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Gina’s Pizza is fine dining with plastic forks

DINING OUT

The many fans of Gina’s Pizza & Pasteria are in for a big surprise

when they discover that the popular little Oak Street location on

Coast Highway has just doubled in size.

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Taking over a defunct dry cleaning establishment next door several

months ago energetic principal, Alex Costa, immediately set expansion

plans into motion.

“We wanted more space for our large number of family customers and

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more room for couples and singles,” Costa said, noting that 30 more

seats occupy the new space.

Posed atop beige Italian marble tiles with matching walls are two

booths each accommodating six to eight person. There are a couple of

twosomes and a long, elevated table invites instant camaraderie for

10 or so singles.

“We now have a giant 42-inch TV for sports fans to enjoy the games

while dining or snacking,” he continued.

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Windows fronting the attractive corner site allow a glimpse of the

Pacific and the view will be further enhanced when a quintet of small

sidewalk tables are added as soon as exterior facings are completed.

Be assured, this is no fast food emporium despite the plastic

flatware and the fact that guests order up front rather than at table

via servers. Attesting to quality are the home-style recipes created

by Costa’s late Sicilian mother, whose passion for cooking inspired

the first Gina’s in Corona del Mar circa 1975. With an incredible

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five units currently thriving, it is obvious that her promise of

“cooking in small batches our marinara and pizza sauces, baking

freshly made lasagna and ziti, rolling meatballs with fresh herbs and

spices” prevails to this day.

The personable Costa is rightfully proud of the enticing varieties

of pasta offerings which may be individually customized with a

selection of homemade sauces. The selection includes marinara,

alfredo, red pepper alfredo, red Sicilian garlic and meat sauces. All

are ready to order with a choice of baked meat lasagna, manicotti

prepared with spinach or cheese, spaghetti, mostaccioli, baked

spinach ziti and fettuccine alfredo. The latter two may be ordered

with chicken or a vegetable medley of broccoli, zucchini, carrots,

mozzarella, ricotta and garlic spreads. All, with a side of freshly

baked focaccia stix or garlic bread, are moderately priced from

around $6 to $7 at dinner, subtract $1 or so at lunch. A small salad

with any of these is $1.99.

Gina’s extensive menu also goes beyond the 16 famed pizzas

featured in four sizes, some available by the slice. Or you may

prefer to design your own toppings. Menu options include generous

servings of eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, chicken wings,

calzones, soups, salads, antipasto, hot and cold submarine sandwiches

plus such ala carte sides as savory meatballs and sausages. Popular

take out family packs of spaghetti or mostaccioli are $23.95 , add $2

for lasagna, ziti or manicotti. With accompanying salad, sauces and

garlic bread these will amply serve four hefty appetites. There is

on-tap beer, wines by the glass or carafe. Serve yourself dispensers

invite free refills for medium and large soft drinks.

Warm spirited Italian mottos inscribed below ceilings in the

quaint addition aptly express the philosophy of the hospitable Costa

family: “Viva Bene,” “Spesso L’amore,” “Di Risata Molto” and “Buon

Gusto.” Host Costa will be delighted to personally translate these

pearls of wisdom at your request any time.

* GLORI FICKLING is a long-time Laguna Beach resident who has

written restaurant news and views columns since 1966. She may be reached at 494-4710. E-mail ghoneywest@aol.com.


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