A little over a year ago my friend and I ventured to Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa, excited to try out David Myers’ latest venture. I was expecting quite the fabulous meal, but unfortunately it was not. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it was quite lackluster. I figured it was just due to the restaurant being brand new and needing to get into its groove.
Flash forward to now, and my friend and I (along with the Englishman) decided to give Pizzeria Ortica a second chance. The restaurant seemed to be pulling in a steady number of reviews and had managed to survive in it’s location unscathed. So off we headed for what we hoped would be a more memorable dining experience.
The restaurant wasn’t too busy (and we were dining a little on the early side), so we were promptly seated by one of the windows overlooking the sidewalk. As I looked at the menu I was happy to see that the Verdure al forno con Burrata fresca was still on the menu, as I remember it being a highlight from the last time I had dined at Pizzeria Ortica. We decided instantly that we would order that for our starter.
Our waitress came by and took our drink orders – Perroni beer for the Englishman and The “Rossini” for my friend and I which came with vodka, lemon juice, mint, and strawberry. Once the drink orders were in we waited for what felt like an unusually long time for a drink order, and then finally we were presented with these beauties:
The flavors were spot on, but at $11 a pop I was expecting it to have a little more punch. I don’t order cocktails often, but when I do I expect to at least have a slight indication that there is alcohol in there. My friend and I were pretty convinced that there wasn’t the slightest trace of vodka. True Food Kitchen Mojito this was not.
Then it was time to place our orders. The Vedure al forno con Burrata to start (that’s roasted vegetables with Burrata cheese), followed by the Salsiccia Pizza with house made sausage, red onion, and carmelized fennel. The Englishman also had his eye on the Patatine Montanare, which is french fries with a balsamic glaze, and the braised Ox Tail.
After our orders were placed we noticed there was once again a curiously long-ish wait. Was this just Italian style? Where was the Vedure al forno? How come other tables had bread and olive oil? This place isn’t that busy tonight. These were just some of the thoughts running through my head as I sipped my vodka-less cocktail.
The Englishman politely asked our waitress if we could have some bread olive oil while we waited and she said it would come right out. More minutes passed and soon I saw the busboy with our Vedure al forno. Success! But he was also carrying the pizza and the french fries as well. So instead of having the Vedure as a starter, it had now become a part of the main course. No less than 30 seconds later the waitress placed some bread and olive oil on the table, followed by the Braised Ox Tail.
So we went from having no food to having more food than we knew what to do with. Not the world’s biggest problem per se, but now we had to power through the Vedure and Burrata so we could enjoy the pizza before it got cold.
The Salsiccia pizza had a nice thin crust, delicious sausage with just the right amount of spice and the carmelized fennel was a good complement. It was a bit of a beast to cut (they didn’t provide a pizza cutter and didn’t really cut the slices beforehand) but it was delicious.
The Braised Ox Tail was probably the low point of the evening. It definitely was not the Englishman’s favorite and he was hoping for some more meat overall. Luckily we had a huge thing of bread and olive oil so it made up for the lack of protein in the Ox Tail dish. As you can see the ratio of Ox Tail to plate is not exactly proportional:
So the final verdict? I definitely noticed and improvement in the food (especially the pizza) but the service is seriously lacking. Our busboy did a better job of making sure our food was good and clearing plates than our actual waitress. And the restaurant wasn’t even that busy, so I don’t know what was up with that.
I feel as if Pizzeria Ortica and I have moved from the acquaintance phase and are now in the casual friends phase. We aren’t besties yet since there are still some small issues that need to be worked out, but overall I was much more pleased with this meal as a whole.
Pizzeria Ortica – you have redeemed yourself. Let’s just work on putting more alcohol in your mixed drinks and a little better service ok? We’ll be besties in no time.
Has anyone else been to Pizzeria Ortica? Thoughts?
Where can I find the best pizza in OC?