New pizza joints seem to be popping up all over the OC, with their various interpretations of Chicago-, New York- or Neapolitan-styles. We don’t get too caught up in the pizza wars because we don’t discriminate when it comes to pizza style, only taste.
Pitfire Artisan Pizza, is a small Los Angeles-based chain that just opened its first O.C. location in Costa Mesa, CA. When you walk in, you are greeted by a surf theme, with walls painted with orange and yellow stripes, lacquered light wood tables and stools and an architectural piece made from a 60s VW Van, paying homage to the restaurants locale. It’s a fast-casual restaurant, so you place your order at the counter and take your number to your table.
Pitfire makes rustic pizzas and hand-crafted panini, pastas, salads, and a seasonally-inspired menu made from simple and fresh ingredients. Beverages include beer, sangria and a selection of crafted cocktails. The pizzas are wood-fired and they are able to solidly execute dough that is crunchy and yet slightly chewy. We had the opportunity to sample their menu and owner, Paul Hibler was on hand to show me how to make my own pizza.
Pitfire offers private dining in the back of the restaurant which can be also used for birthday parties, large groups or act as overflow for the restaurant. It comes equipped with its own wood-fire oven so you can also have a pizza-making party. There is a secret room just behind this space that is what we are most excited about. Slide away the faux pantry shelves that house empty tomato sauce cans and pasta boxes and enter a 1920’s era speakeasy. It’s dimly lit with dark wood-paneled walls, and only a handful of small tables and chairs. Its bar is framed out with a vintage pie oven, a leftover tribute to its previous tenant Marie Calendars. We’re told “the community will determine how this space is used”. I’m still waiting patiently to hear from “the community”, or perhaps city planning cause it has yet to open.