A few weeks ago, a fellow Laguna Beach foodie recommended I try his vote for Laguna Beach’s “best pizza,” and, honestly, I was a little surprised.
Unfair as it might seem, when there are so many amazing restaurants in Laguna Beach, the residents here (me included) tend to gravitate away from the smaller “fast food” shops crowded around Main Beach. These little food joints have, historically, been “tourist staple fare” that run absolutely flat on the flair. I had assumed (quite wrongly) that the new Laguna Beach Pizza Lounge – on PCH just down from the Hotel Laguna – was one such establishment.
Despite my protestations (not to mention my deep-seated, abiding love for Gina’s thick-crust pizza), my foodie friend insisted I hoof it down to Gary Decker’s Pizza Lounge … and my curiosity got the better of me. I took one of my girlfriends with me to assure complete objectivity.
Pizza Lounge’s pizza by the slice …
Gary opened this little corner pizza restaurant in Laguna Beach last spring, 2010, after experiencing great success creating these same pizza restaurants in Dallas. Although Pizza Lounge serves up hearty, grab-and-go slices from about 8 different daily pizza selections, these slices are the farthest thing from fast-food pizza imaginable.
For starters, the Pizza Lounge’s two best sellers by the slice are not pepperoni … nope, they’re the Artichoke-Pesto-Chicken slice (my friend, Rhonda, scooped this one up), and the Chicken-Goat Cheese-Olive slice. You CAN ask for a simple pepperoni slice, but most patrons prefer to try the Pepperoni-Spinach-Bacon-Sliced Roma Tomato combo, instead (my choice, and I was very happily pleased).
And, one of Gary’s latest creations – Coconut Shrimp Pizza – is quickly edging in as a 4th place contender for the shop’s best selling slices.
These pizzas are built on super thin, daily-crafted crusts, as Gary believes in piling on the flavors with just an “accent” of crust to “keep it all together.” Pizza Lounge also creates gluten-free pizza, and is introducing soy cheese as an option this summer.
Pizza Lounge’s pizzas in the round …
Beyond the obvious need to funnel great pizza by the slice to our wandering walk-about folks, Laguna Beach’s Pizza Lounge also offers a HUGE menu of actual pizza (small, medium and extra large) for dine-in, take-out, and delivery (Call 949-497-2277 to order your pizza). Choose from classics (cheese only, sausage/pepperoni, Hawaiian, etc.), or try your hand at their best-selling gourmet entrees:
- Crowd favorite White Pizza with chicken sausage,
- Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza,
- Santa Fe Taco Pizza,
- Veggie Light and Healthy Pizza or
- Basil Chicken and Pesto Pizza, just to name a few.
Not in the mood for pizza? Try a gargantuan salad (Pizza Lounge offers 14 varieties, which is quite probably the largest salad menu in all of Laguna Beach), grilled panini sandwiches or, in the near future, authentic falafels. Rhonda and I split the Pear and Gorgonzola Salad and still couldn’t nibble through its entirety.
What’s not on the Pizza Lounge menu that you need to ask for anyway …
The Pizza Lounge in Laguna Beach sports a few cool desserts (3 of which are dessert pizzas), but the one dessert item not on its printed menu – a homemade cookie ice cream sandwich – offers fresh-baked cookies of the day in a sandwich that’s assembled only after you place your order. It was fantastic. (If you look at my outside view photo of Pizza Lounge, you’ll see the cookie sandwich poster in the window.)
To our dear proprietor, Gary Decker, my apologies for my wrong assumptions. Pizza Lounge is the phenomenal, thin-crust gourmet pizza experience we’ve all been waiting for in Laguna Beach. Well done!