Finally, there’s a deliciously creative and fun brunch option at South Coast Plaza worthy of Sunday Funday shenanigans, which may or may not include shopping after!
Pizzeria Ortica launched their Sunday brunch service on August 6th with friends and family enjoying the collective efforts of Executive Chef Justin Miller, Sous Chef Colleen Flynn, Beverage Manager Joel Caruso, and General Manager Jason Scarborough.
OC foodies and visitors to South Coast Plaza can now enjoy Pizzeria Ortica’s modern spin on savory Italian breakfast dishes, along with a few sweet additions, and unique liquid libations every Sunday instead of waiting for one of the must-do brunch days of the year.
Pizzeria Ortica’s location on Anton Blvd. – an easy walk from South Coast Plaza, could easily be #1, but let’s start with the cocktails – ‘cuz it’s brunch, and our focus is the food and drink. Six fabulous libations grace the menu, along with a well curated selection of wine, bubbly and craft beer, but there’s one drink in particular that made me swoon.
#1 – The Cocktails – all deliver more than the average brunch choices. The P.O.G. Spritzer is an upgraded mimosa worthy of Costa Mesa’s destination shopping and performing arts mecca. The blend of passion fruit, orange, guava and bubbly ($10) puts a refreshing tropical twist on the traditional brunch favorite. Joel (@amaroguy) Caruso changes up the standard Bloody Mary with a pickled shrimp adorned Pescatarian Mary (your choice of gin or tequila, $14) and the Vegetarian ($11) with vodka, house Bloody Mary Mix and a showy garnish of pickled vegetables that outshines all the ubiquitous bacon versions out there.
But for me, it was the El Duderino, @amaroguy’s take on a White Russian, that is embedded in my taste memory. This cocktail is all about the elaborate process of “milking” sweet corn to arrive at a house-made corn punch with no artificial flavors or processed corn syrup. The corn milk punch is combined with Borghetti coffee liqueur for a deliciously decadent adult beverage that even The Dude would abide ($11). Note the photo depicts a sample size.
#2 – Savory Morning Buns – especially for those who favor savory over sweet, these little buns are the perfect nibble with your cocktail as you decide which of the other enticing dishes to order. Fresh made in the morning, the curlicue dough is brushed with what looks like chocolate but instead is a robust tomato conserve and sprinkled with salty, aged Parmigiano Reggiano. Plus, at $3 – it’s hard to resist ordering more in addition to the complimentary ones delivered to your table.
#3 – Stuffed Squash Blossoms – summer’s signature elegant starter is stuffed with luscious housemade lemon ricotta encased in a mere suggestion of an airy batter yielding a feather-light edible flower beautifully plated with orbs of heirloom cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic ($11).
#4 – Housemade Fennel Sausage in a brodo with braised Cavolo Nero, Calabrian chile ($14, add egg $17). Pizzeria Ortica’s fennel sausage pizza is a personal favorite and it’s bold flavor does not disappoint in its brothy brunch incarnation either. Not a soup, but vaguely reminiscent of Italian Wedding Soup, this dish is sheer comfort food like nonna used to make and is actually based on a family recipe of Chef Justin’s. Oh, and by the way, Cavolo Nero is the Italian name for Lacinto or black kale.
#5 – Homemade English Muffins – just WOW! I was going to pass to save on carbs, but when exclamations circulated around the table, I had to try the beautifully browned round with all the nooks and crannies necessary for butter and jam to settle into – and I’m so glad I did. (Served with whipped butter and preserves, $6)
6. Wood Grilled Shrimp, Fried Green Tomatoes and Anson Mills Polenta – a delightful combination of flavors and textures: plump sweet grilled shrimp, cornmeal crusted fried green tomato, and velvety Anson Mills polenta in each bite ($15). Anson Mills grows and mills one of the most diverse collections of heirloom grains in America and their fresh native stone-ground organic ingredients milled from new crop heirloom grains, legumes, and oil seeds are the culinary standard.
#7 – Poached Eggs with Roasted Asparagus – with just the right amount of salty speck and a sprinkle of hazelnut breadcrumbs languishing in a pool of creamy Fontina fonduta is absolutely sublime in its egg porn glory ($16).
Hungry for more? Feast your eyes on a few of the other delectable choices.
Oven-roasted Skirt Steak Sandwich | roasted tomato, arugula, horseradish panna.
Fritatta | rapini, smoked pancetta, potato, Parmigiano Reggiano.
Baked eggs in San Marzano tomatoes | zucchini, chile, crostino.
I think you’ll agree that Chef Justin Miller and Sous Chef Colleen Flynn have raised the bar on brunch!
Thank you, Chef – we’ll be back before the squash blossoms disappear!
South Coast Plaza, 650 Anton Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626