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Italian-style Pizza in San Diego?

Josh Nov 5, 2009 04:12 PM

Went to Italy and was blown away by the pizza there. Is there anyone in San Diego making even a close approximation? I ate at Luigi's today and was filled with despair.

  1. honkman Nov 5, 2009 04:14 PM

    Which style are you looking for Naples, Roman, Sicilian ? You won't find any of them in SD but I am just curious

    1 Reply
    1. re: honkman
      Josh Nov 5, 2009 07:58 PM

      Roman style, I guess. That was my favorite on the trip.

    2. SaltyRaisins Nov 5, 2009 05:30 PM

      I am always on the lookout for the type of pizza you long for (I love pizza a taglio when in Rome, and I am usually very happy with any old pizzeria in greater Italy- even pizza for tourists can be excellent), and am certain that it does not exist in SD. The closest I've had in CA is at Madeo in Beverly Hills, and in the US, unaccountably, Sarasota, Florida, where I work for a few months every year. They have a serious expat community that demands perfect pizza- the cooks are all from Naples at the TWO places that do it right.

      I think the problem is that while the basics for pizza can be had anywhere (the correct flour, good water, old yeast cultures, great marinara and perfect cheese), other toppings/flavors are very hard to find over here with the same pungency and depth as they do over there- great aciughe, wild ruchetta, fresh porcini etcetera- and that can make you search forever for that flavor. Not to mention finding a good pizzaiolo and a rip-roaringly hot wood oven. Let me know the moment you do find it, but I'm not keeping my fingers crossed. Cheers.

      3 Replies
      1. re: SaltyRaisins
        r
        royaljester Nov 7, 2009 06:02 AM

        Totally, even the basic ingredients like cheese, mushroom, and tomatoes are of a completely different intensity and flavor. In Japan I know one place that does it well, and they fly in the ingredients from Italy, trained their chefs there too. So there must be something to it.

        I noticed in Europe the dairy products are much better than here, whether it's France, Swiss, Italy, even Britain. One theory was related to pasteurization laws here in the US, though not sure how much that would account for it.

        Well I don't know of anything in SD that's like Italy, but if you don't mind a cheap / fast food imitation Z Pizza in UTC has a decent Napolitan and they get the crust right. Good topping quality, but again not Italy. Hard to complain though at $2.5 a slice without having to fly.

        1. re: SaltyRaisins
          Josh Nov 21, 2009 01:38 PM

          During SD Beer Week I ate pizza at Blind Lady a couple of nights, and was really pleasantly surprised by how close it came to what I had in Italy - certainly far closer than a place like Luigi. It wasn't exactly correct - the crust was a little too chewy, and not blistered enough around the perimeter, but the flavors of the sauce and toppings was good. I'm anxious to try Bruno, and Calabria whenever they get that going, but Blind Lady is a pretty decent approximation of pizza in Italy, IMO.

          1. re: Josh
            p
            pickypicky Nov 22, 2009 06:21 AM

            So glad to read this post. Blind Lady IS worth a visit. Sometimes I get sad on CHOW because places who survive, who put out good food day by day, get eclipsed by newer places or by bad news, like closures. I miss woodfire on my BLAH pizzas, but they are inventive and fresh. The dough is real. The love is all there. Chef Aaron has VERY high standards-- and what other pizza place in town has a real chef?

        2. s
          stevewag23 Nov 5, 2009 05:43 PM

          I think a place like this would do extremely well in san diego.

          2 Replies
          1. re: stevewag23
            r
            royaljester Nov 7, 2009 06:06 AM

            Unfortunately if someone had the staff and desire, they'd almost always target a place like NY, San Fran, even LA before considering SD. It's not even saying they can't make good money in SD, they'd just make better money in any of those cities. And that's being optimistic, some places like Better Half just couldn't reach critical mass here in SD.

            It takes an owner with guts to take the road less traveled here. We may be starving compared to LA / San Fran but there's less of us and less "critical mass" for this kind of dining.

            1. re: royaljester
              s
              stevewag23 Nov 7, 2009 05:51 PM

              Well said.

          2. notjustastomach Nov 5, 2009 06:09 PM

            Luigi? New York pizza has an integrity all its own, but it should not be compared to the traditional forno a legna pizzas of Italy.

            The New Haven style pizza at Basic comes closer to what you had in Italy. But again, ultimately, you're talking about apples and pears.

            To satisfy your desire, I would recommend the new Pizzeria Bruno. I've been there once and was surprisingly pleased. It's no Pizzeria da Michele. But the ingredients are all fresh and high quality, and the pizza was cooked well in a hot wood fire. My major quibble was with the dough. Pizza dough should be springy. In my opinion, Bruno's dough was too soft.

            (4207 Park Blvd San Diego, CA 92103-2512 - (619) 260-1311

            5 Replies
            1. re: notjustastomach
              m
              maxwellg Nov 5, 2009 09:00 PM

              Actually I thought it was spot on to the places I tried in Naples, (Roman pizza is totally different), regret I never made it to da Michele, but Brandi and Pizzeria Salvo (which was my favorite) were great, but all the crusts were extremely soft, since all those places used Caputo flour, which I spied in the backroom at Bruno's. Looking forward to seeing how this place evolves.

              1. re: maxwellg
                DiningDiva Nov 7, 2009 05:10 PM

                Tried to do Bruno's for lunch today with a friend. Unfortunately, it was not open. Are they only doing dinner at the moment?

                1. re: DiningDiva
                  m
                  maxwellg Nov 7, 2009 10:10 PM

                  It was open in the day today (Sat), I did not see the hours posted, but that is by far the best pizza I have had in San Diego, the crust is real light and toppings are top notch, it was packed at 8:00, hopefully they will be open in the day. If anybody finds out please let me know.

                  1. re: maxwellg
                    DiningDiva Nov 8, 2009 09:00 AM

                    I was there at 11:45 and it was closed up tighter than a drum with no sign of activity inside. Sounds like they're a dinner only place at this time

              2. re: notjustastomach
                s
                stevewag23 Nov 6, 2009 12:55 AM

                "The New Haven style pizza at Basic comes closer to what you had in Italy."

                Wow. We are really starting to stretch things on here like Stretch Armstrong.

              3. c
                cstr Nov 6, 2009 04:03 AM

                What part of Italy did you visit? Tell us what you noshed on.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cstr
                  y
                  yanks26dmb Nov 6, 2009 06:38 AM

                  Best New Haven Style: Basic
                  Best NY style (I grew up backe ast): BY FAR Bronx Pizza in hellcrest

                  after that...your guess is as good as mine..

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

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