Pizza Nova delivers a menu that mixes old, new and a view.
By Lauren Matich | Photos by Jody Tiongco
“Neighborhood friendly” is the term that General Manager Tyler Williams uses to describe the vibe at Pizza Nova. Open since August 2014, the eatery is a mix between a familiar pizza stop and a chic waterfront restaurant dressed down to its most comfortable form.
Strands of twinkling globe lights invite patrons to find their way into the cozy space, but they stay for the view—a waterfront vista of the sun setting behind Lido Isle, interrupted only by the occasional boat drifting by. The prime location also boasts a dock for patrons who come by sea. Proving its dedication to serving the neighborhood it calls home, Pizza Nova also runs a delivery service throughout parts of Newport Beach, “The only thing we don’t do is deliver by boat,” Tyler laughs, as he imagines a Pizza Nova delivery boy on a WaveRunner.
It would be easy to say the view is the restaurant’s greatest asset, but that wouldn’t be doing the kitchen justice. The menu mixes inventive combinations and authentic pairings, which find their way into dishes that run the gamut between fresh fish, Italian pastas, comfort foods and, of course, pies with every topping under the rainbow.
A simple starter, the Best salad arrives in a sharable size and whets appetites with caramelized walnuts, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese. But what takes the salad to the next level is the apple cider vinaigrette, which, Tyler explains, is homemade and poured on top of the salad while it’s warm. If pizza puts you in the mood for something a little closer to its Italian roots, try the familiar combination of juicy red and yellow tomatoes, thick slices of fresh mozzarella, sweet basil and balsamic vinegar in the caprese appetizer—it proves that Pizza Nova chefs honor the classics just as successfully as they dream up their own new concoctions.
When ordering a pie, however, it’s worth the risk to try something new, and the goat cheese pizza fits the bill. The handmade crust is topped with olive oil before being layered with smoky pancetta, red onions and goat cheese; finally, fresh spinach is added to neutralize the richness of the other ingredients on the plate. Specialty dishes such as the chicken Marsala offer the same familiar Italian inspirations, but, topped with an assortment of mushrooms and served with bacon-sprinkled garlic mashed potatoes, the notes of comfortable, American classics provide the best of both worlds.
And don’t forget to wash all of this down with a glass of something special. The star of the cocktail menu, a fizzy drink appropriately called Bubbles Down Under, tickles the palate with sparkling wine, St-Germain elderflower liqueur and kiwi. But knowing that pizza often calls for a cold brew, the bar (which hosts daily happy hours) keeps on tap an array of craft brews largely sourced from the San Diego area, where the trio of co-owners began Pizza Nova 25 years ago.
A quarter-century later, Pizza Nova is still growing, bringing to Newport its combination of classic dishes reinvented and the fresh ideas that are the result of its dedication to service. And that makes it a neighbor worth visiting again and again.