Eat Here, Not There: Pizza

Everyone craves pizza because we're talking a meal based on bread and covered in cheese. Chains involving tables, huts and brew houses work in a pinch. Neighborhood joints can be nostalgic, almost Cheers-like.

To go beyond the acceptable taste of Costco-style, but not so chic as Pizzaria Ortica, we travel along the eastbound 91, almost to the 909. A pizza freakish enough that others turn a blind eye. We're talking about meat, pickles and mustard . . . the pastrami pizza.

Pepz has a handful of locations, but Yorba Linda is the destination for this take on Italian. The combination is so hard to wrap one's head around it sounds like Claro's Market and Harry's Deli had an illegitimate child that was shipped off to boarding school. Until you bite into one, it's tough to translate the taste.

The savory pastrami is sourced locally from Pocino Foods, based in City of Industry since the 1930s. Cured in brine, covered with spices (allspice, pepper and garlic, for starters), smoked and finally steamed, it possesses a far more complex flavor than your run-of-the-mill salami or sausage. It's studded throughout the pie but, thankfully, doesn't cause a food coma because of Colonel Mustard's characteristic sharpness. The condiment cuts the meat overload short. To that, pickle chips offer an unexpected juicy texture. When everything melds, the pizza has a roundabout sweet-and-sour profile going on that keeps one craving for more. It's so wrong it's right.

Maybe if it had to be analogized, Pepz's pastrimi pizza is akin to a BJ's Sweet Pig. Just much, much better.

Pepz Pepperoni's Pizza, 20355 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, (714) 777-4440;

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