Go for The old-school, Italian-inspired slice.
Chef Alessandro Pirozzi works hard to channel the taste of simple, thin-crust pizza synonymous with his Southern Italian hometown. At Pirozzi’s in Corona del Mar, authentic Naples-style pizza cooks in mere seconds thanks to an imported oven built brick by brick just for the chef. While the pizza menu lists classics with fresh basil and hand-pulled mozzarella, the dessert pizza garners our attention. The heart-shaped pizza with gobs of chocolatey Nutella, fresh organic bananas and sliced almonds is intended for two, but a true chocolate lover may attempt to devour this fruit-covered pizza solo. Admittedly, this cutesy pizza seems eye-rollingly cliché – until you taste it. Most Nutella desserts skimp on the good stuff, but that’s not the case with Alessandro’s. His pizza oozes with an ample layer of the addicting hazelnut-and-chocolate spread.
Pirozzi, 2929 E. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949.675.2932 :: pirozzicdm.com
For more than 25 years, chef Sal Maniaci has served OC diners a taste of Italy. Maniaci’s favorite pizza, which carries the restaurant’s name, the Sapori, is made with ripe grape tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, grilled slices of eggplant, zucchini and freshly torn basil, this pizza is layered with earthy, ratatouille inspired flavors. The fresh ingredients and al fresco seating add to the pizzeria’s allure, but it’s the crust that sets Sapori apart. Maniaci’s “mother” dough, which is derived from an 80-year-old yeast strain, is incorporated into each batch of pizza. Before baking in an imported wood-burning Neapolitan oven, Maniaci’s dough rests for 72 hours. During this three-day waiting period, the yeast culture continues to mature. The air bubbles created during this fermentation process give the crust a crispy exterior that crackles as you take your first bite. Then the pizza’s soft, springy dough emerges, covered in a flood of comfortingly rustic flavors.
Pizzeria Sapori, 1080 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, 949.644.4220 :: pizzeriasapori.com
An extensive trip throughout Italy revived the palate of Pizzeria Mozza owner Nancy Silverton and reinvigorated executive chef Matt Molina’s taste buds. After sharing a sausage and cream pizza in Umbria, Molina was greatly inspired: His fennel sausage, prepared in-house, uses Heritage Farms pork, a touch of smoked paprika, fennel seeds and fennel pollen. The sausage is noticeably naked. Free of the typical sausage casing, the ground pork par-cooks first in a hot pan so it releases less oil once it’s torched in the 570-degree Fahrenheit California almond wood-burning oven. The scalding heat quickly roasts and wilts the sliced red onions and fresh scallions, while simultaneously melting the mozzarella and caramelizing a heavy cream layer residing below. Molina finishes each fennel-focused pie with one more dash of pollen.
Pizzeria Mozza, 800 W. Coast Highway,Newport Beach, 949.945.1126 :: pizzeriamozza.com