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Pizza Sauce Is a Topping, Too

BY: Editors | Jul 7, 2015
Pizza Sauce Is a Topping, Too

A beautiful Mediterranean climate isn’t the only thing Irvine shares with Italy. The city also has a host of places that pay homage to most beloved of Italian eats—pizza. Many Irvine pizza places prize the customizability of their pies, from Irvine Spectrum restaurants such as Pieology Pizzeria, with its build-your-own ethos, to MOD Pizza’s claim of “endless options” on its tailor-made pizzas. But in the arms race to think up ever more novel combinations of toppings, it’s easy to lose sight of pizza’s humblest, most workmanlike topping—the sauce.

Marinara vs. Tomato Sauce?

The difference between these similar red sauces may seem superficial, but it’s not. Tomato sauce is exactly as simple as it sounds. It’s a tomato-based sauce. But in order for a sauce to be a marinara, it must consist of ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and oregano or fresh basil. To a traditionalist, this means no tomato paste, no wine, no butter, and no onions.

Why the Name Marinara?

For a sauce that celebrates a land-based specimen like the tomato, it’s a little odd that marinara translates to “sailor-style.” Philologists, too, remain puzzled. Some theorize that the high acidity of the sauce, plus its lack of meat, made it a relatively shelf-stable staple for sailors on long sea voyages—who needed good sources of vitamin C to prevent scurvy. And then there’s the anchovy theory: original versions might have relied on the brininess of the little fish, which later became optional and left only the sea-evoking name behind.

Noteworthy Sauces at Irvine Restaurants

In Irvine, Terra Mia Pizzeria slathers its pies with a housemade marinara sauce made from scratch each morning in the kitchen. First Class Pizza, meanwhile, sets its sauce apart with a house blend of eight herbs and spices. These contrasting approaches serve as a simple reminder that the same ingredient in a different chef’s hands doesn’t always taste the same. With that in mind, check out the pizzas—and the sauce—at these other spots in the area: