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Rance’s Chicago Pizza in Costa Mesa is asserting itself by operating under the restaurant equivalent of no safety net. They only sell pizzas and are confident in the stretch of their Wisconin mozzarella, the freshness of the in-house tomato sauce, the quality of the meats, the veggies, the dough. Owner Rance Ruiz has a trump card: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, those bricks of cheesy crunch, best approached by fork and knife. He’s not a native—by Ruiz’s own admission, he got the idea after visiting a sister who was studying in the Windy City, so there’s none of that over-the-top homages to sports teams and architectural landmarks like you see with too many restaurants that claim to mimic a city’s food culture ala Philly cheesesteak houses and Memphis ‘cue joints—but it doesn’t matter: his pies are as legit as Rush Street, and it’s all about the cheese. It starts as flowing, milky chunks at the beginning of a slice that start to harden with every bite as you get closer to the sturdy crust, finishing with blackened, caramel-esque sprinkles at the end that would work wonderfully as toppings to a hot dog.