New York and Chicago can have their childish shouting matches over who makes the best pizza. We’ll just be down here enjoying some of the finest cheese and crust creations in the country (and we’ll probably head to the beach afterward because, well, we can). From no-frills slice shops to tavern-style restaurants with top-notch tap lists for perfect pie pairings, take a look at the 10 best damn places to eat pizza in San Diego.

 

Tim King Photography/Block 16 Hospitality

13. Project Pie

Hillcrest

It’s tough to say which of the many different fast-casual, Chipotle-style pizza chains in San Diego does the genre best, but Project Pie has earned an edge over the competition for holding it down for over three years in Hillcrest (a competitive restaurant neighborhood, to say the least). Here, if you don’t already know, you can build a pizza with whatever you want on it (or everything!) for one reasonable price. Don’t feel like making decisions? There’s also a menu of pre-designed pies that are reliably tasty, like the No. 8, a white pie with Brussels sprouts, red onion, and prosciutto.

12. Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano

North Park

This tiny slice of a pizza shop was the first in town to offer traditional Naples-style pies baked in a blisteringly hot wood-fired oven. And while many shops now sport a similar setup, none of them sling pies with as many delicious leopard spots (char) as the originator. Don’t forget to make good use of the Calabrian chili oil on absolutely everything (... maybe not dessert).

Isola Pizza Bar

11. Isola Pizza Bar

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 if you’re looking to expand your experience beyond the basics, options like the burrata e pomodorini (a similar pie that leans a touch sweeter) or the taleggio e patate (taleggio cheese, roasted fingerling potatoes, mozzarella, and mushrooms) are well worth paying full retail.

KYLE HALL/THRILLIST

10. Buona Forchetta

South Park

This neighborhood 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, like... well, would you LOOK at all that prosciutto? 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.

ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST

9. Monello

Little Italy

Pizza makers at this hopping Italian restaurant owned by the same team behind Bencotto put the same dedication into crafting a perfect pizza dough as they do fresh pasta next door. The dough (made with yeast and flour imported from Italy) slowly ferments over several days before it’s stretched, topped, and baked in a brick-lined gas oven. The Bencotto pizza -- with ricotta, mozzarella, and the same pink pancetta sauce that goes over noodles next door -- deserves a spot on your must-eat list.

Regents Pizzeria

8. Regents Pizzeria

La Jolla

Regents deserves props for doing many things very well. There’s a killer draft list, along with worthy appetizers like scorching hot wings and a bacon plate, plus all manner of salads and sandwiches. But the pizza is where it really shines. You can get a whole pie if you’re willing to wait, or head directly to the slice case for instant gratification. There’s many different varieties of NYC-style and Chicago deep-dish pies here (a rarity!), so the only responsible thing is to get one of each.

7. Bronx Pizza

Hillcrest

This slice shop is known (and loved) for classic NYC-style pies that clobber your hunger with the strength of a heavyweight. The Whitestone (a white pie with mozzarella, garlic, and dollops of creamy herbed ricotta cheese) is a must, but so are the calzones and house specialties, like the triple-threat Porko (pepperoni, sausage, and meatballs), so it’ll probably require a few 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.

ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST

6. Stella Public House

East Village

Hydroponic basil (grown in tomato tins on top of the bar), house-made mozzarella, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, and a crisp, light crust come together in perfect harmony on Stella’s picture-perfect margherita pie (the benchmark of any great Neapolitan-style pizzeria). But those with a taste for adventure will also enjoy some of executive chef Jade Griego’s more inventive creations, like pies topped with baby purple artichokes & roasted red pepper, or wild ramps & walnut pesto. A carefully curated draft list stocked with 33 rotating craft beers and a patio overlooking the neighborhood’s newest park are two major bonuses of getting your fix here.

CUCINA urbana

5. CUCINA urbana and CUCINA enoteca

Bankers Hill and Del Mar
When you want a nice night out but aren’t prepared to ignore your pizza craving, this duo of restaurants is the perfect compromise. The thin-crust pies baked in a 600-degree oven tend to lean slightly cheffy, but familiar flavors ensure they’re never too precious. The pancetta and Brussels sprouts (a béchamel sauce pie with fontina, red onion, roasted garlic, and chili) is an excellent choice. Want something more traditional? The spicy coppa (a red sauce pie with spicy salami, house-made mozzarella, pepperoncini, Calabrian chili, and basil) is like a grown-up pepperoni pizza.

Alan De Herrera/Napizza

4. Napizza

Little Italy (& other locations)

High standards and a commitment to perfection in the details secure this Roman-style pizza shop’s reputation as one of the top destinations for pizza in San Diego. The rectangular slices are crafted from a dough that takes three days to develop, resulting in a crisp, airy crust that is easier to digest than your standard NYC-style pie. Premium toppings like homemade basil pesto, truffle pate, and organic chicken seal the deal. The best plan of attack is to pair up with a partner and sample several varieties, like the Bapo, truffle porcini, and pollo e pesto.

3. Blind Lady Ale House

Normal Heights

Thin-crust pies with crisp, blistered edges and an excellent selection of brews keep this Normal Heights pizzeria busy. It should come as no surprise to hear we wish there was another location (or locations) in the works. For now, we’re more than happy with the cheese-heaped quattro formaggi and meat lovers' pies topped with house-made sausage and chorizo.

SARA NORRIS/THRILLIST

2. Sicilian Thing Pizza

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 like the $6 slice-and-a-beer deal on Tuesdays 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.

COURTESY OF BIGA

1. BIGA

Gaslamp

BIGA gets top marks for offering quality pizza at prices so affordable you might think you’re living in a dream world. Prices start at just $7 for a classic margherita pizza (and top out at $11 for a triple-meat pie). You really can’t go wrong here, but the nutty, tangy, and earthy flavors of the mushroom pizza with roasted garlic, parmesan, pecorino, house-made mozzarella, and thyme is pretty much perfection. If you want something extra indulgent, custom-build a fried pizza. The brief dip in hot oil gives the crust a crisp, flaky texture that you need to experience at least once.

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Erin Jackson is a San Diego-based food writer and photographer who loves sharing her latest finds. If you enjoy food and cat photos, by all means, follow her on Instagram @ejeats.

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1. Flour & Barley San Diego 789 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

After Pizzeria Mozza shuttered, this prime piece of real estate in The Headquarters sat empty for far too long. Luckily, another pizza purveyor -- this time, a Las Vegas import -- moved into the space and fired up the ovens once more. The restaurant feels at home in the family-friendly plaza, with its approachable menu of New York-style pizza and signature entrees from chef JC Colón, whose impressive resume includes stints at Searsucker, Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge, and CUCINA urbana.

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2. Project Pie 3888 4th Ave, Hillcrest , CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

Hillcrest is one competitive restaurant neighborhood, but Project Pie has earned an edge over the fast-casual pizza chain competition by holding it down for over three years. Here, you can build a pizza with whatever you want on it (or everything!) for one reasonable price. Don’t feel like making decisions? There’s also a menu of pre-designed pies that are reliably tasty.

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3. Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano 4207 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103

The pizzaiolos behind this North Park parlor were the first to bring traditional, Neapolitan-style pizza to America's Finest City. These pies, made with homemade dough, are baked in a wood-fire domed oven at 900 degrees and can be topped with anything under the Tuscan sun.

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4. 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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5. 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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6. Monello 750 W Fir St, Ste 102 B, Little Italy, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

Pizza makers at this hopping Italian restaurant in Little Italy owned by the same team behind Bencotto put the same dedication into crafting a perfect pizza dough as they do fresh pasta next door. The dough (made with yeast and flour imported from Italy) slowly ferments over several days before it’s stretched, topped, and baked in a brick-lined gas oven. There's also a nifty cocktail menu that includes Italian drinks, signature cocktails, and several Grappa infusions.

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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. 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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9. Stella Public House 1429 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

If a cocktail lounge/coffeehouse had a love child with a wood-fired pizza and craft beer restaurant, this is what you would get. Stella Public House and Halcyon are shacked up together in a 3,000sqft space on Island Ave Downtown, and San Diegans reap the benefits of this twofer establishment. With pizza, booze, beer, and coffee all under one roof, what’s not to love? Hydroponic basil (grown in tomato tins on top of the bar), house-made mozzarella, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, and a crisp, light crust come together in perfect harmony on Stella’s picture-perfect margherita pie (the benchmark of any great Neapolitan-style pizzeria). But those with a taste for adventure will also enjoy some of executive chef Jade Griego’s more inventive creations. A carefully curated draft list stocked with 33 rotating craft beers and a patio overlooking the neighborhood’s newest park are two major bonuses of getting your fix here.

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10. 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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11. Cucina Enoteca 2730 Via de La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014 (Del Mar)

This addition to Urban Kitchen’s ever-growing resto roster is a farmhouse-/equestrian-inspired Italian haven called Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar. It's one elaborate venue, with two impeccably appointed stories (pro tip: anything you see can be a hostess stand). The menu's deep, with fresh house-made pastas, pizzas, and their signature giant meatball smothered in marinara, which's best washed down with one of their Italian beers. When it's warm, hit the airy outdoor patio.

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12. Napizza 1702 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

Health and sustainability have never gone hand in hand with pizza, but turning that truth on its head are the real-life-Italian owners of Napizza. They've gutted and revamped the former Vincenzo Ristorante, turning it into a green-certified home for square pies and slices, which're slow-baked for 30min for a lighter, healthier crust.

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13. 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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14. 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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15. BIGA 950 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

This fast-casual Italian joint in Gaslamp serves up quality Neapolitan Pizzas and authentic Italian fare in a light and airy setting. Fluffy focaccia, sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread, pasta, oven-roasted vegetable small plates, Bird Rock espresso-based drinks and gelato are just some of the amazing menu items offered. If you want something extra indulgent, custom-build a fried pizza. The brief dip in hot oil gives the crust a crisp, flaky texture that you need to experience at least once.

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