Aaron Tofani and Rance Ruiz met as 3rd grade students in Orange County 25 years ago and their enduring friendship has laid the groundwork for the debut of the pair’s third Rance’s Chicago Pizzeria at the $700 million USC University Village (835 West Jefferson, Los Angeles). Joining the popular Belmont Shore and Costa Mesa eateries, the 3rd Rance’s location is expected to open on Saturday, November 11 and will take its place among the complex’s other restaurants and retail stores including Trader Joe’s, Target, Starbuck’s and Cava. The new 74-seat, 2,000-square-foot restaurant with patio will serve the same distinctive pies that have earned them critical praise including a restaurant industry Golden Foodie Award for “best pizza”
Rance’s Chicago Pizza distinguishes itself by using all fresh ingredients with everything made from scratch so the restaurant has no need for a freezer. It will offer three versions of its signature pie: stuffed, pan and thin crust pizza. The stuffed version consists of a thin layer of house-made dough filled with high-quality cheeses and the guest’s choice of ingredients. It is then covered with another thin layer of dough to seal and lock in all the flavors. After being topped in Rance’s zesty tomato sauce, the pie is baked for about 40 minutes before being served.
Rance’s Pan Pizza is its signature item and uses a slightly thicker, richer dough than the stuffed version. The floury mixture is placed in a seasoned deep-dish pan and topped with the guest’s choice of ingredients along with a generous amount of Wisconsin mozzarella. Lightly covered with a zesty tomato sauce and gentle sprinkle of pecorino, the pie bakes for 40 minutes before being served.
Perhaps the simplest alternative is the thin-crust pizza, which is layered with Rance’s signature sauce, topped with the guest’s pick of ingredients and covered with fresh cheese. This pie only takes 30 minutes to prepare.
Rounding out the menu are distinctly Italian appetizers like meatballs and marinara, garlic cheese sticks, artichoke dip and bruschetta topped with fresh diced tomatoes, garlic pesto, feta cheese and sliced red onions. Pizza by the slice is also available weekdays during its all-day Happy Hour from 11 am to 6 pm.
Among the salads are a Caesar, spinach, caprese and house. Rance’s offers 30 specialty beers on tap and a variety of wines by the glass or bottle.
“We searched long and hard for the right pizza tenant for USC Village,” said Laurie Michelle Stone, USC associate senior vice president for real estate and asset Management. “We wanted something unique and eclectic that delivered big and bold flavors. Rance’s Chicago Pizza hit the mark on all fronts.”
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
OC Register: “…Nobody in Orange County has perfected Chicago-style pizza better…”
Orange Coast Magazine’s “OC’s Best Pizza”: “…The thick rim’s interior is like a flaky pastry and its exterior is a uniformly beauteous golden hue...”
CBS Los Angeles: “…If you are looking for a great pizza with Chicago-type flair, this is it…”
OC Weekly: “…His pies are as legit as Rush Street, and it's all about the cheese. It starts as flowing, milky chunks at the beginning of a slice that start to harden with each bite as you get closer to the sturdy crust…his stuffed pizza (two layers of cheese) is even better…”