Orange County has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great pizza. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s nearly impossible to pick just the five best, but I’ve done it anyway. Here they are.
The spicy salame pizza here is absolute perfection, sparsely blotted with ricotta cheese and generously flavored with green olives and pickled Fresno chilies. 2145 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, 949-873-5853, 2145eats.com
Although Brick has stopped identifying as Italian (preferring instead the moniker of wood-fire kitchen), this place still makes pizzas, and they are still incredible, especially the one topped with house-made sausage, Calabrese salame, slow-roasted porchetta and crispy pork belly. 216 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, 949-929-1199, brickrestaurantgroup.com
3. Parallel Pizza
This is the only place in Orange County making charcoal-fired New Haven-style pizza. It is ultra thin and deliciously chewy. Get the one topped with pepperoni, fresh jalapeños, Parmesan cheese and honey. 34255 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, 949-441-7406, parallelpizzeria.com
The naturally leavened dough combines the best traits of both Neapolitan and sourdough styles. Focus on the fennel sausage, mozzarella and pecorino with a drizzle of salsa verde. 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-617-4888, folkshospitality.com
I lived in Chicago for seven years and ate far more than my fair share of stuffed and pan pizzas, and I am stubbornly convinced that Rance’s is the real deal. The pan pizza with meatballs, pancetta and jalapeños is as good as it gets. 1420 Baker St., Costa Mesa, 714-708-2143, rancespizza.com