EVEN WITH ITS BEGINNINGS AS PART OF THE ITALIAN FOOD GENRE, PIZZA HAS CREATIVELY GROWN TO GARGANTUAN PROPORTIONS.
Pizza in the OC
Restaurants everywhere have their own take on pizza—and why wouldn’t they? Pizza is such a veritable blank canvas for culinary creativity that it is hard to not consider making pizza its own genre. Truly, traditional styles of pizza are marvelous to experience, but—much to the benefit of everyone—the traditional is balanced with the modern.
Presently, new restaurants of the most-recent decades tackle this “blank canvas” in a diverse, incredibly-fun way: from the eye-popping smoked salmon and caviar pizzas of Spago, to the flatbread delights of places like zpizza and BJ’s, to the assembly lines of Pieology and Blaze Pizza, there’s something new for everyone to enjoy. For a while, a local establishment offered pizza cones, an ice cream shaped, chewy crust cradled a variety of toppings. Pizza can even be infused with alcohol! (A pizza catering company, Pizzarageous, Inc., has introduced pizzas that involve liquors like vodka and gin.)
We at Great Taste magazine have delved deep to explore the aspects of pizza
culture, bringing to our readers Q&A interviews, recipes, reviews, and so much more!
Since Urban Pie launched in the winter of 2012 they have been dreaming of delivering a frozen pizza that does not compromise the quality they serve from their mobile ovens. After much due diligence Chef/Owner Jason Winters has developed a frozen pizza, blast chilled, then vacuum packed with no fancy box to hide their beautiful pies. Just a simple see through, food grade, heat sealed bag to proudly display the crust and ingredients they
have become known for. It is unlike any other frozen pizza on the market in that it is par baked in a 900F wood burning oven and topped with exceptional ingredients. Urban Pie pizza sets a new standard for bringing pie to the people. Currently they offer classic Margherita and Bee Sting pies. Expect to see the Black Garlic, Fun Guy and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon soon. Each Pie is slightly larger than their standard pies at 14 inches and range from $12.99 to $15. They are shipped via fed ex within 24 hours on dry Ice to the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. Expect to see online retailers and local stores carrying the Urban Pie line in the near future. Urban Pie is also launching a Pop-Up restaurant called Piesenberg
where they will be featuring antipasti, hand-made pastas, vegetable dishes and pizza.
CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN
How many locations? California Pizza Kitchen has almost 300 restaurants in 16 countries and 218 cities, including approximately 200 domestically.
Where is your company based? Los Angeles, CA
What year came to OC? 1988
How many in the OC? 10
What makes your product unique? Our focus on innovative dining options made with fresh, imaginative ingredients makes our products unique. California Pizza Kitchen invented both The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza and the Thai Chicken Pizza and continues to innovate across the food and beverage menu.
Which Pizza do you consider your signature? Why? The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza is a CPK signature creation. California Pizza Kitchen was the first to put BBQ chicken on a pizza in 1985. The delicious combination of hand-tossed pizza dough, tangy BBQ sauce, grilled chicken and bright, fresh cilantro and red onion has inspired many other restaurants and chains to develop their own version of the BBQ Chicken Pizza over the years.
Please describe your crust. All of our pizzas are hand tossed before cooking in our open-hearth ovens. Our 3-day resting period and the use of amazing California olive oil and sea salt set our dough apart on flavor and texture.
When did you start the revitalization of the brand “Next Chapter”? In 2015, CPK celebrated its milestone 30th year and unveiled its “next chapter” reinvention – with a modern and rustic new look, an expanded, seasonally inspired menu and creative, hand-crafted cocktails and premium wines.
Any other fun facts? Giving back to the communities it serves and promoting positive change is part of CPK’s DNA, from the restaurant level to the Restaurant Support Center (company HQ). Each year, our individual restaurants and corporate employees participate in hundreds of community fundraisers and service projects, or “Inspired Acts.” CPK also partners nationally with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise funds and help grant wishes for families across the country.
NAPOLIATANO AT CRYSTAL COVE
How many locations? Eight locations. Henderson and Las Vegas, NV. Salt Lake City and Farmington, UT and Pasadena, Marina Del Rey, Oxnard and Newport Beach in CA.
Where is your original location? Henderson, NV
What year came to OC? 2014
How many in the OC? One
What makes your product unique? We try and re-create the original pizza as it is made in Naples, Italy for the past 200 years. We use a handmade wood fired pizza oven made by a third generation oven builder in Napoli, Italy and cook our pizzas at 900F for about 60 seconds. Our head Pizza maker has more nearly 20 years of experience making Pizza Napoletana and both he and myself were trained in Napoli by renowned pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia.
Which Pizza do you consider your signature? Why? Our signature and the classic pizza from Napoli is the Marcherita; crushed Italian Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella, Parmigiano, Basil and Olive Oil.
Describe your crust. Our crust is very unique. Soft and foldable, our dough rises and matures for about 24 hours. It is a soft/wet dough that produces the signature softness and char of a Pizza Napoletana.
PERFECT PIE EXPANSION
What year did the original restaurant open? Sapori opened in 1989 and in 2015 we expanded and added the Pizzeria.
Why did you decide to add a Pizzeria? I always wanted to do a pizza that was completely different from the rest.
What makes your pizza concept unique? Our concept is unique because unlike most others, we use a pre-ferment process for our dough.
Which Pizza do you consider your signature? Why? The pizza that I consider signature is the Ortolana, because I love the combination of red and yellow bell peppers with sausage and onions.
Please describe your crust. Our crust is crunchy but light, digestible, and fragrant.
What kind of oven do you use? The oven that we use is a Stefano Ferrara oven that I consider to be the Ferrari of wood burning ovens. It was tailored to our needs. Hand-made in Naples, with materials unique, for instance the floor is made from a stone called Biscotto di Sorrento which enables the humidity of the pizza dough to be absorbed avoiding it getting burned on the bottom. It took five months to get it here and heavy machinery was necessary to get it in the restaurant; other than that it was simple.
What temperature do you use to cook your pies? Our pizzas are baked at 800F for two minutes.
Do you have any unique pizza and beverage pairings? Our Ortolana pizza goes well with a Chianti wine and the Diavola pizza goes well with a IPA beer.
OGGI’S SPORTS BREWHOUSE PIZZA
How many locations? We currently have 14 full-service restaurant and bar locations known as Oggi’s Sports I Brewhouse I Pizza, and two locations of our fast-casual concept Oggi’s Pizza Express, as well as multiple exciting projects in the pipeline.
Where is your company based? Oggi’s originated in Del Mar but our headquarters is now in San Clemente.
What year came to OC? January 2000
How many in the OC? 4 (Fullerton, Garden Grove, Tustin and a Pizza Express in Orange. A new full-service location is set to open this summer in Mission Viejo.)
What makes your concept unique? Oggi’s Sports I Brewhouse I Pizza combines their own award-winning micro-brewed beers with delicious, made-from-scratch pizza and a sports-themed, family-friendly atmosphere. Guests can catch a game and enjoy the company of friends and family without compromising on excellent food and remarkable beers. Oggi’s Pizza Express brings its guests handcrafted pizzas customized to their specifications in a convenient fast-casual environment, along with the famous microbrews.
How has the concept evolved since inception? Throughout the years, the Oggi’s personality has evolved from a mom-and-pop pizzeria-style restaurant, to a locals favorite sports themed brewhouse, complete with full bar and a full array of televisions and monitors, large and small. Oggi’s is a terrific choice to watch your favorite teams in sporting events while enjoying great food and fun with family, friends and colleagues. Oggi’s success was compounded with the addition of convenient delivery and full-menu online ordering services, and was topped off with its introduction into the brewing industry.
What makes your product unique? The combination of high-quality, freshly-handcrafted pizzas paired with Oggi’s own award-winning microbrews make for a unique pairing that is hard to surpass.
