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Best Pizza in Orange County?

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Any recommendations for pizza places in Orange County? I like Gina's, but I'm in a pizza rut...Help!

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  1. Have you tried Z Pizza? There are several chains in OC. Pretty good. They also make a great brick oven pizza at Roman Cucina in Newport Beach and Laguna Hills.

    1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/739131 | OC pizza freaks?

      1. We have an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza place in Rancho Santa Margarita that I think is very good -- Pizza e Vino. http://www.pizzaevino.net/

        1. Pizzeria Ortico if you're looking for something Mozza-esque.

          3 Replies
          1. re: gbrl

            The pizza styles at Ortica and Mozza are quite different

            1. re: honkman

              Then I assume that the constant comparisons between the two are as random as pizzeria bianco and papa john's? All three of the former are smaller (perhaps artisanal) "gourmet" wood fired pizzas comprised of more selective toppings, no?

              1. re: gbrl

                Ortica is using a rather classical napolitean style pizza. Their pizza dough is very close to what you would get in Napoli. Mozza has a very different pizza dough which is very different to the ones in Napoli. Different taste, much thicker, more breadlike. Both pizzas are good but hardly comparable. It's comparing apples to oranges.

          2. We've had rather good pizza twice at ECCO Restaurant in the Camp on Bristol near South Coast Plaza.

            1. I've been to ECCO and Ortica but my consistent fav is Il Dolce in Costa Mesa.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cdmedici

                We must try Il Dolce. We do like ECCO, but have not yet been to Il D. It's now at the top of our list to try!

                1. re: cdmedici

                  I'm fairly addicted to the Margherita Pizza at Il Dolce. The owner cooks it perfectly out of his wood fire pizza oven every time. The fresh mozzarella . . . so good!

                2. the best deep dish in OC and arguably the best in socal would be Tony's Little Italy in Placentia

                  Little Italy
                  627 S San Jacinto Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: frank828

                    Agreed. I just moved to Brea from West Hollywood and enjoyed a nice deep dish from Tony's Little Italy on Wednesday. I forgot to call ahead since they make each pizza to order. 40 minutes per pizza went by quicker than expected. The crust was buttery and crisp. The sauce was not too sweet or cloying as some pizza sauces can be. Very nice fennel in the sausage and good pepperoni. I would actually go back to Tony's Little Italy for thin crust over Mammalucco's based on my experience.

                    2500 E Imperial Hwy, Brea, CA 92821

                    Little Italy
                    627 S San Jacinto Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

                    1. re: js76wisco

                      "I would actually go back to Tony's Little Italy for thin crust over Mammalucco's based on my experience."

                      Really? We tried it a couple of years ago and weren't crazy about it for some reason (though I can't remember what that reason was). I'll have to make sure we give it another try soon.

                      2500 E Imperial Hwy, Brea, CA 92821

                      1. re: OCSteve

                        I found Tony''s to be a very long wait for a mediocre pizza. Twice.

                        1. re: Funwithfood

                          I wouldn't emphasize the wait, Funwithfood. It's a very thick (and heavy) pie that requires 35-40 minutes to cook through, and calling ahead solves that part of the problem. I'd emphasize the mediocrity. At least that's what I found last week, but, like you, I'll give them another chance (and then post more details here).


                          1. re: Harry Niletti

                            I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts, Harry. There are a lot of opinions on both sides of the Tony's debate. As I have said on other posts, my experiences there have been great, so I fall on the pro-Tony's side.

                            1. re: Harry Niletti

                              I gave them another try, went on errands after ordering.

                              The small pie works better for deep dish. It was better, not thrilling.

                              1. re: Funwithfood

                                glad you gave it another try. btw i prefer the stuffed pizza over the standard deep dish there.

                                also i have better luck with toppings with less water in them

                                1. re: frank828

                                  Is the stuffed pizza like a huge calzone?

                                  1. re: Funwithfood

                                    No, it's a deep-dish pizza with a thin layer of extra dough on the top (underneath the tomatoes).

                      2. re: frank828

                        This is very good.

                        1. re: frank828

                          Ive been driving to Tonys for a few yrs from Anaheim because once you have had the best your spoiled. I call ahead an hour, 45 min isnt long enough, if someone knows of a better Chi deep dish then say something, im open for ideas.

                        2. I'm surprised no one has mentioned one of my favorites yet!

                          Give Haus of Pizza in Costa Mesa a shot. It's in the Paul Mitchell plaza across from OCC and has excellent pizza -- you can do take out too.

