The other day I got a chuckle out of what a teenager’s T-shirt had to day: “You can’t make everybody happy—you’re not pizza!” Not trying to please everyone all the time is a decent life lesson. And it is true that almost everyone loves pizza, in some form or another.
Which is why we have so many pizza places in Irvine.
There are old school favorites like Lamppost, Ray’s, First Class, Northwood and the newer Square One, elevated culinary options that include North Italia, Cucina Enoteca and Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana, big brands like California Pizza Kitchen, and the many assembly line-style spots that have popped up in recent years, including Pieology, Blaze Pizza and MOD Pizza.
Now, we can add The Pizza Press to Irvine’s list of options, as the first location of the Anaheim-based brand opened recently at Woodbridge Village Center.
And not a moment too soon, for those families that are often at the center for Focus Dance, Kumon, Yamaha Music or one of the many other after-school enrichment opportunities at the center.
The Pizza Press is my favorite among the fast casual brands. Hey, I’m a sucker for storytelling. I like the nostalgic, newspaper-themed interiors, menu items and branding. Plus, several of the locations have a smarter sense of place than other chains. The first Pizza Press debuted in 2012 on Harbor Blvd. across from Disneyland, and was followed by restaurants in Old Town Orange and downtown Santa Ana. So the choice of Woodbridge Village for the first Pizza Press in Irvine over other more homogenous centers in the city seems apropos, as the center has a more defined sense of place, especially after the remodel. A touch of history, even.
So how is the food? It delivers what it promises: offering up relatively quick, reasonably tasty pizza, how you like it, in a pleasant space. Now, a confession: I don’t love fast casual pizza. In the balance between convenience and cuisine, the category tilts too far toward convenience, in my opinion. Still, because of its location, The Pizza Press has worked its way into my rotation that includes First Class, Lamppost, CPK, Angelina’s and even Costco.
The Pizza Press also wins extra points for good service—lots of smiles at the Woodbridge location—and an adventurous craft beer menu that sets it apart from the other chains. Though convenience and quick service is a main draw, the wait can be longer if a party is ordering several pizzas, and taking their time choosing toppings for each.
Since many of the customers we’ve seen in the restaurant are families, let’s look at options. The main one is called the Jr. Editor, a 6-inch pizza with up to two toppings for $7.50, which includes a drink and a cookie. If your child is picky, go for the cheesy garlic bread. It’s a pizza crust and cheese, with not too much garlic nor spice, and no annoying green bits to upset the particular child. Plus, it’s only $5.
That may be only the second-best deal at Pizza Press. The first is two cans of craft beer for $6. There are several choices in the cooler, though you may have to dig for one you like. There are better choices on draft, with the prices in the normal $6-$8 range.
So what’s next at Woodbridge Village? There are still some vacancies, both existing and (alas) probably to come. What restaurant or kind of cuisine would you like to see at the center?