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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

Pizza Bakery Borrows From Both Coasts

October 22, 1992|SUZANNE HOUGH

They call it "New York-style pizza with a California flair," and there's truth in this advertising for the Pizza Bakery.

The New York part is a chewy, crispy crust that never has a soggy bottom and sauce with a fresh, not-too-sweet taste. Both are homemade.

California comes into play in the list of toppings and in the decor.

Along with 26 "traditional" toppings, California-influenced choices include goat cheese, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. There are also specialty combinations such as the BLT--no sauce, just bacon, lettuce, sliced tomatoes(!), mayo and mozzarella. Too wild for me. I like the Bowling Green, a 16-inch pie loaded with artichoke hearts, bell peppers, garlic, mushrooms and olives.

Pies cost $10.25 for a 16-inch plain; add $1.25 for each traditional topping and $1.75 for each gourmet topping.

As for the California decor, you'll notice it the minute you walk in this bright, cheery restaurant. The pale-green, sponge-painted walls are covered with brightly colored ceramic plates and framed cartoons with a pizza motif. The wooden chairs look as if Jackson Pollock used them as canvases for his colorful drip paintings.

You have to like a restaurant with a sense of humor.

The same good crust found in the pizzas is also used for the calzones ($4.75), which are filled with ricotta and mozzarella, chunks of ripe tomatoes and cooked spinach flavored with garlic. These calzones aren't the leaden weight that some are--the crust is thin, and there's enough spinach and tomato to lighten up the cheeses.

For an even better bargain, try the $3.75 subs. I like the one that's layered with grilled chicken, sliced red onions, cilantro, mozzarella and barbecue sauce, served warm on a toasted eight-inch baguette. Request extra sauce on the side.

The Pizza Bakery also offers a limited selection of salads and pasta. I recommend the meatballs as a side order, as a topping for the spaghetti or on a sub. They're nicely spiced, dense, golf-ball-sized. Another round treat is the "garlic dough knot," a plump ball of oven-baked, garlic-drenched dough that's offered free while you're waiting for your order or for $2.50 a pound for take-out.

The Pizza Bakery, 1741 Westcliff Drive, Newport Beach. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cash only. (714) 631-1166.

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