Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Bronx Pizza’

Culinary Clash #1: NY Pizza in San Diego

December 13, 2010 1 comment

I discovered New York pizza during a family vacation to “The Big Apple” more than ten years ago.  It was even better than I expected.  Having worked at a Pizza Hut as a teen, I loved the greasy fried texture of pan pizza.  I still really like it, but I’ve definitely been stricken by the thin crust goodness that started back east.  New York pizza is a true work of art, as well as an offspring of culinary science.  Light on ingredients, the dough must be handled properly in order to form the gluten that gives New York pizza its distinctive chew.  Then there’s the high-heat cooking process that makes it wonderfully crisp.  Yes, crispy and chewy.  Kinda like the very best artisanal bread you can find in high end bakeries.  The sauce (if there is sauce) is almost as simple, emphasizing the bright sweetness of fresh tomatoes.  Sometimes the sauce will be nothing more than crushed tomatoes, salt and olive oil.  Others will add a sprinkling (and I mean sprinkling) of basil, oregano, and/or garlic.  But it won’t be the heavily seasoned, watered-down tomato paste mixtures you’ll find in the large national chains.  There’ll be a smack of freshness to the sauce that may be too foreign to the commercialized palate to be enjoyed.  To me, it was an epiphany.  I had to have more.  I had to find someone — anyone — on the west coast who could do it right.

My good Lord showed favor upon me by allowing me to cross paths with a transplanted New Yorker in San Diego.  His accent was undeniable and brash attitude strangely comforting.  If there was true New York goodness to be found anywhere in SoCal, this guy would know.  I asked, and he did know.  I don’t even remember his name.  I wish I had the chance to thank him for pointing me to Bronx Pizza in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego.  I’ve bragged on it before (read my review here).  It immediately became The Fun Family’s favorite pizza place and a definite must-stop whenever we’re in San Diego.  We’ve found some nice spots in L.A., but nothing really close to the authentic greatness of Bronx.

Curious as to what others were saying about Bronx, I sought the reviews of Yelpers, Chowhounds and bloggers.  It didn’t take long to learn that my beloved Bronx had a rival.  More like an arch-enemy if you take on the passion of these pizza joints’ ardent followers.  Turns out a transplanted Italian opened Pizzeria Luigi, and has built up an almost cult-like following.  I’m no homer.  I’ll not blindly follow or ignorantly answer.  I’m a reasonable man.  And a hungry man.  I decided to see for myself.

And, thus, the first in a series of “Culinary Clashes” I’ll be posting.

Pizzeria Luigi's "Donatello".

We wanted to have as even a playing field as possible, so we went with two very similar specialty pies:  Bronx’s Whitestone vs. Luigi’s Donatello.  Both are sauce-less with mozzarella and ricotta.  Whitestone adds grated parmesan and minced garlic, while Luigi adds only grated romano.  Both use high quality cheeses that are very milky and creamy.  Romano is supposed to be much sharper than parmesan, but I didn’t catch that distinction.  The garlic really was the difference.  It was a unanimous decision amongst the six of us judges.  That added punch of flavor just really put it over the top.  The Whitestone is a unique and tasty pizza experience!

I must say that Luigi’s crust edges out Bronx’s.  They’re both close to perfect, Luigi’s just happens to be a little closer.  A tad crispier, with just the right amount of dark brown charring for added flavor.  Their oven must be quite a bit hotter.  Had we never had a Bronx Whitestone, I’m sure the Donatello would’ve been the very best pizza we’ve ever had.  In fairness, it could be that Luigi has another pizza that could beat Bronx.  Maybe something featuring their marinara.  Or possibly that BBQ Chicken Pie I saw in the glass counter.

Hmmm, maybe we should have a rematch.

Pizzeria Luigi on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Eat (X 6)

April 24, 2010 8 comments

 

We had a big ol’ food festival for The Fun Son #1’s birthday with the The Fun Extended Family.  Aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all descended upon “America’s Finest City”, San Diego, for the celebration.  Though we all live fairly close to each other, we don’t get together as much as we would like.  When we do, food is usually central to the fellowship.  This day may have been just a tad over-the-top as we made SIX different food stops! 

