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Pizza e Vino: Reppin' the RSM

[Hole In the Wall] This Rancho Santa Margarita restaurant sells artisan pizzas from a tiny storefront

The Blind Pig in Rancho Santa Margarita is going to be a fabulous restaurant, with a team that draws from places we've deemed best of the best (the Crosby, Broadway By Amar Santana) in the past couple of years. I say "is going to be" because by the time I got to its soft opening last week, the place was slammed—seems half of South County was there to party in the cozy spot. Unfortunately, I was famished and had no time to wait for my dinner (but I'll be back soon), so my chica and I went across the way to Pizza e Vino.

I wanted to pop into the tiny eatery, which I hadn't visited in about a year and never formally reviewed. Oh, it's lurked around our pages, both in the dead-tree and Internet edition, but it's all the way in Rancho Santa Margarita, which might as well be Mars for nearly the rest of Orange County. And nothing against the town, but a restaurant better be worth the long-ass drive for me to review it. And thankfully, that's the case here: From the fast service to the EDM music that pulses when the young workers rule the roost to spectacular products, Pizza e Vino is worth all the hype it has earned and all the gas you'll spend to get here. The owners make a big deal about the wood-burning oven and ingredients imported from the motherland being certified by some Italian organization or other, but I and three-quarters of eaters don't care about pedigree; we want good pie. You can get it with a sweet tomato sauce or none, with toppings that range from salty anchovies to milky cheeses to enough cuts of pig to make an Iowa farmer rich. Despite being made to order and cooked in that fabulous furnace (and thus taking a bit of time), Pizza e Vino's prices are shockingly affordable—I've seen young adults dressed as though they just emerged from 24 Hour Fitness sit on the patio instead of heading over to Little Caesar's in the same shopping plaza.

Pizza e Vino isn't a full Italian restaurant—although the appetizers are as great as the pizzas and it offers a daily pasta, the pies are understandably the focus here. But it's worth the drive down the 241 toll road—or, if you're like me and don't use toll roads out of protest for what those empty asphalt gulches did to our hills, instead take Alicia Parkway to Santa Margarita Parkway. Pop in, then head to the Blind Pig for drinks, and your RSM trip for the year is complete.

 
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