Monday, February 16, 2009

Pizzeria Ortica -- molto bellissimo

Pizzeria Ortica
650 Anton Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

(714) 445-4900

I had driven by this place several times and often wondered what it was all about, so when my son wanted pizza today, I suggested we try this place out since it seems to be a pizzeria by its name.

Upon entry, I immediately took to the long dining room, something one hardly sees out here in southern California, but quite prevalent in New York City restaura
nts. Our server was a really lovely gal named Justene who was knowledgeable about the menu and was pleasant throughout our entire meal.

We ordered salsiccia e finnocchio pizza, Angelino panini and two starters, polipo e patate and verdure al forno con burrata to share. Foccaccia is brought to the table with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. My son immediately loved the olive oil. He said it was good olive oil and he would know since we've been to other Italian restaurants where he's said the olive oil was gross. The balsamic wasn't as aged as it could've been since it was a little too tart on the palate.

Our appetizers arrived shortly. The polipo e patate, or charred Mediterranean octopus served with Yukon potatoes, capers and celery hearts didn't look pretty but it sure tasted good. We loved the tartness of the dressing and the chewiness of the octopus. The
grilled vegetables with burrata comprised of zucchini, red peppers, sweet peppers and cippolini onions and a nice lump of burrata. We loved this immensely.

We came for the pizza and when it arrived we were not disappointed. This is the type of pizza I like, with a nice crust and not too much toppings. I really dislike American pizza because the toppings overflow and the pizza is greasy as hell. Here, the toppings are used sparingly like they do in Italy, just enough to flavor without overkill. The house made sausage was nicely flavored, but what I loved most about this particular pizza was the caramelised fennel.

Angelino panini comprised of a very moist piece of chicken breast with oven roasted tomatoes and crispy pancetta. I thought the panini bread was too soft which resulted in the sandwich becoming soggy too quickly. The bread was also too thick which made it hard to bite into the entire sandwich. Other than that, it tasted delicious. If they could figure out a way to keep the bread intact, this would have been an almost perfect sandwich.

We were even tempted enough to have some dessert -- ricotta al forno -- ricotta cheese cake topped with berries and served in a fig sauce reduction. The first thing which struck me about this was that it wasn't sweet at all. I would've loved it had the ricotta cake been softer and moister. Ricotta is on the dry side so without adding anything else to it would mean that it had a crumbled texture rather than a smooth texture. I like how they were true to using only ricotta, but texturally, it wasn't to my liking.

Service was great. I really liked Justene and I hope when we return again, we'll have her serve us or have someone equally good. There is validated parking in the back as well so it makes it convenient for diners not to have to circle around trying to find street parking. The portions are European-style, which means you're not going to get gargantuan proportions, but it also means that your final tab might be slightly higher than you anticipated. However, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal here and we'll definitely be back to try some other things on the menu.

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