STOP #1: Coffee Klatch (San Dimas).  This was where we initially met to form our convoy for the southward trek.  “The Klatch” is one of the most decorated and lauded micro-roasters in the world.  Their coffees and espressos (espressi?) are always impeccably fresh, complimented by high quality cocoa for their mochas.  Everything they offer is head and shoulders above the mass-produced mediocrity of Star-yucks (unless you’re into that acrid, burnt plastic flavor).  If you’re willing to splurge a bit, give their “World’s Best Espresso” blend a try ($16 for a 12 oz bag of beans).  This isn’t a “self-gloss” as this blend actually was named best espresso in the world at the 2007 World Barista Championship.  It is amazingly tasty and complex and even makes for an incredible cup of french pressed coffee.
Coffee Klatch on Urbanspoon 

STOP #2: Famous Dave’s BBQ (Vista).  Our family get-togethers rarely involve visits to big national chains.  BBQ is one of a handful of cuisine choices that’s unanimously enjoyed by the entire Fun Extended Family.  In spite of growing to 177 restaurants in 38 states, Famous Dave’s has found a way to keep quality, down-home BBQ coming out of their Southern Pride Smokers.  Last year, The Fun Foodie was crowned “The Best Famous Fan in America” and won free Famous Dave’s for a year.  It was nice to be able to lavish some of my winnings on the family.  Two All-American BBQ Feasts adorned our table with pork spare ribs, Texas beef brisket, Georgia chopped pork, country roast chicken, fries, slaw, beans, garlic mashed potatoes, potato salad and corn muffins.  Excellent all around! 

That's one beast of a feast!

STOP #3: Point Loma Seafoods (San Diego).  This San Diego institution is easily The Fun Foodie’s top choice for seafood in all of SoCal (read my original review here).  One of the “The Fun Bro-In-Laws” is almost as big a foodie as I am, and we have a great time experimenting.  We went halfers on a couple sandwiches: squid and clam.  I’ve only known squid to be rubbery and bland and have never really been a fan of shell-fish.  But both of these sammies were surprisingly enjoyable.  Served on sourdough with their house-made tartar sauce, both were fried perfectly crisp, but were somehow still wonderfully tender.  Very lightly seasoned because it’s all about freshness at Point Loma Seafoods.  So glad I left my seafood comfort zone for these treats! 

Squid Sandwich ... so good!

Clam Sandwich ... even gooder!

STOP #4: Coronado Cupcakery (Coronado).  I took the bait.  The Fun Wife noticed a sign for a one dollar cup of coffee, which got us into the store.  She was content to leave with her bargain coffee, but I can really be a sucker sometimes.  They had about six or so varieties of cupcakes and they looked great.  So I bought four (chocolate chip, mocha, vanilla and chocolate).  They were very good, moist and not headache-inducing sweet.  But they’re not supplanting Porto’s by any stretch of the imagination.  I wouldn’t make a special trip to Coronado Cupcakery, but will probably return when we’re in the area. 

How could I resist?

Coronad Cupcakery on Urbanspoon 

STOP #5: Tioli’s Crazee Burger (San Diego).  I saw Tioli’s on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and was most intrigued by their “crazee” burger alternatives.  I really wanted to try alligator, kangaroo, and buffalo and talked The Fun Extended Family into experimenting with me.  We caused quite a scene as we moved around tables to accomodate all 19 of us.  Turned out they were out of alligator and kangaroo so we settled on buffalo and ostrich (which is aptly named “Big Bird Burger”).  We ordered fries for the kids (which were your standard freezer shoestrings with parmesan cheese; pretty good but they didn’t live up to all the Yelp hype) while eight adults split two burgers.  Ghetto, I know, but this was just research, not a legitimate meal.  The buffalo burger was awesome!  Juicy and beefy.  In fact, it had a more robust beefiness than beef itself.  Weird.  Speaking of weird, I won’t ever order an ostrich burger again.  It was strangely mushy (kinda like ground turkey) and pretty gamey (almost fishy).  Not pleasant.  But, hey, at least I can say I’ve had ostrich!  I’ll eventually be back for gator and kangaroo, but I’ll be sure to call first.
Tioli's Crazee Burger on Urbanspoon

STOP #6: Bronx Pizza (San Diego).  “The Fun Mother-In-Law” (oxymoron?) grew up in New York and we’ve had the chance to visit the Big Apple and fall in love with New York pizza.  The absolute best “pie” in SoCal is found here in the funky Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego.  The most distinctive characteristic of a New York pizza is its thin, floppy crust that mysteriously combines chewiness and crispness, which Bronx Pizza nails!  They use a simple, yet bright and savory marinara and a creamy and milky mozzarella (I’m guessing it’s made from whole milk).  Our favorite of their specialty pies is the Whitestone, which is mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and garlic (no marinara).  So simple, yet so good.  Worth the wait, worth the New York attitude, and worth the fact that they only take cash.  Bronx Pizza is easily one of my top five places to eat anywhere!

Doesn't look like much, but Bronx's Whitestone is too legit to quit!

Bronx Pizza on Urbanspoon