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San Diego: Killer New York-Style Pies at Bronx Pizza
Another pizza report from Erin Jackson, who has also been covering the San Diego burger scene over at AHT. Want to recommend a San Diego pizza destination to her? Leave a note in the comments below! —The Mgmt.
111 East Washington Street, San Diego CA (map); 619-291-3341; bronxpizza.com
Pizza Style: New York–style
Oven Type: Brick-lined gas oven
The Skinny: Tasty New York–style pizza made by real New Yorkers
Price: Primavera pizza, $18.50; Whitestone pizza, $15 (plus $1.50 for pepperoni)
When it comes to New York-style pizza, the one place you'll hear San Diegans consistently rave about is Bronx Pizza, though outsiders and locals alike often add the irksome "good for San Diego" qualifier to the end of any positive remark about it. But I'm going to be bold: Bronx Pizza has some of the best pizza I've ever had—anywhere.
Slice'r Pizzasnob sampled a few slices at Bronx Pizza in November, but this Hillcrest hot spot deserves a deeper look. Bronx Pizza is owned by Matt Gardner, a native New Yorker who strives to bring an authentic taste of home to San Diego. Bronx Pizza is the real thing: the intermingling scents of garlic and cheese waft down the street for blocks, expert pizzamakers toss rounds of dough with a casual coolness that is the result of years of practice, and Marsal & Sons brick-lined ovens, from Long Island, New York, are constantly churning out fresh pies.
You have two options for pizza here: either choose one of the many varieties of pizza by the slice ($2.00-$2.50) or order a full-size pie (18 inches with 8 slices). I went the full pie route and ordered a Primavera and a Whitestone with pepperoni.
The Primavera pizza was topped with lots of fresh vegetables, including thinly sliced pepper, mushrooms and broccoli, shredded spinach, and a touch of garlic. This is a harmonious, many-textured pie that's full of bold flavors. This pizza was definitive proof that an all-veggie pizza can be just as flavorful as one topped with meat.
Both pies had the trademark NY-style crust: thin, golden-brown, and simultaneously crisp and chewy. Eating a slice required supporting the crust from the bottom, or folding it in half, which was a good way to ensure the toppings stay in place, particularly on the veggie pie, which was loaded with toppings.
As good as the Primavera pie was, eating the Whitestone pie was a transformative experience. Two bites in, I could hardly contain myself from dancing in my chair and spouting casual-swearing filled exclamations of excitement. I initially thought that a pizza topped with only mozzarella, ricotta, garlic and parmesan might be a bit bland, but I was wrong. Even without the addition of the thin slices of savory pepperoni, this pie was a knockout. The star ingredient was the ricotta cheese, which was mixed with freshly cut Italian parsley. The creamy, fluffy ricotta brought a palate-pleasing texture to the pie, and a sweet, rich flavor.
The Whitestone pie was a textbook example of how a cheese slice, when made correctly, needs no additional ingredients to enhance its flavor. The best thing about the Whitestone pie is that because the base is so delicious and complex, it's not overpowered by strong ingredients, so you can enjoy it as-is, or layer on the toppings without the flavor of the ricotta being lost.
San Diego may be almost 3,000 miles from the New York City, but it's good to know that you can get a slice that could fight in the same weight class as one from New York. It's not just good pizza by San Diego standards, it's great pizza, period.