1. Square One Pizza Café
5789 Alton Parkway, Irvine
Square One Pizza Café owners Kyle and Liz Gillies have made it a priority to treat their customers like family. The young couple from Irvine – who have three children – are big on serving up the freshest house-made and seasonal ingredients in a warm, welcoming and family-friendly setting.
Kyle was a chef at the Hobbit in Orange, and Liz worked as a general manager and wine buyer for Pascal restaurant in Newport Beach. Taking advantage of that combined experience, they opened Square One Pizza Café two years ago, and it has become an increasingly popular lunch stop for workers at surrounding businesses and casual dinner destination for couples and families. The eatery serves up to 16 crispy, thin-crust pizza combinations, and yes, the pizza comes in squares instead of traditional triangle slices.
The crust, which is available in a gluten-free option, is made in-house and cured in a refrigerator for 72 hours. Preset options include prosciutto and goat cheese, spicy shrimp, gourmet vegetable and honey chicken, and there are myriad cheeses, fresh vegetables, meats and seafood for build-your-own pizzas.
2. Pizza Lounge
Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel
Fans of Pizza Lounge enjoy the modern decor, cozy atmosphere and variety of artisan pizzas, craft beers and boutique wines. The pizzas are hearty and shareable, come in 14- and 18-inch sizes, and are served on a thick cutting board. Gluten-free versions of all of the pizzas can be made in a 12-inch size.
According to management, guest favorites include the coconut shrimp, grilled chicken and goat cheese, and pear and Gorgonzola pizzas. Both locations have a popular social hour from 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. until closing Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday that includes discount appetizers, drinks and flatbread pizzas.
The variety of pizza flavors pairs well with the selection of craft beers. The rotating roster of brews is carefully curated by the bar staff to include stouts, porters, ciders, and wheat, amber and pale ales.
3. Tony’s Little Italy
1808 N. Placentia Ave., Suite B, Placentia
Though it may not look like much, tucked among a slew of businesses in Placentia, Tony’s Little Italy offers an authentic taste of Italy and Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas.
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