Which Pizza do you consider your signature? Why? Our signature pizza is the Oggi’s Special. It features all your favorite toppings—spicy pepperoni, savory Italian sausage, and fresh veggies like mushrooms, red onions, green bell peppers, and chopped tomatoes… the works! It’s the perfect pizza to enjoy with a cold beer and a good game.
Please describe your crust. Oggi’s signature hand-tossed dough is stretched to a medium-thick pie base, with just the right amount of soft-chewiness in the center and a flavorful, crunchy crust. Thin-crust and glutenfree options are also available.
What kind of oven do you use? A rotating carousel bakers’ oven
What temperature? We can’t give away all of our secrets but we cook it at very high temps, over 500F.
Do you have any unique pizza and beverage pairings? We just launched our current LTO featured menu highlighting our Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza that pairs well with our Oggi’s Torrey Pines IPA beer.
Why did you decide to offer room service pizza delivery? One of the exciting things about ordering pizza when you’re at home is the fact that you don’t have to lift a finger or move a muscle to get it delivered straight to your door. We wanted our guests to have that same experience while they’re staying with us. One quick text or a phone call and made-to order pizza shows up right at their guest room door.
What makes your product unique? The combination of speed and quality. We can make any of our pizzas in under five minutes, but nothing is assembled in advance. We’re making pizzas to order, but guests don’t have to compromise on a 45 minute to an hour wait time. We take our mozzarella seriously. We shred everything in house, and our popular Margherita Pizza is topped with thick slices of water-packed buffalo mozzarella. Plus, you can customize your pie any way you want.
Which Pizza do you consider your signature? Why? We’d have to go with what’s most popular, which is the good old-fashioned pepperoni. It never goes out of style and is always a go-to favorite for our guests.
Describe your crust. We leave the dough to the experts and order them pre-made. We opt for a hand-tossed, rustic-style crust that is a good balance between a thick doughy crust and a crunchy thin crust. We also offer a gluten-free crust made from rice flour.
What kind of oven do you use? Turbo Chef Pizza Oven. It can turn out a pizza in two minutes and 10 seconds at 525F.
How many do you estimate are eaten in rooms per month? More than 300 pizzas per month are delivered to guest rooms, which is about 20% of the overall number of pizzas we make per month for our guests.
Do you have any unique pizza and beverage pairings? Marketplace, in our lobby is filled with specialty beverages for guests to pair with their pizza. It’s not often you can pick your pizza and pick your favorite pint of beer to go, but we have a great variety of craft brews from local vendors like Bootleggers Brewery and Blackmarket Brewing Co. A pale ale or IPA are the most popular selections with any of our pizzas.
BRICK OVEN BAKED
How many locations? 86 with international sites
Where is your company based? Irvine, CA
How many in the OC? 17
What makes your concept unique? Artisan-inspired pizza, brick-oven baked. We use high-quality ingredients and offer gluten-free and vegetarian options. We recently introduced a new concept called the zpizza Tap Room in L.A., which includes 12+ self pour taps with a modern look and feel.
How has the concept evolved since inception? Our founder Sid is still heavily involved in menu development and sourcing ingredients. We have expanded the menu beyond pizza, and recently introduced the new Tap Room.
What makes your product unique? The quality of our ingredients—from caramelized onions to cremini mushrooms to our new crust—zpizza knows that the best-tasting food starts with ingredients.
Which Pizza do you consider your signature? Why? Napoli is our top selling creation—it’s simple, yet flavorful. It features our house-made roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, parmesan and fresh basil.
Please describe your crust. We just launched an airy, crispier crust made with all-natural non-GMO flour.
What kind of oven do you use? Brick-oven
What temperature? 600F
Do you have any unique pizza and beverage pairings? A nice pairing for your zpizza at home is a glass of sparkling wine with our Tuscan Mushroom pie that’s finished with truffle oil.
View the recipe for the ZPizza Roasted Garlic Sauce