David Myers, the chef-entrepreneur behind Sona and Comme Ca in West Hollywood, has gone south to O.C. to open his first Italian restaurant with former Valentino chef Steve Samson as executive chef.
It's a pizzeria, to borrow a publishing tag, "in the spirit of" Pizzeria Mozza, the Nancy Silverton-Mario Batali powerhouse in L.A. So, in addition to pizza, the kitchen turns out an array of antipasti and some pastas (this, Mozza doesn't do) and main courses. Sounds good, especially since it's close enough to the O.C. Performing Arts Center to pop in for dinner before a performance.
Pizzeria Ortica has an appealing look, despite its oddball configuration: a long, narrow space alongside a parking structure across from the much pricier Mastro's Steakhouse. With its high, arched ceiling and double rows of tables, it feels as though you're eating under one of the covered arcades in Bologna or Napoli.
Pizzas come topped with a simple tomato sauce scented with garlic and dried oregano -- plus mozzarella or house-made sausage with caramelized fennel or fresh ricotta with house-cured pork cheek and fennel pollen. They were a bit underbaked when I dined there. But in pizza-making, practice can make perfect.