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San Diego's Filippi's Pizza Grotto

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Hounds,
I will be going to San Diego for a weekend. I heard Filippi's Pizza Grotto is great. What is so great about it? What should I order? What should I stay away from?

Thanks in advance

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  1. What is so great about it? I'd like to know the same thing myself, and I live here!

    I wouldn't waste one of your few weekend meals there. It's average red-checkered-tablecloth Americanized Italian food.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      What is good near the Sheraton on Harbor View?

      1. re: CHEFBUCK

        Hm, well there's not much precisely near that hotel - you'll need to cab/drive from there. I don't know that area too well, so others will have to chime in. You're kind of near downtown, and I like Cafe Chloe a lot. That's definitely a good choice. They do brunch on the weekends and that's really good, though the dinner is good too.

        1. re: CHEFBUCK

          Do you have a type of cuisine that appeals to you, and/or a target price range? As Josh said, you are not that far from downtown (and the Gaslamp District - search for that if you want to see a lot of disagreement) and a lot of places, so knowing your preferences might help people tailor their suggestions.

          1. re: CHEFBUCK

            Walk down to C Level Lounge (East end of Harbor Dr., about a 5-10 minute walk from your hotel). Ask to sit out on the patio, have a drink or two and an appetizer. Watch the boats, look at the naval vessels across the bay, and simply chill. This is one of the best views in town. The food can be wildly inconsistent, but drinks are usually pretty good. Island Prime, the other half of this restaurant, is an upscale and very expensive restaurant, which, IIRC from your previous posts, is not what you're particularly interested in. C Level won't break your budget and if the weather is nice, it's a very pleasant way to recover from jet lag.

          2. re: Josh

            I'll agree that it is average red-checkered-tablecloth Americanized Italian food but the one in Little Italy does at least have a nice deli.

          3. If you select the "Search this board" link above, and type in "Filippi", you'll get a few recent threads that discuss their pizza and other items. You'll find a few fans, and more non-fans, mostly having a problem with the "Americanized" aspect of their food (though IMO you can still be Americanized and pretty good - not sure if they fit that category). I do think that even the people that are pretty pro-Filippi's would say that it is not a destination restaurant, especially for somebody here only a few days.

            There are quite a few old-time San Diegans, when suggesting restaurants, throw out what I call the "F twins" - Fillipi's (a local chain, though many claim that the Little Italy one is better) and Fidel's (an old-time Cal-Mex in south Solana Beach, a bit north of the Del Mar racetrack and fairgrounds). I guess a while back, it was difficult to do a lot better than those places in a reasonable price range, so I could see fondness developing, but there are so many other options now...

            1. In defense of Fillipi's. Is it trendy, unique, light or bistro style? NO. But it is consistent fairly good "traditional" Italian. (I know for Italian purists it is traditional "American-Italian" but it is the red checkered type of place most Americans think of, if you say italian.) The thing is, it's not trying to be something it's not.

              If you like cheese on your pizza, you'll like Filippi's. I warn against ordering extra cheese on ANYTHING because it will be too much. As far as favorites, mine is the lasagna - a half order is definitely large enough. Be warned, the downtown location is the original and on weekends, there may be a line out the door. They do have other locations and I've eaten at the one in Chula Vista but not the others.

              1. I have to agree that Filippis isn't exactly destination eating. Its really a place for locals to sit back and eat relatively decent pizza and Southern Italian (albeit Americanized) food. The Italian population in San Diego originally came here to fish tuna, not cook, and it shows.

                As for what to order: the pizza is pretty good and somewhat unique. Its a dense pizza, heavy on the cheese, with an okay crust. The pasta is okay, and the sauce isn't bad. Really, there's nothing to avoid, but there aren't too many stand-outs either.

                Again, Filippis is really more for locals looking to eat Italian food after a long day at work. I had sports banquets there as a kid. I like it, but it isn't someplace I'd go out of my way for.

                1. Filippi's isn't going to blow any ones socks off. However, I enjoy the food that I eat there...that's limitted to their hot torpedos, meatball sandwich, pizzas, and a cold beer. I'm partial to the Mira Mesa/Scripps Ranch location too.

                  1. I haven't eaten there in many(!) years, but the Little Italy location's deli counter and small grocery is a reliable source of Italian stuff -- everything from fava beans to gabagool. They may or may not serve authentic Italian (whatever that is), but they can certainly provide you with the stuff to make your own.
                    . . . jim strain in san diego.
                    p.s. I can't speak for the taste, but when you walk into the Little Italy location, it smells like heaven.

                    1. Many men who were in the Navy/ USMC and were on a Med Cruise/Float have come back and say FIlippi's reminds them of their port call in Naples. To echo Jim Strain; yes, the Little Italy location smells like Italy. In a good way.

                      As far as food- we get a pizza with sausage and an antipasti salad and Chianti. Perfect.

                      1. Filippi's is decent, but we tend to like a thinner crust, less saucey NY style in our household. If you can get yourself to Hillcrest, go to Bronx Pizza for a real authentic pie! Enjoy SD - we're having lovely weather! :)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: sierramistress

                          do you know what street it's on? we've been trying to find NY style pizza since we moved here.

                          1. re: beth1

                            It's on Washington

                            -----
                            Bronx Pizza
                            111 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103

                            1. re: beth1

                              Skip Bronx and hit up Pizzeria Luigi in Golden Hill. Great crust, much closer to what you get in NYC than Bronx, IMO. Bronx is decent, but I think Luigi has better crust.

