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San Diego: Great Sicilian Pies at Sicilian Thing

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[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

Sicilian Thing

4046 30th Street, San Diego CA 92104 (map); 619-282-3000; sicilianthingpizza.com
Pizza Style: New York-style and Sicilian
Oven Type: Gas
Price: 16" pizzas start at $14.25 (+$1.50 for each topping)

The lack of respect that San Diego gets for its pizza scene has always irked me. It's easy to make the mistake of dismissing the city as a great destination for pizza after sampling hit-and-miss offerings in touristy areas, but wander a few blocks afield in San Diego and you'll be rewarded. One prime example is Sicilian Thing, easily one of the top three pizzerias in the San Diego area.

Owner Paul Wanushek has more than 30 years of pizza-making experience, including being the first pizza-maker at the famed Bronx Pizza, where he worked for ten years before opening his own shop in 2007. Sicilian Thing specializes in Sicilian and New York–style pizzas, either by the slice or the whole pie. The shop delivers, but dining in has its privileges: Beer is cheap, there's always a few slices of cheesecake from The Incredible Cheesecake Company, and you can use the "special fork" to eat your pizza (more on that later).

Sicilian Thing's Meatda pie is a marvel. Despite being loaded with pepperoni, meatball, and mild Italian sausage, it manages to not be overly greasy or salty. All of the meats are on the mild side, in terms of seasoning, which allows them to coexist in harmony. The tastiest of the three is the meatball, which is made from a blend of pork, beef, and herbs. Instead of the traditional ball shape, the meat is scattered over the pie, evenly distributing the flavor in nearly every bite.

The sauce has a pure, clean, tomato flavor. It's applied sparingly on the pie, but the ratio of crust, sauce, and toppings seems right. The sauce is made from ground uncooked tomatoes—some peeled, others with the skin on.

Sicilian Thing's crust wasn't the tallest I've ever seen, but it was quite light and fluffy, with golden brown bottom. The best slices were the corner pieces, which had the added benefit of two crisp edges that crackle when you chew them. If you drop in for a slice, be sure to lay claim to a corner piece.

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Sicilian pizza is something I need cutlery to enjoy, and when I asked for a fork and knife, I was presented with this ingenious invention: the "special fork".

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The other pie I tried, a New York-style pizza (half Barack-Oli-Ricotta, half Tomato and Garlic), was a great way to sample two signature white pies at once. The Barack-Oli-Ricotta—a pizza named for the President—was loaded with gobs of fluffy ricotta, creamy mozzarella, thinly sliced broccoli, and just enough olive oil to give it character. The double layer of cheese made it quite filling.

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On the tomato side of the pizza, the crust was crisp on the bottom, yielding to a soft and chewy center, while the Barack side, which was more weighed down with toppings, lacked some crispness.

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The Barack-Oli-Ricotta was a tough act to follow, and the tomato garlic side couldn't quite keep up. The pungent garlic overwhelmed the paper-thin slices of tomato, which would have added a much-needed counterbalance of sweetness had they been cut thicker. Despite being a little weak on tomato flavor, the slice was no slouch; it just couldn't compete with the other half of the pie.

Sicilian Thing makes a decent (if decadent) New York-style pizza, but if I had to choose one style to order, the Sicilian is the way to go.

About the author: Erin Jackson is a freelance food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best cheap and tasty eats in San Diego. She always saves room for dessert.

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