Cucina Urbana's grilled asparagus bianco ($14.50) isn't your ordinary white pie. Instead of the sweet, buttery mounds of ricotta I'm used to, it's topped with a more aggressive duo of dairy: fontina and Parmesan cheese. Each subsequent topping ups the savory factor, starting with olive oil slicked spears of grilled asparagus, and ending with spicy red chili flakes and crisp garlic chips.
The thin crust develops some nice charring during the few minutes it spends in the oven (which is kept at a blistering 600-620 degrees). The crust gets good and crisp, while leopard spots and blackened bits form on the bottom. Initially, Cucina Urbana imported their starter from Italy, but after it died prematurely, they started making their own, and say it only improves with time. I have to agree: the crust is complex and tasty with tangy, salty flavors.
Though the asparagus is the ingredient that gets top billing, the garlic stands out the most. The preparation gives it a roasty, savory bend, without any sweetness. One tip, though: make sure you're hungry enough to finish the entire pie (or arrange to share it)... none of the toppings stand up to a next-day nuking.
You can also get the grilled asparagus bianco at Cucina Enoteca, the Orange County outpost in the Irvine Spectrum Center.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax