Food & Drink

The best pizza in 18 San Diego 'hoods

Published On 10/15/2014 Published On 10/15/2014
Sara Norris

Pizza is like sex. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. (And when they're good, both are amazing). But unlike pizza, we can't do a "Best Sex by Neighborhood" guide. At least not yet. If we decide to, we'll put out a call for researchers. In the meantime, here's a guide to the best pizza spots in 18 San Diego neighborhoods.

CUCINA urbana

Bankers Hill

Cucina Urbana (address and info)

By far one of the best Italian restaurants in SD, this California-inspired kitchen and wine shop has a separate pizza bar and reasonably-priced specialty pies, like smoked salmon with lemon crème fraîche, and prosciutto with pineapple & serrano chile. You can do an add-on of fennel sausage, a farm egg, and/or white anchovy for $1.50-$3, and if you come in on Thursdays, you'll get half-off on their pies.

Cardiff

The Besta-Wan Pizza House (address and info)

Opened in 1965, we love this kitschy, '60s-inspired pizza institution's California-style pies, like BBQ chicken and Kraut-za (with spicy sausage & sauerkraut). It's not pizza, but you'll also want to try the munchie menu, which is packed with pulled pork street tacos, calamari, mozzarella sticks, and Magic Mushrooms. Not that you know anything about the munchies.

Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria

Encinitas

Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria (address and info)

Headed up by fine dining-trained chef, Wade Hageman, we love A) Blue Ribbon's top-notch toppings like prosciutto and hand-stretched mozzarella, B) the perfectly textured crust, and C) their butterscotch pudding, which puts all other puddings to shame (which, since it's pudding, probably isn't that hard... but still). 
 

East Village

​Basic (address and info

This 5,000sqft Downtown restaurant and bar is known for their thin-crusted, New Haven-style pies -- specifically the Mashed, a white pie topped with mozzarella, GLOBS OF MASHED POTATOES (!!!), and bacon. Other pluses: dancing and cocktails (which help enormously with the aforementioned dancing).

Pizzeria Luigi

Golden Hill

Pizzeria Luigi (address and info)

Once visited by a certain frosted-tipped Food Network personality, Luigi Agostini's place does more than twenty different NY-style pies ranging from the Capone (pepperoni, sausage, meatball), to the Frenchy (ham, pear, caramelized onions, blue cheese). These guys also named a pie after each of the Ninja Turtles, to which Master Splinter said, "But remember, my son. To be a patron at a Luigi's, you must bring cash, for they do not accept credit cards."

Hillcrest

Bronx Pizza (address and info)    

Opened in 1997 by Bronx-native, amateur boxer, and former body-shop guy, Matt Gardner, we literally could not do a "Best Pizza in SD" list and not include Bronx. They've got sixteen to eighteen varieties of thin-crusted pie slung by NY-ex pats, and offer two slices and a drink for $6 ($1 more than when they first opened in '97 and offered the same deal). Fun fact: a lot of the Bronx/New York-themed photos around the restaurant (including those of famous boxers) are brought in by customers: New Yawk-loving folk whose relatives played for the Yankees, etc.

La Jolla

Regents Pizzeria (address and info)

There's not an enormous amount of competition in this 'hood (except for Pizza on Pearl, which is also a-may-zing), but decade-ish-old Regents is destination-worthy, slinging both New York and Chicago-style pies made with a stone deck oven imported from Italy. Pluses: a selection of good craft beers, wine, and they deliver.

Isola Pizza

Little Italy

Isola Pizza Bar (address and info)

The deals at Massimo Tenino's place are insane. During happy hour (3-6pm), everything -- including beer, wine, and food -- is $5 or less. That's incentive enough already, but the rock-solid pies put it over the top. Make sure you hit up nearby Monello and Napizza at some point, too.

Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria

Mission Hills

Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria (address and info)

Run by a family of Chicagoans, this pizza institution does pies three ways: thin & crispy, deep dish, and stuffed (the first two options are available by the slice for $6.50). In our humble o-pie-nion, you should go with the stuffed: a buttery, flaky crust loaded with 14in of mozzarella cheese and a straightforward sauce. Chase that with a Chicago-style hot dog, and loaded fries topped with cheddar or bleu cheese, bacon, etc. Then clear your schedule for the next week or so.

Blind Lady Ale House

Normal Heights

Blind Lady Ale House (address and info)

This beloved beer bar busts out crunchy-crusted, Neapolitan-style pies, ranging from classics like Margherita to specialties like the egg & bacon. FYI: the name is a nod to the building's former tenant, the Automatic Venetian Blind Lady. Zia Pizza DEFINITELY (definitely) deserves a shout-out here, too.

