Restaurant Review

Emy Takada

Ask New Yorkers where is the best pizza in town. The majority will say at Bronx Pizza.

This small pizza place in the heart of Hillcrest has the most popular New York style pizza in town. Giant thin crust pizzas are displayed in a counter in the main room. The pizza is crispy and the dough is very well made. If you want to tell if a pizza is really good or not, you have to first taste it plain, just with the tomato sauce and cheese. At Bronx, the mozzarella pizza is delicious. The dough is tasty by itself, and the fresh tomato sauce is a must. The sauce is a 30-year-old recipe of the Calabrian pizza expert Nicky Cotrona, who recently died according to Bronx’s Web page.

Pizzas there have all kind of topping–from the basic mozzarella and America’s favorite pepperoni to the delicious marinated artichoke–and they are all served by the slice, or the whole pizza if you can eat it. They also have broccoli and eggplant pizzas that are worth trying. But the must have try is the pesto topping. I, personally, am a big fan of pasta with pesto sauce. I had never seen pesto over pizza but, when I tried, it definitely became my favorite topping at Bronx. Pesto sauce is basically made by basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano for the real one). The sauce is spread over the plain dough, and it just tastes incredible, if you are an Italian food fan.

Pictures of famous boxers hang on the walls along with uncountable prizes they have won in the past years. The place, always crowded, was opened by Matt Gardner, a New Yorker who moved to San Diego. When Gardner arrived, he couldn’t find a decent pizza so he decided to open his own place and make pizza taste like it does on the East Coast. With the help of Cotrona, he created the pizza like home.

Last time I went there, I ordered some slices of pizza and Smitty, one of the owners, asked if I wanted to leave the bill open. I left it open, and enjoyed my pieces of heaven. When I was done, Smitty was gone so I asked Louis, the pizza man in charge, how much I owed. He looked at Paul, the other pizza guy, and they nodded to each other.

“If the owner didn’t charge you, I’m not charging either,” said Louis.

I thought that was so cool. They are just like Italian–they like to have fun. Their sense of humor just makes the pizza experience at Bronx even more enjoyable.

When I was almost convinced that there would not be any other place to beat Bronx up, Scot DePedro seduced me with his pizza talk.

“Bronx Pizza is great but if you’re looking for the best New York style pizza, you gotta try this place at Seaport Village,” he said. “I grew up in New York City and Asaggio has the closest to New York’s pizza I could find in San Diego.”

He gets so excited, he keeps talking.

“You recognize the best New York style pizza by its grease,” DePedro said. “When I eat Asaggio’s pizza, I grab it, fold it in half and watch that beautiful grease falling over my pants.”

I went to check this place out and found their pizza amazing. Customer Jeffrey Pierce said the pizza was so tasty that he decided to grab one more slic–they sell them by slice or the whole pizz–but was in shock to see so many people lined up all of a sudden. Pierce said it was worth every minute of wait, though, because the taste was unbelievable. Asaggio pizza’s dough is very crispy, the tomato sauce is rich and tasty, and they must use great quality mozzarella because, even though they put a lot of it, it does not feel like too much.

Not to forget the view. Asaggio is located in the heart of Seaport Village, right by the bay. In front of the restaurant with walls covered with Chicago Bulls pictures, a deck with tables sits customers who can enjoy a beautiful day outdoors. Asaggio is owned by former Chicago radio and television personality Jerry Ghan who moved to sunny San Diego and brought his East Coast pizza recipes along. His family has owned the restaurant for 25 years.

I cannot tell which one has the best New York style pizza because I am more like a Neapolitan style pizza expert. But, if I had to choose, I would just alternate Bronx and Asaggio on and on.

Bronx Pizza
111 Washington St., San Diego, CA
Phone: (619) 291-3341
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to midnight.

Seaport Village
879 West Harbor Dr. Suite C, San Diego, CA
Phone: (619) 234-2407
Hours: Monday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.