                          Haus of Pizza
                          1500 Adams Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                          1. As someone who makes my own Neapolitan style Pies at home, These guys impressed me with their passion, dedication, and flavors. They rock!

                            Pizza E Vino
                            31441 Santa Margarita Pkwy, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Phood

                              I'll second the thumbs up foe Pizza e Vino....though the crust on 2 of our 4 pies was way undercooked, the other 2 were excellent.

                            2. As big a fan as I am of the pizzas at Mozza, I'm loving the chewy charred crust of Ortica more and more these days. The Margherita, Margherita with spicy salame added, and the Norma (cherry tomatoes, basil, eggplant, smoked mozzarella, ricotta salata) are all addictive.

                              1. Just to update this a bit in May of 2012, here are my favorite pizza places in Orange County in order of preference:

                                1. Mozza (PCH in Newport Beach). Fantastic, world class pizza. Thin, perfect crust, with a billowing, delicious cornicione which is shatteringly crisp on the outside yet tender on the inside. Amazing. All toppings are first rate. Maybe the overall experience at Mozza is a too salty, but that is a small criticism. It's my favorite pizza in or out of Orange County. Nancy Silverton is a goddess.

                                2. Bistango (Von Karman between Campus and Dupont, Irvine). Not known as a pizza restaurant, but their pizza is really excellent (as is all the rest of the food). Thin, absolutely delicious crust, quality toppings, comes out hot as blazes. It's fantastic.

                                3. Ecco (In The Camp, Bristol at Baker, Costa Mesa). Really nice, thin crust pizzas in a super cool, easy atmosphere. This is really more of a restaurant than a pizzeria, but the pizzas are good. Nice ingredients too.

                                4. Il Dolce (19th and Harbor, Costa Mesa) A proper Neapolitan pizza made with Caputo 00 Italian flour. Very chewy, softish crust. If you don't like the middle soggy (I don't), ask them to cook it a bit more than usual. Service and atmosphere is "meh", but the pizza is good. Owners are from Argentina of all places.

                                5. Pizzeria Ortica (650 Anton Blvd. near South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa). They go to great lengths to make good pizza here, and it is good. Somehow it seems it should be even better than it is. Very true to the Neapolitan style, which means soggy in the center. Ask them to burn it a bit if you don't like that soggy center. Toppings are first rate. Very nice atmosphere. Full bar, and plenty of other things to eat. Try the pizza with an egg cracked onto the middle as it comes out of the oven. Pretty delicious.

                                Those would be my top five. I have not been to Pane e Vino in Rancho Santa Margarita so don't take my failure to include them as an indictment. I just haven't made it down to South County to try it. Z Pizza is a chain and therefore I can't bring myself to rate it along with those mentioned above, but for a chain they do make pretty good pizza, and they have their origins in the OC. Gina's is pretty mediocre for pizza but they do make good sandwiches, especially the meatball.

                                That's the update for 2012.


                                20 Replies
                                1. re: tinroofrusted

                                  Nice summary for each. It's clear you prefer crispy crust though since you're ranking the crispy "Neapolitan" crust of Ecco and its mediocre sparse toppings ahead of the higher quality Ortica ;)

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    Yes, I really don't care for the classic doughy Neapolitan crust. It just doesn't taste cooked to me. I agree that Ortica's toppings are better than Ecco's.

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Porthos...you'll be happy to learn that after past experiences at Ortica that I thought were subpar, based upon your repeated sterling recommendations, we returned this evening for dinner and had a terrific meal. We started with a special of the evening...bruschetta with olive oil poached tuna over roasted cauliflower and dandelion greens, and a salad. Both were excellent. We then had two pizzas, one with salami and also a margherita. They were both very good. Yes, the center was wetter and floppier than I would prefer, but unlike at least one previous experience, the dough did not seem raw. The toppings were first-rate and the crust was tasty, chewy and well-baked. I personally prefer the pizzas at Mozza, but these were very good. For dessert, we had a chocolate-caramel budino and some pistachio gelato. Both were excellent. We sat at the bar where our service was terrific...far better than we had at a table on our previous visit. We will definitely return.

                                      Recently we have had pretty poor pizzas at Cucina Enoteca in the Irvine Spectrum. I had previously recommended this restaurant...but definitely no longer.

                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        I was there last week also. It seems like they have a few more seasonal appetizers.

                                        Glad you liked it. Did you try the Margherita or al Norma?