Sara Norris

North Pizza

Sicilian Thing Pizza (address and info)

North Park has an incredible collection of pie places (URBN, Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano, Caffé Calabria), but we really love Sicilian Thing. Opened by a guy who worked for Bronx for ten years, this spot does pizza two ways: Sicilian square & thick, or round & thin. Pro tips: try the Almost Lasagna, loaded with ricotta & meatballs, and come in on a Tuesday -- it's any slice and a beer on tap for $5.

Pizza Port Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Pizza Port (address and info)

Brother and sister Gina and Vince Marsaglia opened the first Pizza Port location in Solana Beach in '87, and five years later PP offered patrons its first craft-brewed beers. PP has six locations, consistently good pizza, and it's one of the best craft breweries in the country. Plus, the Beer Buddies (they're not people, they're made of bread) are freaking amazing.
 

Oceanside

Brooklyn Boyz Pizza (address and info)

All three locations (Vista, Carlsbad, Oceanside) are totally legit, serving crazy-good, authentic NY-style pies, and other mainstays like calzones, pasta, and heroes. Like the sandwich. Not like Superman.  You would eat Superman!?!

Hoboken Pizza Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Hoboken Pizza & Beer Joint (address and info

Whether you're stumbling out of PB Shore Club or The Silver Fox, Hoboken is open until 2:30am on Fridays and Saturdays. It doesn't hurt that the pizza tastes delicious at regular times of day, too.
 

Point Loma

The Venetian Restaurant (address and info)

For almost 50 years now, this family-run local-favorite has served straightforward pies alongside hearty Venetian dishes like chicken marsala and veal parmigiana. Try one of their specialty pies, like The Genovese, which comes with caramelized scallops and prosciutto. Yeah. On the same pizza. It works.    
 

Santee

Filippi's Pizza Grotto (address and info)

Started as a deli and grocery on India St back in 1950, this family-run pie spot offers everything from veal scaloppini to baby back ribs to calamari rings. Filippi's may not be fancy, but the plates are huge for what you get. Also there's something about the cheese, and there're fourteen locations -- including one in Temecula (if you absolutely must go to Temecula). This longtime pizza veteran is a San Diego standby.

Bongiorno's New York Pizzeria

Solana Beach

Bongiorno's New York Pizzeria (address and info

This dine-in-or-carry-out spot on Stevens Ave serves some of the best NY-style pies in North County at $2.50 a slice. Also: the Buffalo garlic chicken pizza. You should consume it.

Buona Forchetta

South Park

Buona Forchetta (address and info

Made Neapolitan-style with top-notch olive oil (co-owner Matteo Cattaneo is from Italy, and his family produces it), these pizzas are wood-fired in a mosaic-tiled Ferrara oven and topped with things like Brie, house-made fennel sausage, and prosciutto. Pro tip: save room for tiramisu.

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Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. CUCINA urbana 505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Bankers Hill)

CUCINA urbana, a pizza and wine bar right off Balboa Park, is reliable for a long list of Italian classics: from short rib parpardelle to spicy shrimp Puttanesca tangled in angel hair pasta. The best time to come to the rustic-chic space, though, is during happy hour, for cheap cocktails and discounted pizzas. Doughy, sugar-powdered zeppole will leave you wanting more.

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2. The Besta-Wan Pizza House 148 Aberdeen Dr, San Diego, CA 92007 (Encinitas)

Opened in 1965, this kitschy, '60s-inspired pizza institution serves up California-style pies like BBQ chicken, as well as a munchie menu (pulled pork street tacos, calamari, mozzarella sticks, Magic Mushrooms).

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3. Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizza 897 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 (Encinitas)

This gourmet pizza resto goes above and beyond to use sustainable practices using organic produce, while using local sources whenever possible -- which includes their seven beer taps stocked with local brew.

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4. Basic 410 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

This trendy East Village pizzeria and brewpub is serving pizza that's anything but basic: pies are super fresh and anything-but-simple. The quirky "Mashed" pie with mashed potatoes, bacon, and mozzarella, is a favorite. Converted from an old warehouse, this space boasts a 5,000 square foot lounge and restaurant, will a full bar and an open-air setup.

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5. Pizzeria Luigi 1137 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102 (Golden Hill)

Featured on Diners Drive-Ins & Dives, Luigi Agostini's place does over twenty different NY-style pies, ranging from the Capone (pepperoni, sausage, meatball), to the Frenchy (ham, pear, caramelized onions, blue cheese). These guys also named a pie after each of the Ninja Turtles, to which Master Splinter said, "But remember, my son. To be a patron at a Luigi's, you must bring cash, for they do not accept credit cards."

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6. Bronx Pizza 111 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

This Hillcrest slice shop is known (and loved) for classic NYC-style pies and calzones with so much variety that it may take several visits to find your favorite. The no-frills seating area is fine for a quick bite, but if you want a full pie, it’s better to call ahead for a fresh one to-go. There’s no delivery, and the parking situation is a permanent pain in the butt, but pies this good are worth the trouble.

