Sometimes the best pizza is whatever can arrive within 10 minutes of the soccer team landing at your house. But when you want a crispy crust, pillowy cheese and toppings more exotic than pepperoni, try one of these. From artisanal techniques to inventive toppings, they take your pizza experience up a slice.
Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana
You’ll see Angelina’s brick, woodburning oven as soon as you enter, promising a true Neapolitan-style experience. The pizzas are topped with sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella from a cheesemonger in Naples. Angelina’s menu is fancier than most pizza places, featuring appetizers such as calamari fritti and classic Italian desserts, including housemade gelato.
Happy Hour: 4:30–6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. until closing Sunday–Thursday
Dog-friendly: on patio
8573 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine 92618
Really, really hungry? Blaze will “fast fire” your pizza in three minutes. You can build your own from ingredients that include applewood bacon, crumbled meatballs, artichokes and banana peppers or order from a menu that features White Top, Hot Link and BBQ Chicken. Beer and wine are available; gluten-free crust and vegan cheese are options.
Dog-friendly: on the patio
4255 Campus Drive, A120, Irvine 92612
This place is so classic even the online menu sports a red-checked tablecloth. The dough is made fresh daily, the sauce contains eight herbs and spices, and the meats are “butcher cut” lean. Build your own with toppings including anchovies, grilled chicken breast and sundried tomatoes or order from such options as Ultimate Thin Crust, Pastrami Pleaser, Basilicious and Popeye’s Favorite. There’s a long list of beers on tap.
Happy hour: 3–6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Dog-friendly: on the patio
6420 Irvine Blvd, Irvine 92620
Ever wonder why New York pizza tastes better? This chain’s Brooklyn founders say it’s the water. To impart that legendary flavor to its dough, Flippin’ uses a filter to get the same pH balance with minerals as New York water, and uses no oil or sugar. Build your own or choose from such pizzas as Whitestone, tomato basil garlic, Buffalo chicken and artichoke. Calzones, meatballs, wings, and beer and wine are available.
Gluten-friendly crust is an option.
Happy hour: 4–7 p.m. Monday–Friday
17933 MacArthur Blvd, Irvine 92614
The pizza might be square, but this place thrives on more than just a gimmicky pan shape. Square One specializes in thin, crisp pizzas in such varieties as pesto sausage, prosciutto and goat cheese, and Sweet and Spicy. Or create your own from such toppings as asparagus, grilled eggplant, carnitas and marinated steak. Also available are pastas and overstuffed sandwiches as well as local craft beers on tap. Gluten-free crust available.
Dog-friendly: on the patios
Happy hour: 3–6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday
5789 Alton Parkway, Irvine 92618