Ojai Pizza Company
331 E. Ojai Ave.
It should be mandatory. Every town should have one of those comfy, reliable, sit-down pizza restaurants where you can take family and friends. San Diego has Filippi’s Pizza Grotto in Little Italy and the Bay Area has Toto’s. Los Angeles … well, better not to get into it with L.A.
In Ventura County, Ojai has just such a spot.
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown, Ojai Pizza Company offers a great place to take your company after strolling around the Arcade or Libbey Park. And that’s where I took my visiting guest a few weekends ago.
For starters, we ordered slices of the cheese pizza and the pepperoni pizza. With a choice of five pie sizes, it was an easy mix and match. Of all the tomato pies we shared, the cheese pizza was my personal favorite — with a subtle marinara sauce, adequately cheesy-goopy mozzarella and (important) a crispy, crusty dough flatbed — but then again, I’ve always been a pizza purist, preferring to taste the pie over drowning it in toppings. The pepperoni pizza was similar; its sliced toppings tasty and not too leathery.
We also deviated from the traditional red-sauced variety to try one of the many alternate pies. In truth, it was my guest’s idea to go the green sauce route as I wasn’t 100 percent sold on the idea of riding off the traditional pizza rails on my very first visit. The pesto shrimp pizza, however, proved surprisingly resilient, with its pesto sauce pushing into the background, generously showcasing a mise en scène of garlic, red onion, bell peppers, feta and mozzarella with soft, bulbous shrimp topping the entire affair.
As far as specialty pizzas go, Ojai Pizza Company also offers the Santa Monica pizza (double pepperoni, sliced pepperoncini, lettuce, tomato, Italian dressing), Manhattan pizza (pesto, seasoned chicken, marinated artichokes, red onion, Italian sausage), Mediterranean pizza (artichoke hearts, feta, zucchini and red onion), The Bomb (a sweet and spicy mix that includes pepperoni, garlic, pineapple and jalapeño) and a meat special pizza (pepperoni, Canadian bacon, ground beef, Italian sausage), as well as an array of self-evident pizzas ranging from Mexican pizza and bacon cheeseburger pizza to BBQ chicken pizza, vegetarian pizza and pesto chicken pizza.
Just like its pie toppings, Ojai Pizza Company is not thin on atmosphere. Brick walls, inviting booths and large tables galore, and a homey sports-bar vibe all make for an intimate experience where you second-guess whether or not you’re somewhere in Boston. It’s not very Italian feeling but it nevertheless feels friendly and communal here, eating among your fellow pie-lovin’ pisans.
Prices here are slightly above going pizzeria prices but that’s to be expected. (This is Ojai, after all.) That said, you get much bang for your buck, and if you order the larger-sized pies, you’ll have plenty left to take home, too. (On an aside, Ojai Pizza totally passes the reheating test the following day.)
Ojai Company is a style of comfort food pizza; a sturdy type of pie that will scratch your pizza itch and satisfy. In this arena, Ojai Pizza Company (pardon the pun) delivers.