At first glance, South Coast Pizza Parlors might look like an ordinary family pizza joint. The requisite video and redemption games chirp and ring near the entrance. Six big-screen televisions flicker with sporting events. But the difference is in the pizza--the kitchen crew crafts dough and sauce fresh every single day, drizzling pies with classic toppings such as green peppers and pepperoni, as well as more non-traditional options including vegan cheese and soy chorizo.
Proprietor and chef David Myers has never been a man to cut corners in the kitchen. He honed his attention to detail while working for Chicago's legendary Charlie Trotter and French gourmand Daniel Boulud, and then went on to earn praise of his own, including a Michelin star for his Sona Restaurant in West Hollywood.
At Chef Myers' Italian-spun invention, Pizzeria Ortica, patrons can peer at the open kitchen and watch as his team carefully assembles locally sourced and artisanal ingredients such as crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, cured pork cheek, and fennel pollen. An 800-degree wood-burning oven adds crispy finishing touches to Neapolitan-style pizzas built atop handmade dough, served alongside traditional antipastos and steaming portions of pasta.
A rustically modern interior of exposed white brick and large, glowing overhead lights offers a perfect complement to the restaurant's simple yet gourmet cuisine, as does a selection of Prohibition-era-inspired cocktails. Behind the bar, mixologists muddle fruit and herbs culled fresh from the farmers' market, and then mix them with gins, scotches, and whiskeys.
Grab a bagel ring for all 12 fingers ($10.95 a dozen), or grab an individual for a baby bracelet ($1.14 per bagel). Many toppings, cream cheeses, and spreads are also available. Although Bagel Me!'s name is both direct and delicious, the menu expands beyond the realm of the round. Breakfast items such as gooey cheddar and egg melts served alongside cinnamon baked apples ($4.19) and freshly blended smoothies ($4.39) will cause smiles at sunrise. Afternoon diners can hang fangs on tri-tip steak sandwiches such as the jalapeno-pineapple pairing, loaded liberally with caramelized onions, Tillamook cheddar, and monterey jack cheese ($7.49). Or fork up a variety of starters, such as Irish nachos based in French fries and topped with bacon, onions, cheddar and jack cheeses, and lucky wishes ($5.79).