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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Family Affair at Gina’s Pizza and Pastaria

The smell of roasted garlic and onion fill the air. I can also detect the smell of roasted tomatoes and peppers most likely from a slow cooking marinara sauce somewhere deep within the kitchen.  It’s mixed with the sweet dough smell of fresh-from-the-oven-pizza causing my stomach to grumble with hunger. The aromas led me to imagine what an Italian grandmother’s kitchen would smell like on a Sunday afternoon as the family gathers to take part in the weekly ritual of breaking bread together…and I know that this is going to be a home style meal that I will LOVE.

Gina’s Pizza is a family-style Italian restaurant that was opened in Corona Del Mar in 1975 by Gina. She had impressed more than her family with her Sicilian cooking and decided to open up a restaurant that focused on the home spun recipes of her childhood. Now, more than 35 years later Gina’s has expanded to seven locations in Orange County, with three of them here in Laguna Beach. Their two main Laguna Beach locations have become a local favorite for casual dining and finding a GREAT slice of pizza. Their third location in town resides on the Festival of Arts grounds and is only open for business during the summer festival season in July and August.

House Special

The famous House Special Pizza still starts with the same dough recipe that Gina used in 1975. The pizza is double-baked with the dough and sauce going into the oven first. Next, the toppings are added: pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, roasted peppers (roasted fresh daily), red onions and mozzarella, resulting in a delicious pizza pie that is finger-licking good.

Gina’s Pizza is still family-owned and lead by one of Gina’s sons who keeps his mother’s memory alive at every location. You will  see family photos dressing the walls, and of course smell and taste her recipes that come to life. Even the ranch dressing is a Gina secret recipe! Rumor has it  that many locals buy this dressing by the pint because they love it so much. When you are dining at Gina’s you get a sense of family pride from the staff. In North Laguna, the locals know the delivery driver by name, (Ishmael), as he has been with Gina’s since the mid 80s. In fact much of the kitchen staff has been with Gina’s for many years. Their children’s  placemat menu features the  adorable Amelie, Gina’s 3-year old Granddaughter, who has even added a few items to the menu.  

Over the years new items have been added. One of the tasty new items featured is the Calamari Fritti, a hearty helping great for sharing or to be enjoyed as a main entrée, made with homemade spicy diavola sauce.

Many of the newest menu items are ‘tested’ at the summer festival alfresco location. Each summer you can experience new and beloved menu items and even a few specialty dishes that can’t be found at any other location.

The South Laguna Gina’s location is the pizza-by-the-slice hot spot for locals and tourists, as they are finishing up a day at the beach. You can challenge yourself to finish the mega 38-inch slice if you dare.

All in all, Gina’s Pizza is a food-centric concept, with all ingredients prepared fresh and never frozen. This  is a perfect family dining spot or casual night out with friends. Visit this Laguna favorite and prepare to have your senses tantalized and your belly filled.

610 N. Coast Hwy. (at Boat Canyon)
Happy Hour from 2pm to 6pm with food and drink specials
Wednesday’s kids eat free
Banquet room available for rent
1100 S. Cost Hwy (at Oak St.)
Happy Hour from 2pm to 6pm with food and drink specials
Wednesday’s kids eat free

Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road
Open in July and August during the summer festival season

By: Anne-Marie S.


  1. I love Gina's after a great beach day with the family at Oak St. We love the meatball sandwiches and of course the pizza. Salads are awesome also! We live in Laguna Audobon and work for Carpet Cleaning Laguna Beach
    We absolutely love Laguna and all it has to offer! I love our local blogs we have found!

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