mar people? Can't they just put it in Stanton, Sioux Village in Garden Grove or on Wallace in the westside of Costa Mesa....

                      No offense to Corona Del Mar people who look at the people at their table while they eat and not who's walking in the door. And even then it might not be as bad as the patio scene during Taco Tuesdays at Taco Mesa when there's 10 brand new choppers in the parking lot.

                      Pizza Mozza. I'm excited. Thanks OC Mutt. You need to wear a shirt with your name on it so people can buy you beer.

                      1. re: meltedcheese

                        Go for the food Meltedcheese, ignore the people - that's a good rule for anywhere you go. As long as they're not loud drunks or screaming children, the people around you don't really matter. I'll get to work on that t-shirt!

                      2. re: OC Mutt

                        Really...in CDM. I can't imagine I haven't heard about this. What location?

                        1. re: cdmedici

                          It was at the end of this article that Joe Bastianich talked about the CDM location. No address was given.


                          1. re: OC Mutt

                            Nice! There is a big space available right by Panini. Panini was going to expand and take that space but they pulled out of it.

                            1. re: cdmedici

                              Just found out from a pretty reliable source. Thankfully not in CDM but where the real people of Newport live. They are taking the old Dolce location on PCH on Mariners Mile.

                      3. re: meltedcheese

                        The "wet center" issue with Neapolitan style pizzas can ce a problem..Ive eaten 3 times at A16 and the margherita pies all had wet centers that needed to be eaten carefuly...the pies w/o tomato sauce didnt....My pizza experience at Ortica yesterday had no "wet center" issue, even the Margherita was done the way most gringos like it. hummmmmph!

                      4. I find it so strange that Ortica is trying to be exactly like Mozza but clearly they are not meeting slice to slice. From the logo design, food presentation, menu, its a knockoff.
                        I found the serving sizes to small, prices expensive, the gelato had large chunks of ice in it, and the pizza was soggy. Grrrr!

                        I love mozza, yes it is very very different then NY pizza, but I love the creativity and exotic ingredients. Its well worth the trip!