                              1. re: Josh

                                Personally I like Bronx more than Pizzeria Luigi. I agree that the crust is better at Luigi but I was unimpressed with the rest of the pie. IMO Bronx has a better taste.

                          2. Started as a deli in the 50's (there's a menu on one of the walls from that era and the most expensive item is $2.25), the restaurant is the red-checkered-table cloth-with-basketed-Chianti-bottles-hanging-from-the-ceiling Americanized Italian restaurant that everyone says it is.

                            As a former resident of San Diego and now as a resident of the pizza wasteland of San Jose, I have to say I miss Filippi's. Is it a destination restaurant? Nope. And, to be fair, I only order two things. The cheese pizza and the (not on the menu) eggplant parmesan sandwich. Add any toppings to the pizza and its just not the same. Likewise I like the house Chianti with the pizza. Were it presented to me anywhere else I'd probably not be into it. That said, all you have to do is move to a city that has only crappy pizza choices and you really start to appreciate Filippi's

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: barrywe

                              Barrywe, have you tried the food at Amici's East Coast Pizzeria? There's one in downtown San Jose (225 W Santa Clara St) and they make what I consider a pretty good thin crust pizza. They bake them in brick ovens and the crusts are crispy on the bottom. The pasta dishes are also very good, and I like their salad dressings, particularly their caesar. They are a local chain that started in San Mateo. I've always found their food to be high quality and consistently good. Not cheap, but you pay for quality.

                              http://www.amicis.com/location_dtsanj...

                              By the way, after living in Oakland for over 13 years I found PLENTY of places that were way better than Filippi's. One of the best was Mulberry Street Pizzeria in San Rafael. Most everything they make is excellent.

                              1. re: nileg

                                eek! Filipi's is mediocre at best but my kids love it. imho the best NYpizza is Bronx but in PB, Hoboken and Liberty and Amore are really good. (I am from NY). The eat-in atmosphere is no good in those unless you like the goth-black, blaring surfer video mode of Hoboken.....
                                If you just want to do some fun, no-frills Italian, try Cafe Zucchero. There is a cute little courtyard for dining in the back and the canoli's are freshly made and great. Nice pastas too and close to downtown.

                                1. re: keena

                                  Yah, it's a basic tomato pie old school pizza, I only like the India St. location, I think it's the old ovens at that location that make it a little better tasting. It is a deal and good for the kids, you won't leave hungry.

                                2. re: nileg

                                  I've had pizza from Amici's and Pizza Antica in Santana Row. Both are good but different. For me Filippi''s on India Street is comfort food and so far, have not come close to finding something like it in the South Bay. I understand Berkeley and the East Bay has some really good pizza but haven't made the hour trip north.

                                  San Diego also has Pizzeria Luigi and Bronx which are thinner crust and really good.

                                  1. re: barrywe

                                    FYI, the Encinitas Filippi's (the one on Enc. Blvd. east of El Camino Real right near the entrance to Trader Joes, et al) is closed. We passed by it late Friday night and it was dark. And dark again over the weekend. There's a note on the door, we haven't read it, but it's closed. It only lasted a little over 1 year. I've always liked their pizza and I'm sad to see it go.

                                    1. re: encinitaseater

                                      The opened in one of the great kiss-of-death locations. No way it was going to last. It wouldn't have even helped if Fillipi was good pizza.

                                      1. re: The Old Man

                                        I was wondering how long it was going to last in that location. It was never really that busy, especially when you see how busy the other Fillipis are. I saw maybe 2 to 3 tables full at the most when I was in there. I am also wondering how Brett's is doing across the street. It seems kinda slow there as well.

                                        1. re: littlestevie

                                          I talked to the manager at Brett's. He was catering a party I was at. He says the owners knew that would be a tough location. I also think it will be gone within a year. Better to have a mostly carryout place like Joey's, at least in Encinitas/Carlsbad.

                                      2. re: encinitaseater

                                        Like The Old Man and littlestevie, I wasn't surprised that Filipi's didn't last there. That spot is terrible. It didn't help that the service at that location was usually sub-par and poorly run. Brett's across the street is also in a bad spot but when I've been in there it's been busy and it's awesome to-boot. I hope that one sticks!

                                        1. re: RebJaeBoe

                                          With as much traffic going past there, I can't believe they can't make it work there. That corner is the Bermuda Triangle of restaurants.

                                          1. re: RebJaeBoe

                                            I'm glad to hear this. The food I had at the party was pretty good and I've been planning on going there soon.

                                            1. re: The Old Man

                                              It's not bad pizza nor great pizza. I do like their sauce and they are generous with the cheese though I find their crust to be a bit to doughy for my tastes.

                                              1. re: oerdin

                                                I was referring to Brent's, not Filippi's.

                                        2. re: barrywe

                                          If you are in the East Bay you might also want to check out Zachary's Chicago Pizza. It has a more substantial crust with a light corn meal dusting on the bottom and might be a bit closer to the pizza you're accustomed to from Filippi's. It is a local favorite.

                                          http://www.zacharys.com/locations.html

                                          As for other places in San Jose...Willow Street Wood-Fired Pizza was ok, but I still prefer Amici's. Good luck on your quest. Anyone who has read the lively discussions on the relative merits of different San Diego pizzerias is aware of how deeply personal one's pizza preferences can be.

                                          http://www.willowstreet.com/