Monday, January 19, 2015

Cousin Conclave at Craftsman Pizza

Craftsman Wood Fired Pizza
148 Yorba Linda Blvd. 
Placentia, CA 92870

The holidays are a time for families to get together. I'm pretty lucky, almost all of my family lives in OC, and the rest live in the surrounding counties. So it's not rare that we all see each other throughout the year. The one exception to this is my cousin DJ. He moved to Chile last year, and loves it. He's really done well down there, and I'm pretty proud of him. Going to Chile with no real plan, and ending up owning and operating a hot sauce company that he's grown from the ground up. I was excited to catch up with him, and hear about all his adventures, so we headed out to dinner by where he was staying, and ended up at Craftsman Wood Fired Pizza.

Craftsman is located in Placentia, in the same shopping center as Marie Callender's. Open just over a year, they were named best pizza in Orange County by OC Weekly. Such high praise for a new restaurant, I immediately put them on our list of places to try.

Owned by a third generation restaurateur, Joe Rasic, has brought his experience to his own place. The restaurat was busy with activity on the Friday night we were here to grab a quick bite. Usually these wood fired pizza places are kind of on the stuffy side, but this one kind of had the feel of the old family pizza joints from back in the day. You know the ones that your coach would bring you to after a Little League game, and you would run amuck, begging your parents for quarters all night long. No video games that I saw here, but I was totally focused on the food.

The menu here is of course pizza driven. There are 12 pizzas to choose from, but if you prefer there is also the build your own option. Not in the mood for pizza? There's a few sandwiches offered, and some salads. Another focus at Craftsman is the rather large beer selection. Craft beer rules here, and the selection of large bottles and draft selections was a little overwhelming for me, since I'm not really well versed in craft beers. I basically just picked one at random, and went with it. Our waitress was was pretty knowledgeable about the beers, and when she couldn't answer our questions, she found someone that could. I was way more excited about the pizzas, so let's see if we think this is the best pizza in OC.

We started our meal with these Beer Battered Zucchini ($8). These were a little overcooked, and being that they were beer battered, I thought the outer coating would have been a little lighter, and more flavorful. These fried zucchini were rather boring, and really did not leave a lasting impression on us. The ranch dressing was good though. Nice and thick.

The menu at Craftsman says that their 10 inch pizzas serve 1 to 2 comfortably, and that is definitely the case. The three of us each got one of their specialty pizzas, starting with Katie's selection, the Grilled Steak and Potato ($9). This pizza came topped with sliced potato, tri-tip steak, Gouda, caramelized onions, olive oil, and chimichurri. Katie liked this comforting pizza. The tri-tip was tender, and the chimichurri was a nice alternative to regular pizza sauce. A perfect pizza for meat and potato lovers.

My favorite pizza of the night unfortunately did not come to the table for me. This was DJ's choice, the Meatball and Grilled Peppers Pizza ($9). This pizza came with sliced meatballs, which they get from an outside vendor, a trio of roasted peppers, mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce. The key for me with this pizza was that there was plenty of cheese on it. The meatballs were pretty solid, and the marinara seemed to pop on this pizza. I tried to sneak an extra piece of this, but DJ was having no part of that.

My pizza was so much like DJ's that I thought for sure I would like it just as much. I had the Principal Pizza ($9), which had sausage, garlic, red onions, and jalapenos. I expected this one to throw flavor in my face, but it kind of fell flat. I think it might have been the jalapenos that were the culprit. They provided no spice, and added little in the way of flavor. The cheese and sausage kind of got lost here as well, and the garlic did not even make an appearance. I'd probably try another pizza on any future visits to Craftsman.

Before he left for Chile, DJ asked me to find him the best meatball sandwich in OC. I kind of have been lax on this quest, so I ordered this Meatball and Provolone Sandwich ($10) to show him I was still on the case. This was a pretty good meatball sandwich. It was served on rosemary bread, and came with the same meatballs that were on the pizza, a marinara sauce, grilled onions, and provolone cheese. I would have liked the meatballs to be served whole on this, and maybe a little more cheese, but still a pretty solid sandwich. Not sure who does their bread, but this stood up well, and I liked the hint of rosemary. Still on my quest for a great meatball sandwich.

Without a doubt, the most disappointing part of our meal was dessert. We had ordered this Chocolate Chip Brownie Sundae ($5), which came out totally burnt. We ate it anyways because it still looked good, but there were definitely parts of this brownie that were on the charcoaled side. We liked the ice cream, but the hot fudge could have been a little thicker.

We had a good visit and a good meal with my cousin DJ on this night. Is this the best pizza in OC? In my opinion it is not. It was good, but not great. I like pizzas covered in cheese and toppings, and these were a little light in both of those areas. I did like the fact that this is not a Chipotle style pizza place, which seems to have taken over the entire world. Blaze, Pieology, Mod Pizza, Pizza Rev, and others are decent, but I miss the days of pizza parlors, which Craftsman is a nod towards. We would come back here for sure. Our waitress, Jasmyn was very personable, and explained everything to us very well. I thought the prices were more than fair, and there are other pizzas I'd like to try. A great place to catch up with my world traveler cousin.

Out of five blackboards, (because the owner of this restaurants wife is a Placentia school teacher for over 22 years, and I am a proud graduate of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District), five being best to zero being worst, Craftsman Wood Fired Pizza gets 3 blackboards.

For more information about Craftsman Wood Fired Pizza, go to their website here:

Craftsman Woodfired Pizza on Urbanspoon


  1. Best meatball sandwich in OC? - Cortina's Market and Pizzeria, Orange and Brookhurst, Anaheim - hands down!

  2. MikeHu - Thanks for the recommendation. I have Cortina's on my list, but it's always closed whenever we want to eat there. I'll have to go to the Anaheim one, which is open a little later. Thanks.