                                        They also do some nice cocktails even if they are a little on the small side ;)

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Yes for the margherita, no for the Norma...next time. Drinks (negroni's) were very good, and yes, a bit small. The bottle of wine was reasonably priced...and a full 750!

                                          1. re: josephnl

                                            Now I am certain you will love Sotto!

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              Will give it a try. Probably after the holidays! Thanks for pushing me to explore!

                                    2. re: tinroofrusted

                                      Wow, I've been to Bistango many times and never even noticed they served pizza. Thanks for the tip!

                                      1. re: BubblyOne

                                        Me, too! This is great!

                                      2. re: tinroofrusted

                                        I love Mozza and we ate there this past Sun. I was surprised how they have packed the tables in there, compared to a couple months ago. Might as well put communal tables, since there was five inches between our tables.

                                        1. re: tinroofrusted

                                          For clarification, it's Pizza e Vino in Rancho Santa Margarita and it's quite good.

                                          1. re: JAB

                                            I second that, my wife and I love this place ! Wonderful pizza and also an interesting wine list with some great by-the-glass choices and very high-quality stemware - which makes all the sense in the world when good wine is served but IMO is often overlooked.

                                            1. re: mikester

                                              I agree and will add that their red wines are served at Cellar temperature which adds to the enjoyment for me as well.

                                          2. re: tinroofrusted

                                            Interesting list! I love Bistango...it's a very solid OC restaurant. It serves excellent meats, steaks and chops. Their pizza isn't bad, but I wouldn't put it in the same league as some of the others mentioned. My top five list today would be:

                                            1) Mozza in OC...after a few really unpleasant experiences at the LA location, thanks to the urging of Porthos, I've had a few terrific experiences in Newport Beach. The problem in LA was noise and crowds. In NB, this can be avoided by going during off hours (late afternoon), when the restaurant is quiet, and seats at the pizza bar are readily available. Really good crust, with great toppings.
                                            2) Cucina Enoteca in the Irvine Spectrum is my new 2nd choice. Their pizza is very good, and I love their wine policy...retail + $8 corkage. You can find some real bargains on wine there. The pizza crust is very good, their toppings are of good quality, and the ambiance is rather fun.
                                            3) Pizza e Vino in Rancho Santa Margarita...quite a trek to get there, but their pie is very good!
                                            4) ECCO makes good pizza's, imho. I enjoy thin crust, somewhat crispy pizzas, and this is their style. I enjoy their salads, and some of their entrees also.
                                            5) Pizza Ortica, I guess, needs to be included in any list of the top 5 in OC. I personally don't care for the floppy center Neopolitan style that is their forte, but others whose opinion I respect love it, and therefore, it should be considered one of OC's best.

                                            1. re: josephnl

                                              I was eying Cucina Enoteca anyways but, your putting it over Pizza e Vino seals the deal for me to check it out sooner rather than later.

                                              1. re: JAB

                                                I'm not sure I was correct in putting Cucina Enoteca above PeV solely on the pizza quality. Honestly, I think I am being influenced on the whole package. PeV is such a drag to get to from where I live, and the wine policy at Cucina E is really awesome. Their pizza is very good, but I'm really not sure that I think it's better than PeV...perhaps more a tie.

                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                  I did finally get over to Cucina Enoteca lat week and tried out a pizza with mushrooms, fontina cheese and fennel sausage. It was very tasty indeed, although the sausage wasn't really that great. But the cheese was outstanding, and the crust was good. Not great, but enjoyable. It wasn't soggy in the middle either, which I appreciated.

                                              2. re: josephnl

                                                I am definitely going to go check out Cucina Enoteca. I live in Irvine and haven't even been there yet! Thanks for posting that. I do want to get to Pizza e Vino in RSM as well. It's just not on any of my beaten paths.

                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                  PeV turned me off when I saw that their dough mixer was sitting on the floor, kneading the dough right next to the restroom.

                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                    After 3 very good dinners with pizza at Cucina Enoteca, I tonight had a very poor meal there. The chopped salad was overdressed, and the greens had seen better days. More importantly, the chicken sausage pizza was not very good...it was greasy and extremely limp. Also, I wasn't crazy about the chicken sausage. Therefore, I must unfortunately say that CE seems to be inconsistent...and I now would definitely not put it in the number 2 spot...perhaps 4 or 5. Maybe tonight was just an off night, but it was not very good.

                                                2. Thank you all! The seeds of my humble pizza question have grown into a wonderful tree of pizza knowledge.

                                                  1. La Roca on El Camino Real in San Clemente is good. Very casual and reasonable. It's more like a typical New York City pizza place you would go in for a slice.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: happafoodie

                                                      La Rocco's http://laroccospizzaonline.com/

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        My favorite pizza!!!!