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7. Regents Pizzeria 4150 Regents Park Row, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

Regents in La Jolla slings both New York and Chicago-style pies made with a stone deck oven imported from Italy. You can get a whole pie if you’re willing to wait, or head directly to the slice case for instant gratification. Appetizers, salads and sandwiches round out the menu in addition to a selection of good craft beers and a solid wine list. The space, located in a strip mall, is bright, simply decorated and often busy.

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8. Isola Pizza Bar 1526 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

Insane deals like $5 margherita pizzas at happy hour (3-6pm daily) make Massimo Tenino's pizza shop stand out from the somewhat intense competition in Little Italy. The baseline wood-fired pie needs no improvement, but there are plenty of pie varieties offered to keep the menu interesting. Their flour is imported from Naples, and the wine they serve is from Pietro Rinaldi Winery -- a family establishment in Piemonte, Italy, so you can be sure that every bite and sip is plenty authentic.

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9. Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria 4030 Goldfinch St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

A Windy City-inspired 'za place that dishes out not only the deep and cheesy/saucy type of pie that is wayyy better than the Cubs, but also sammies and Chicago-style dogs.

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10. Blind Lady Ale House 3416 Adams Ave, Normal Heights, CA 92116 (Normal Heights)

Normal Heights' Blind Lady Ale House scores with its thin crust pies and great beer selection from local and nationally renowed craft brewers. Stop in for a beer flight or an insanely cheap and insanely good $10 Margherita pie. For something a little bit fancier, cheese-heaped quattro formaggi and meat lovers' pies topped with house-made sausage and chorizo hit the spot.

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11. Sicilian Thing Pizza 4046 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

Sicilian-style pizza is a rare breed in San Diego, and nobody does it better than this longstanding shop in North Park. Don’t be fooled by the modest digs: aside from perfecting the namesake style, it also does a bang-up job on New York-style pies. Not sure what to order? The Sicilian-style Almost Lasagna, named one of the eight best pizzas in the city, is a great pick. Daily specials encourage mid-week pizza consumption, while everyday prices are so reasonable that it makes sense to order one pie of each style and plan on lots of leftovers.

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12. Pizza Port - Ocean Beach 1956 Bacon St, San Diego, CA 92107 (Ocean Beach)

Brother and sister, Gina and Vince Marsaglia, opened the first Pizza Port location in Solana Beach in '87, and in '92, PP offered patrons its first craft-brewed beers. PP has six locations, consistently good pizza, and it's one of the best craft breweries in the country. Plus, the Beer Buddies (they're not people, they're made of bread) are freaking amazing.

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13. Brooklyn Boyz Pizza 2183 Vista Wy, Oceanside, CA 92054 (Oceanside)

All three locations (Vista, Carlsbad, Oceanside) are totally legit, serving crazy good, authentic NY-style pies, and other mainstays like calzones, pasta, and heroes. The Oceanside location is very laid-back and casual.

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14. Hoboken Pizza & Beer Joint 1459 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

Whether you're stumbling out of PB Shore Club or The Silver Fox, Hoboken is open until 2:30am on Fridays and Saturdays. It doesn't hurt that the pizza's totally great, too.

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15. The Venetian Restaurant 3663 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92106 (Point Loma)

For almost 50 years now, this family-run local-favorite has served straightforward pies alongside hearty Venetian dishes like chicken marsala and veal parmigiana. Try one of their specialty pies like The Genovese, which comes with caramelized scallops and prosciutto.

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16. Filippi's Pizza Grotto 1747 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

Craving a slice and looking to take a 5ft bottle of red wine home? Look no further than Filippi's, a Little Italy spot that's been doing its thing for over 50 years now. With both a deli and a restaurant inside, Filippi's has all the Italian you need, and can likely handle with their enormous portions of all the classics.

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17. Bongiorno's New York Pizzeria 524 Stevens Ave, San Diego, CA 92075 (Solana Beach)

This dine-in-or-carry-out spot on Stevens Avenue serves some of the best NY-style pies in North County at $2.50 for a slice. Also: the Buffalo garlic chicken pizza. You should consume it.

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18. Buona Forchetta 3001 Beech St, San Diego, CA 92102 (South Park)

Buona Forchetta is cozy with a patio ideal for enjoying a glass of wine. The secret to its irresistible Neapolitan-style pizza is Sophia, a gleaming, golden, wood-fired oven designed by Stefano Ferrara in Naples, and named for the owner’s daughter. This South Park favorite has 35 pies at the ready and you really can’t make a bad call, whether you go simple with the margherita or opt for more substantial toppings. Pro tip: hold on to the olive oil and balsamic from bread service; you’ll want a puddle of it to drag your crusts through.

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