If Costa Mesa is the county's epicenter for the nouveau-pizza movement best exemplified by Pizzeria Ortica, then North County is the land of the dinosaur joints, where places such as Cortina's in Anaheim and Placentia's Tony's Little Italy haven't changed their pie recipe in decades, if ever. Fast-food pizzerias dominate the landscape, so it's always nice to see a newcomer try to get into the biz, as is the case with Pie-ology in Fullerton.
Online reviews note Pie-ology resembles Chipotle in its ordering process. There's the single-file line diners get funneled through until they reach the person in charge of the dough. Hanging next to him is a sign that would be better placed closer to the entrance because there are seven predetermined options to choose from, from regional favorite barbecue chicken to a number of meat-free options, including one consisting of marinated artichokes, mozzarella, parmesan and “dollops of sauce on top.” Of course, if none of these sound appealing, one has the option of creating his own combination, all for the same price of $7.50.
Although nobody was behind me, I didn't want the undue pressure of such decisions on a weekend, so I finagled a meaty version of the No. 4: mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta, fresh basil, black pepper, olive oil, plus an add-on of sausage.
Dough Guy created my pizza in front of me, asking for my name, which he neatly wrote in one corner of the paper my pie rested on. I was directed to the cashier, conveniently standing behind a foil-wrapped display of Ding Dongs(!), the single dessert choice. However, I did not falter, ordering a fountain soda and scanning the room for seating options, of which there were many.
Prime real estate are the (already taken) couches. Living-room-sized, armless, colorful spots that easily hold three ravenous Cal State Fullerton students. Deuces have hard-bottomed stools locked down into the floor. Other stools line a countertop, facing the parking lot. There's even a loooong communal table down the center of the dining space, perfect for the group of guys I see wrapping up their meal. The room itself is industrial, with metals, glass and a garage door like that of the Counter Burger in Irvine. Signage has a retro vibe, with cursive phrases like “Pay Up” and “Washrooms.” A centralized speaker system hangs with several mini-speakers facing outward. Everything would be copacetic, if not for the half-dozen kidlets running rampant while their respective sets of parents all but ignore them and their vocal games, which echo off the walls and into my almost headache.
Also worth noting is the hand-sanitizer device by the main entrance and 30-minute parking spots directly out front. As acceptable as reheated pizza may be under normal circumstances, I wasn't about to eat thin crust takeout, with rain starting to come down the day I visited. Spaces facing the street are unmarked, and therefore are preferred for those in no rush. Even if one is rushing and utilized the prepaid pick-up line, rest assured the pizza pie is almost ready. Mine was kindly delivered to our table in under five minutes.
I'll admit, the thin crust was tasty. Maybe because it was very evenly cooked, with a toothsome quality I previously haven't experienced. I even busted out my NYC “fold the slice in half” move to fit more in my piehole, allowing a slight drip of olive oil to occasionally escape out the back. The seemingly harmless Italian sausage imparted a kick in the finish, but was neutralized by melty ricotta blobs. Fresh herbs and spices further enhanced my white-pizza dream.
As I sat there, pleased by this dining revelation, I spotted a Chipotle across the street. I wanted to email Steve Els and inform him that this is America's Next Great Restaurant. For less than $10, I had a fresh, hot, satisfying meal that can be customized to my liking. Like its slogan states, “All the stuff that should be made daily by hand . . . we make daily by hand.” With three weeks under its belt, I'll be making the drive.
Pie-ology Pizzeria: the study of kustom pizza, 516 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 447-4064.