11 Of The Best Places To Find East Coast Style Pizza In San Diego
If you make the mistake of asking an East-Coaster currently living anywhere other than the East Coast where you can get a good slice of pizza, you’re likely to get something like:
“You can’t get a decent slice anywhere around here! The only real pizza is in (insert their preferred East Coast city)!”
Pizza evokes some very strong opinions when brought up in conversation. Everyone seems to have an idea of what qualifies the “best” pie, and obviously, it differs greatly from one region to another. Maybe you’re of the Neapolitan-style, thin and crispy camp, or possibly, Chicago-style deep dish is your jam.
If you’re an East-Coaster, chances are you have the strongest pizza feelings of all, from what constitutes a real-deal pie, right down to the method of how you actually eat it.
Well, here in San Diego, we’re lucky enough to be “hashtag blessed” with a plethora of pizza options, and we’ve taken the liberty to round up 11 of the best places to find East Coast style pizza in San Diego that should please (almost) any East-Coaster.
I won’t tell you lies – there truly is no replicating an authentically East Coast style pizza pie (I think it’s the water), so just go ahead and fugget about that notion (I’m sorry, I had to).
It’s a carb-laden job, but someone’s gotta do it.
This sweet little OB joint has made a name for itself as a mainstay in the world of right-coast style pizza. They’re known for staples such as their “Bacon Rider” pizza, which is a version of their classic Surfrider pie, with bacon, roasted garlic, white sauce, gorgonzola, tomatoes and fresh basil. It’s clear from local conjecture that Surfrider is one spot nailing down the basics, like that perfectly crisp-yet-tender crust, coupled with offering only the freshest of ingredients.
If you’re looking for the epitome of a classic NY slice, but you find yourself in SD, look no further. Nestled in the heart of Hillcrest, what this little walk-up spot lacks in frills, it makes up for tenfold in flavor, and a super thin and crispy crust. Beyond that, if you’re looking for an a la carte slice situation, they have a deal for two slices plus a drink for $6.50 (What are we, in the ’90s? Because that’s amazing). Of course, Bronx also offers a range of delicious whole pie options, if you are into sharing.
Oh, where to begin with this place? Tucked away in South Park, Buona Forchetta offers some truly authentic Italian fare, but today’s task at hand is pizza, and they are ON IT. First of all, their crust is never less than perfect. Secondly, their ingredient offering is seasonally focused, with a heavily Neapolitan influence. Think – potatoes, baby heirloom tomatoes, crispy pancetta and provola. Actually, don’t think about it, just get after it.
If you’re looking for a casual date night, and are craving something in the camp of carbs, Il Centro Pizza e Birra in Little Italy should top your list of contenders. You know you’re off to a good start when you’re grubbing down on pizza with house-made mozzarella. They also offer quite the variety of craft beers, paninis and more. One standout in the show-pony pie department: The Carbonara, with homemade fresh mozzarella, bacon, egg yolk, parmesan, heavy cream and extra virgin olive oil. In my very honest opinion, people who spin pasta recipes into pizza recipes are modern day alchemists.
Don’t let the unassuming look on the outside fool you, inside Ambrogio 15 there is some seriously real-deal Milano-inspired pizza happening, and you need to know about it. One thing that separates the men from the boys in this scenario is the fact that they offer two styles of crust – one being a super thin, crispy style, and the other a whole wheat option with inherently more chew. Both different, both delicious. Onto the toppings – one serious standout they offer is their “Hannibal Lecter” pie, topped with 2-year aged Parmigiano Reggiano, spicy spianata Calabra, Italian sausage, Italian porchetta, imported prosciutto cotto, organic grilled red bell pepper and porcini mushrooms. It’s like a meat lover’s pizza decided to don a tuxedo.
From toppings, to crust, to the bread on their specialty cold cut sandwich, everything on the menu at NY Pizzeria can only be described as fresh. Their options aren’t over-the-top – they’re doing the classics right, but with certain next-level adjustments. For example, a BBQ chicken pizza adorned with habanero sauce, and a breakfast pie (offered Sundays only) with a crispy hash brown base, canadian bacon, sausage, bell peppers, onions and sunny side up eggs – YES PLEASE. Additionally, word to the wise: they offer a cold cut sandwich with mozzarella, provolone, Italian salami, Canadian bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and Italian dressing, all on their freshly baked bread that is not to be missed.
As a card-carrying Italian gal, I know my fair share of “Dom’s,” so I automatically have a certain level of trust and/or expectation for any pizza joint with that particular name in the title. Mom & Dom’s is exactly what you’d expect: a no frills, mom and pop feel, serving up delicious – and seriously HUGE slices. If you’re looking for a casual spot to grab one of the classics, look no further.
Nestled in the heart of Little Italy, Landini’s has become a well-loved pizza mainstay in SD over the years. Their slices are always perfectly thin, never overloaded with toppings, and never lacking in flavor. They are especially known for their by-the-slice deals, and unique options like their Rustica pie with brussels sprouts, balsamic glaze and pancetta, and their Autumn pie with butternut squash, red onion, Gorgonzola and fried sage.
Pesto isn’t so much of an East Coast style pizza joint, as it is an East-meets-West Coast style pizza joint. Their pie offerings are sincerely drool-worthy. With options like the Farmstand with marinated eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, artichoke, sun dried tomatoes, basil, goat cheese and organic tomato sauce, or the Prosciutto Bianca, with ricotta, Pecorino Romano, cherry tomatoes and garlic, wrapped in prosciutto, there is sure to be something for everyone. Speaking of something for everyone – they also offer a variety of delicious pastas and salads for those wanting to deviate from pizza-ville (but who would?).
I have a good Italian friend in North County that grew up in tough Italian neighborhoods in New York City. He is ‘particular’ about his pizza (aren’t all East-Coasters?!), and he’s a regular at Bongiorno’s in Solana Beach. So you know it’s the real deal. The website for Bongiorno’s specifically calls out the East Coast transplants living in San Diego, offering you a little slice of home.
One spot that is marrying deep-dish with the crust crispiness most of us know and love, and that spot is Berkeley Pizza. Their deep dish is packed with flavor, in a slightly less dense format than the normal pie of this variety (leave it to San Diego to sort of lighten up deep dish), which is what lends itself to their crispy crust. Their atmosphere is perfect to grab a beer and enjoy a slice, coupled with some Gaslamp people-watching. Definitely check them out if you’re looking for a departure from your everyday slice.
Wow! We knew when we posted about East Coast-style pizza that we were going to get some heated opinions…no shock there!
But man, the fans of Pizzeria Luigi were so shocked and appalled that they weren’t on this list that we were worried there would be riots in the streets of San Diego!
The people have spoken, and who are we to argue? Their pizza is great! You can get a slice of Luigi’s in Golden Hill, North Park, and Imperial Beach.
Our writer Dani promises that she meant no harm. 😉