Event - Johnny's Real NY Pizza Tasting

Since May 2013, the Bluffs Shopping Center in Newport Beach has been home to the second Johnny's Real NY Pizza restaurant. Its first location opened July 2011 in Corona del Mar and has been a local favorite there since for their authentic New York style pizza, great service, fresh ingredients (like sweet Italian sausage, Genoa salami, Italian pepperoni, and a 100 year old meatball recipe), and attention to quality. This one located on 1320 Bison Avenue in Newport Beach is nearly 2,000 sq. ft large with five HD TVs, beer in bottles and on tap, and wine offerings. We cracked back a glass of Peroni with others at a media tasting last week and got to try out a majority of the menu.

"While you're biased when you own the joint, I can say this is really, really good pizza."
To stay true to the cultural influence of New York (and the Sicilian look), Johnny's Real NY Pizza is branded in red, white, & green via countertops, parlor stools, merchandise and more. Owner Johnny Younesi spoke to us about how the restaurant started from his origins growing up in Queens to his career in law to his desire to bring happiness via authentic New York pizza to Orange County. His first restaurant venture was Stella's but pizza was in his blood; a real parlor needed to be opened. The focus wasn't just on making good pizza but just good food using great ingredients. As Johnny told us, he wanted to "Build something authentic without compromising so we can develop and grow."

One of the pride and joys of Johnny's, however, is the water purification system they researched and installed at the restaurant. Built to remove harder water chemicals in California water to better emulate New York City's tap water (rated the highest quality tap water in the country!), this system was put together to make the best dough and crust possible (and for normal water consumption, of course). We really appreciated knowing that they cared from the ground up on what goes into their product. It was fun to get behind-the-scenes a little and see their staff making pizzas and dishes; everyone was very hospitable and friendly. In his words, "[We] take our time to make sure our staff is as purely filtered as our water." That's fairly important for all locations but even more so for this new location which will draw in more people with their new menu items of specialty Italian/NY sandwiches and pastas.

The starters and appetizers seemed endless. We had their Big C's Best Eva Garlic Knots ($5.99 - fantastic and full of garlicky goodness), Johnny's Famous House Salad ($7.95 small, $11.95 large, $15.95 family - loaded and demolished quickly), Johnny's Hot Wings ($9.95 - bold and spicy without remorse), Sicilian Style Fries ($4.50 - garlicked beyond recognition, in a good way), New York Style French Fries ($3.95 - lightly seasoned and crisped to a beautiful golden brown), and Authentic Italian Mozzarella Sticks ($6.50 - nearly the best I've ever had with their pure Mozzarella and lightly seasoned crunchy shell). Curious about how much went into the salad? He tried to incorporate everything he loved so the salad had romaine, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, Kalamata olives, baby corn, sundried tomatoes, Mozzarella & Parmesan, Genoa salami, italian mortadella, and peperoncinis in a house dressing popular enough to be sold alone soon.

Then the pizzas came out. They were thin-crusted beasts, able to be ordered as 12", 16", 20" pizzas from $12.95 and up. With a dough made fresh daily, they were all very enjoyable. The meaty ones we tasted were their The Fontaine - "the Best Pepperoni You Eva Had" (pepperoni, mozzarella, and tomato sauce) and Andolini - "The True Sicilian" Johnny's Favorite (housemade meatballs, genoa salami, sweet italian sausage, fresh herbs, mozz, and tomato sauce). I'd have to say that the Andolini was my favorite for the evening because of the amount of savoriness. In true New York fashion, we had to fold our slices in half in order to fit the giants in our mouths. The thin crust loudly crackled as we folded the slices, showing off us how perfect they were for all the thin crust lovers. The cheese pulled off stringily from our mouths with each bite too. While they do have many set flavors, you can also make your own with toppings from $1.25 up each. By the slice, it's $3.25 cheese, $3.50 pepperoni, $4.00 andolini.

Other pizzas had were the Cheese - "The Best in the City" New York Classic and a special called their Bambino (pepperoni, green bell peppers, garlic, and onions). These had the same delicious signature crust but with a meatless focus. Johnny was extremely proud to bring out their Penne Bolognese ($12.95 - housemade Bolognese sauce served over penne pasta) because of its origins from a "timeless family recipe." Local and national market chains are looking to bottle this up and sell it too because it's just that good. We loved the hearty helpings of meat in each mouthful and its feel-good homestyle comfort.

Before we left, we had to pop at least one of their O's famous NY cinnamon knots (with housemade glaze dip) in our mouths as dessert. There were also plenty of their sandwiches out for display that we had no more stomach real estate for. However, they looked positively delicious, and if the same amount of food lovin' was given to these as their pizzas, they're surely a good order.

Our thanks to the whole team that had us over (Corey, Angie, Johnny, and Jan) that night to taste their pride and joys. If you're on the search for authentic New York pizza, make sure to drop by the Newport Beach or Corona del Mar locations; perhaps a pizza party is in order soon? You need a bite into their thin crust, the way NY pizza's "s'posta be!"

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.

Johnny's Real New York Pizza on Urbanspoon



  1. This looks so good! I made pizza today too.

  2. Great photos! Now I'm craving pizza!

    1. There are worse things to crave than this pizza ;] You should try them out to get rid of that want!

  3. We have brought Johnnys pizzas back to the team at work for lunch meetings a couple of times now. Always a big hit with the team.