Hole In the Wall: Laventina's Big Cheese Pizza Feeds the Balboa Peninsula and More

I've eaten the epic pies of Laventina's Big Cheese Pizza for more than a decade now—really, as long as I've been at the Weekly. Thick, sturdy, cheesy slices; mediums as big as larges, larges giant enough to cover a tractor wheel rim. Pineapple and jalapeño for toppings, or pepperoni tossed with sausage. Always a couple of sides of ranch dressings to make the chewy, crispy crust at the end much better. Even every once in a while, I get one of the underrated subs—just to say I vary it up, you know?

Laventina's has fed me through highs and lows, drunken nights and futile weekend dates, poverty and semi-poverty—through controversies, Chucks and the transformation of the Balboa Peninsula from a beach-bum paradise to an area slowly but surely getting gentrified. I buy five large pizzas every other month for the Weeklings; they devour them in less than half an hour. Laventina's is a part of my Orange County story, as much as Alebrije's and hating pedophile priests. But the most amazing thing about Laventina's? I've never actually been there.

All my Laventina's experiences have been from a box, from pizza delivered to wherever I was or picked up by whichever pal or worker lived nearby. Every time I visit the Peninsula, there's just no reason for me to stumble toward its iconic storefront off Newport Boulevard, to its yellow awning that floats in the air as though a lunar beacon, and argue for a slice or three—most likely, I would've already had my fill of slices and be more in need of Dad's Donuts by that witching hour. And besides, if I'm already there and haven't yet had my fill, I know the morning will involve a couch, a friend and cold Laventina's grabbed right from the fridge, microwave be damned.

Never been? Go. The late-night crowds, the daytime beauties, the eternal tossing of dough—my friends who've lived nearby over the years swear by the experience, say it's as essential to the Peninsula identity as Blackie's and a May-December BL!SSS model romance. But I won't do it. Fortune has blessed me with an eternal Laventina's supply, and why mess with perfection? Yep: I'm a superstitious fuck.

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