One wonders what reservoirs of resolve the owners of Terra Mia Pizzeria in Laguna Hills drew from to open this spot. It's in Laguna Hills, for starters, a city that's actually quite underrated as a food town (hosting Break of Dawn, Villa Roma, Colombian Kitchen and Mercado Corona is a great start)—but it's still Laguna Hills, where most of the buildings and homes look as if they're stuck in the Nixon administration. It's in the back of a shopping plaza, sharing a building with a swim school, a pharmacy, a shoe store and a vacant space. Terra Mia's dining room is so barren—just some stock photos of Gotham, a television and an autographed photo of Buffalo Bills legend Andre Reed—you wonder if it'll still be around a week from now.
But sit down after picking out a couple of slices and hefty nubs of garlic knots from the counter shelves and witness the miracle: a parade of people coming in for pick-up orders. MILFs. Bros. Executives. Old folks. Teens. Commuters taking a quick break from the hellish I-5 traffic just a block away. Everyone's coming for Terra Mia's fabulous dishes, Italian-American splendor in a region that doesn't have enough of it. Start with those pie slices, deceptively slender like a political pamphlet, sturdy and crunchy enough it'd draw stern stares at a library. Dunk those knots, hefty enough to leave a bruise if you hurled one at someone. Marvel at the size of the calzones and strombolis. And while all the subs are delicious and made on a fluffy Italian roll that nevertheless can hold all the ingredients inside, go for the chicken Parmesan: perfectly breaded and maintaining its crispiness in a sea of marinara.
Terra Mia's menu doesn't extend much beyond the pizzas and subs—a couple of baked dishes, salad and tremendous cannolis made to order. But that's okay; such simplicity is perfect for this hidden spot. May more success come to it, and may Terra Mia take over the vacant spot next door to remind folks Laguna Hills is on the rise—it ain't Laguna Niguel, after all.