                                                    2. I am going to update my post with a couple of places:

                                                      1. Johnny's Real NY Pizza, 2756 E. Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
                                                      This small, unassuming place makes a really nice New York style pizza. They sell slices (as befits a NYC pizza place). You get a big slice of cheese for $3.50. Tasty, crisp bottomed crust, nice mild tomato sauce with just the right consistency, and just the right amount of cheese. I really enjoy it. And they have a nice sound system which features mostly Frank Sinatra. Grab a slice and sit in the window watching CDM go by.

                                                      2. Blaze PIzza, University Town Center, Irvine (across from UCI). I am adding this to the list to say that this is NOT good pizza. First of all they totally crush the dough ball so forget about having a tasty cornicone; there is none because they flattened it with a huge machine just before baking it. Plus, the dough isn't that tasty to begin with. The cheese and sauce are OK, but for me the pizza is all about the crust, and this crust just isn't very good. Such a waste of a nice hot fire.

                                                      1. A few new players to try out:

                                                        Neopolitan Pizzeria & Birreria - Laguna Beach

                                                        Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana - Fullerton

                                                        1. Time for an additional update on the Orange County pizza scene. There are a couple of great new additions since my last post:

                                                          Pitfire Pizza, Costa Mesa. This Los Angeles "mini-chain" opened a location on 17th St. in Costa Mesa recently. This is a pizzeria unlike any others I have visited in the OC. The decor is funky, 60's surf shack style. You order and pay in advance at a counter, then take a number to your table and they bring the pizza to you when it's ready. Based on one visit, I would say the pizza is great. The crust is very dark, nearly burned looking, but inside it is moist, tender, and very flavorful. The ingredients on my pizza were all first rate: burrata, onions, bacon tomato sauce. It doesn't sound that great but it really was delicious. I can't wait to go back and try out a more conventional pizza. Orange County can be very happy to have an outpost of Pitfire.

                                                          Fuoco Pizzeria, Fullerton. Fuoco is an authetic Neapolitan pizzeria, complete with a bright red Stefano Ferrara wood burning oven in the open kitchen. I had a Margherita pizza the first time I visited, and it was delicious. The bake time on these pizzas is very short (maybe 90 seconds) so the cooked pizza is fairly soft (though with a crisp exterior). You could fold it in quarters without splitting the crust. The sauce is very tasty (I think it's just tomatoes). The pizza is served uncut, in true Neapolitan style. I was able to speak with the owner while I had my pizza, and he said they are really just trying to prepare a truly authentic Naples style pizza. I have never eaten a pizza in Naples, but to me it tastes very good indeed.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: tinroofrusted

                                                            Thanks for the update. We too like Pitfire Pizza up here in the LA area. The one issue we have for it is the huge number of families with children it attracts. I don't begrudge them their love of the place, I just wish the din that comes with it was a little less. If that were the case we would go more often.

                                                            I have to say the "800" degree effect of the flash cooked Neapolitan pizza has really broken out in viral fashion. Thanks for the heads up on Fuoco. If we are down that way I would definitely be inclined to try it based on your report.

                                                          2. If you want to go further south, Selma's has fantastic deep dish. It's on del mar in San Clemente so you have a quaint place to walk around after having that delicious deep dish pizza pie.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Lovekoobideh

                                                              As an FYI, Selma's is a small locally owned chain with locations in Rancho Santa Margarita, Ladera Ranch and the aforementioned San Clemente that's owned by the family who started the BJ's chain before it was bought out and made public.

                                                            2. I think Pizzeria Mozza is the best so far. Also like Pizzeria Ortiga and ECCO. They are all pretty good. Not like our beloved Long Branch New Jersey Pizza's but good for California.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: newport5

                                                                I pretty much agree. Right now I'd rank them:
                                                                1) Pizzeria Mozza
                                                                2) Pizzeria Ortica
                                                                3) Pizza e Vino (Rancho Sant Marg)
                                                                4) ECCO

                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                  Mozza and Ortica are tied for me depending on my mood.

                                                                  I think we are seeing eye to eye these days with regards to pizza josephnl! :-)

                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                    Yes...and Sotto in LA rocks! It's the best pizza I've had in LA...but my overall favorite Italian is Madeo.

                                                                  2. re: josephnl

                                                                    We haven't tried Pizza e Vino but will have to that. Thanks for the suggestion