Two O.C. pizzerias rank among ‘50 Best’ in the USA

Truly Pizza in Dana Point was recognized as one of the "50 Best Pizzerias in the USA" for 2024.
(Courtesy of Truly Pizza)
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Orange County pizza has been having a moment, with new pizzaiolas and parlors popping up all over the county, serving a range of different styles of pizza. Last month, 50 Top Pizza, an Italian organization that ranks the best pizza in the world, recognized two Orange County-based pizzerias on its “50 Best Pizzerias in the USA” for 2024.

Truly Pizza in Dana Point ranked No. 42 and Nardò Italian Restaurant in Huntington Beach ranked No. 26 in an official awards ceremony held on June 25 in New York City.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized as one of the 50 Top Pizzas in the USA,” said Truly Pizza co-founder Donna Baldwin. “This accolade is a testament to our team’s dedication and passion for crafting exceptional innovative pizzas.”


Una Pizza Napoletana in New York, owned by Anthony Mangieri, earned the No. 1 ranking for the third year in a row. Other Southern California parlors that were recognized included Pizzeria Sei in Los Angeles, which ranked No. 8, and Tribute Pizza in San Diego, No. 36 on the list.

50 Top Pizza is an Italian organization that launched in 2018 and sends out anonymous inspectors around the world to compile their 50 Top Pizza lists that also rank the 50 best pizzas in Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Spain.

The recognition for Truly Pizza comes as its celebrates its first anniversary after opening in Dana Point last summer. Co-found by Baldwin and helmed by World Pizza Champion teammates John Arena, Chris Decker and Michael Vakneen, Truly offers both a round and a square pizza. The square is a light and airy dough, sometimes called a “grandma slice,” and the round is considered more traditional, with a thinner New York-style crust. Both pies incorporate their “micro blistering” technique that creates tiny bubbles in the dough and bakes up a crunchy dough.

John Arena, Michael Vakneen and Chris Decker of Truly Pizza at the awards ceremony for the "50 Best Pizzerias in the USA."
(Courtesy of Truly Pizza)

Nardò Italian, located at Pacific City in Huntington Beach, is a concept from restaurateur Gianni Chiloiro, who named the restaurant for his mother’s maiden name. Nardò focuses specifically on the region of Puglia, and the pizza is of the wood-fired Neapolitan pizza variety.

The menu is broken up by red pizzas made with San Marzano tomato sauce, white pizzas made without red sauce, and specialty pizza with stuffed varieties, like calzone and tronchetto. Nardò has locations in West Hollywood and Culver City, but the Orange County location was singled out by 50 Top Pizza.

Being part of the Orange County pizza scene, Baldwin said ranking in the top 50 means a lot to her.

“This honor not only elevates Truly Pizza but also shines a spotlight on Orange County’s growing reputation as a culinary destination,” she said. “We’re proud to represent our community and contribute to its vibrant and diverse food scene.”

Inspired by the lemon trees woven throughout Truly Pizza’s patio, the restaurant is offering a lemon-infused special pizza to celebrate the ranking and its one-year anniversary. The lemon pizza is topped with smoked and fresh mozzarella, white sauce, thinly sliced lemon, stracciatella, lemon curd and basil and is finished with a black pepper frico.

“We’re excited to continue our journey and share our love for pizza with even more people,” Baldwin said.