Pitfire Artisan Pizza
353 E. 17th Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
It seems that there is a new dining Mecca in OC, and it is not in Newport, Fullerton, or Villa Park. Okay, I'm sure you could guess that it's not in Villa Park, since there's only six restaurants in that North OC city, and that's if you are counting Subway as a restaurant. No, the new dining hot spot in OC is Costa Mesa, and more specifically, 17th Street in Costa Mesa.
There have been so many openings within the last year or two, that we have yet to hit them all. Pie Not, Sidecar Doughnuts, a new Bruxie location, Tabu Shabu, and Madee Thai Kitchen are all places that we need to hit up eventually. This trip to the densely packed business district of 17th Street had us meeting our good friend Meagan at another place that has opened up within the last two years, Pitfire Artisan Pizza.
Pitfire is a mini chain from LA. They have six restaurants in LA, and this is their first foray into OC. Started by Paul Hibler and David Sanfield in 2003, they wanted to create pizzas that are culinarily driven. It takes two days for their dough to be ready, they try to use as many local ingredients as possible, and they have limited their menu, to help ensure that they are using the freshest ingredients possible. Their pizzas cook quickly, they are ready in two to three minutes, in a wood fired oven that reaches a temperature of over 600 degrees.
We arrived at Pitfire on a recent Thursday evening at 6. I really enjoyed the vibe of this hip and happening pizza joint. Bright colors on the walls, comfortable seating, and a young, good looking staff helped to contribute to the vibe here. Ordering is done at a counter, then the food is brought out to you. The line at the register went pretty slow the two times I went through it, but I attribute that to the mom that had about a million questions for the guy, while her four year old kid was going in and out of the door of the restaurant numerous times. Maybe your kid running around a parking lot unsupervised is more important than why they charge three dollars extra for a gluten free crust. Sorry, just a little rant there. Besides the distracted parent, we liked the atmosphere here, so let's see what we thought of the food at Pitfire.
Not exactly something that you would probably expect to see starting off a review of a pizza place, but Katie wanted to try their Lemon Garlic Chicken Soup ($4.25). This soup started with a base of a fennel herb broth, then braising greens, roasted pasta, and shredded chicken are added to the broth. This soup definitely delivered when it came to the lemon. Katie liked this soup, but was expecting it to be thicker. There was plenty of tender chicken, and she felt the garlic was more pronounced than I did.
A little more traditional item at a pizza place, the Hand-Crafted Chicken Meatballs ($6.75) were my choice for an appetizer. These meatballs are topped with tomato sauce and grated Parmesan. I really liked these meatballs, and I am usually biased by chicken meatballs. These were tender, with a great meaty flavor that almost made me a chicken meatball fan. The tomato sauce did not overwhelm, like some of them can tend to do. A very solid appetizer.
This is the second time we have gone out with Meagan while we were blogging, and this is the second time she has gotten a salad. Guess we have befriended a veggie lover, oh well, she's great company though. This Hand Chopped Salad ($11.25 with chicken added) is Pitfire's version of a signature salad. It comes with lettuce, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, provolone, roasted corn, pepperoncini, and olives. Maegan must really enjoy this salad, as she gets it every time she comes here. Her only complaint about this salad was that it needed more chicken. Other than that one minor detail, she left here completely happy.
Ever since we went to Pizzeria Ortica, Katie has been obsessed with finding a pizza with a runny egg on top. She finally found one here at Pitfire. The Greens, Egg and Ham ($11) was topped with braised broccolini, four cheeses, Parmesan, prosciutto, and the aforementioned runny egg. Katie felt this pizza had a nice balance to it. She sometimes feels that prosciutto can be overwhelming, but that was not the case here. The cured ham played nicely with the yolk from the egg and the cheeses. Katie was also pretty fond of the crust here.
If you are a faithful reader of this blog, you are probably not shocked that I got the pizza with the most meat I could find on it. This would be the Sausage Party Pizza ($12). Invited to this meat party was a house made fennel sausage, salumi, bacon, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and saba, which I learned is a condiment made from the unfermented residue of grapes, which is decadently rich and is used sparingly. I really enjoyed this pizza. I could tell that the meats were of a high quality, the crust underneath held up to the toppings, and the cheese was present, but did not overpower. I did not eat a lot of the outer crust, but I'm not really much of a crust kind of guy. A pretty solid pizza, and that's from a guy that enjoys a more American style kind of pizza, with lots of cheese, meats and toppings.
At the registers they had cookies sitting in a basket, so of course we had to give them a try. The better of the two was the Peanut Butter Cookie ($1.25). A decent peanut butter flavor, and good texture, to where the cookie was not too soft or hard. The Chocolate Chip cookie had the same decent crunch to it, but needed more chips added to it. The chocolate kind of got lost here, but still a fair cookie.
I am usually more partial to the pizzas that I grew up eating. You know the kind, Americanized pizzas with tons of cheese and pepperoni, but I really did like the pizzas here at Pitfire. They were very sturdy pizzas, with quality toppings, and I left here without that heavy feeling, like I get walking out of other pizza places. What I mostly liked here was the atmosphere. It is not your typical pizza place with kids running to and from an arcade, apathetic teenagers behind the counter, and a crappy projection TV in the corner showing an infomercial, since they forgot to turn the channel after the game was over. Pitfire had life to it, and the food added to the vibrance here. We are looking forward to coming back again real soon, as soon as we get to the other 83 restaurants that have popped up on 17th Street that we want to try.
Out of five coat hangers, (because when you have a pitfire down at the beach, you always need hangers to roast the hot dogs and marshmallows), five being best to zero being worst, Pitfire Artisan Pizza gets 3 strong coat hangers.
For more information about Pitfire Artisan Pizza, go to their website here: http://www.pitfirepizza.com/