Top 10 Slices of the Best Pizza in San Diego
There’s no other way to slice it. San Diego has long since arrived as an excellent pizza town. Thanks to the transplants here from all over the country, even the world, you’ll find a variety of styles in the city to suit any palate.
From thin crust to wood-fired, pan-style to square cut, it’s all represented here in San Diego. The only way to find your favorite, though, is to start eating your way through the list of best pizza in San Diego. Challenge accepted.
Buona Forchetta and its offshoots have slowly become a delicious empire in San Diego. You’ll find Buona Forchetta locations in Liberty Station, Coronado and Encinitas, but the most charming among them may be in South Park.
You’re likely to find yourself with a wait no matter when you’re at the South Park outpost, but it’s well worth it. They have a delectable menu full of freshly-made pastas and authentic Italian antipasti.
It’s their Neapolitan-style pizzas that have it topping the list of best pizza in San Diego, though. Choose one of their own creations for the full experience. The Sofia is a local favorite, topped with mozzarella, prosciutto, artichokes and mushrooms.
For something a bit more casual, head to nearby Gelati & Peccati, the latest addition to the Buona Forchetta family in North Park. It’s styled after walk-up shops popular throughout Italy, the kind where you’re able to drool over slices of crispy pizza warming in pans at the window.
Leave room for gelato if you head over to this one. Their scoops of creamy Italian gelato are almost as well-known in the neighborhood as the pizza slices. Almost.
Isola Pizza Bar
There’s no shortage of wonderful Italian food in San Diego’s Little Italy. If you’re seeking an eatery where the pizza is the star, though, head to Isola Pizza Bar. Their Neapolitan-style pizzas are small enough to polish off on your own, and topped with the freshest ingredients. Think oven-roasted beets, creamy burrata and spicy salami to start.
This place comes with an authentic pedigree, too. Chef Massimo Tenino is Italian-born, and likely quite proud that he’s serving up some of the best pizza in Little Italy, San Diego. There’s an additional location in La Jolla if you find yourself there, instead.
Blind Lady Ale House
Blind Lady Ale House is a well-known gathering spot in Normal Heights for a pizza variety that is unique to the region: Southern California-style.
The ingredients they use are locally-sourced, so they’ll always have a special pie or two on their board. There are a few standbys you shouldn’t miss, though, including the egg and bacon. A runny egg tops a pizza covered in caramelized onions and house bacon. All of that is then drizzled in truffle oil.
What makes the experience even better is a frequent companion to pizza in San Diego: craft beer. The beer here is brewed in-house, and changes seasonally. Come taste why Will Ferrell pays this place a visit whenever he’s in town.
New York-style pizza fans rejoice. San Diego has an authentic pizza shop for you at Bronx Pizza in Hillcrest. Choose from one of their 18 available slices at any given time, or build your own with a list of toppings that are fairly traditional and what you’d expect from a corner pizza shop.
The experience here is very much no-frills. They’re cash-only, serving up pizza mostly by the slice. If you’re looking for a whole pie—you can get one size, an 18-inch—calling ahead is the way to go so that they can make sure you get all of the toppings you want. That won’t include pineapple, though. Don’t even ask about it.
Once you’ve navigated the ordering process, it’s time to chow down on a New York pizza experience that’s as authentic as it can get without flying out to the Big Apple. The crew who work this pizza shop are all from the East Coast, and most of the workers hail from New York City itself.
Tribute Pizza in North Park has a little bit of a gimmick going on. The pizzas here are inspired by, in fact a tribute to, pizzas from around the world that the owners have been impressed by in their travels.
That said, that doesn't make this wood-fired pizza shop less impressive. It’s a great homage to different styles of pizza, from classics like margherita and plain cheese—their version is called the Kevin McAllister, in honor of Home Alone—to white styles with ricotta and garlicky sauces.
The location comes with a side of historical significance, too. Tribute Pizza operates out of an old post office, and they’ve kept some of the old facade. Delicious pizza is definitely an upgrade over snail mail, easily making this one of the best San Diego pizza restaurants.
Regents Pizzeria is here to share their thoughts on the everlasting battle between Chicago and New York-style pizza, and which pizza style is the best between the two. Their answer may surprise you, though: Why not both?
If you just can’t decide, you can order both at Regents, considered by many to be the best pizza in La Jolla. They have the thin, foldable New York-style slices and deep dish Chicago-style pies with that glorious cheese pull, best consumed with a knife and fork.
Grab it by the slice or order a whole pie, with the understanding that the art of deep dish requires a decent wait. Veggie lovers will want to try the Popeye, their best deep dish option. It’s their house mozzarella and marinara blend with spinach, artichoke hearts and ricotta, topped with a generous helping of parmesan cheese.
Regents also has an extensive draft list if you’re feeling indulgent and want a pint of beer along with your slices.
Ambrogio15 has won all kinds of accolades for best pizza in San Diego. Luckily, they have several locations for you to choose from in and around the city. Head to Del Mar, Pacific Beach or the Little Italy Food Hall for your fix of Milanese-style pizza, brought to San Diego by three Milan-born pizza makers.
The pies here are thin, an airy crust topped with Italian ham, smoky mozzarella or spicy salami, to name a few of their best ingredients. Their simple yet satisfying margherita is one of their most popular options. It’s all in the fresh ingredients here, something you can tell once you smell the basil wafting off the classic pie.
The wine list here is impressive, too. Most of the varieties you’ll find here are imported from small but dynamic wineries in Italy, chosen by the owners to compliment their pizzas.
Mr. Moto Pizza
Mr. Moto Pizza is a San Diego pizza chain that only continues to grow, with two locations planned for Arizona cities as they expand their presence. That doesn’t mean the quality doesn’t hold up. It just means more San Diegans and beyond are now able to access Mr. Moto’s delicious pizzas with less effort.
All of the specialty pies come in their large size, 18 inches of thin, foldable slices that will make for delicious leftovers. Try their Mamma Mia, a specialty option topped with spinach, pepperoni, bacon and gorgonzola cheese, their unique specialty pizzas of the month, or make your own. Build-your-own pies are available in their medium size.
If you want to hit the original location, head to Pacific Beach. That’s where Mr. Moto’s authentic New York-style pizza dreams started. Otherwise, find Mr. Moto offshoots in North Park, Point Loma, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, Seaport Village, Encinitas and Little Italy, with another planned for Mission Valley in the works.
The Besta-Wan Pizza House
The menu at this quirky eatery in Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a little eclectic, just like the decor. You’ll find pasta, which isn’t strange for a pizza place, but also Mexican food. Add burgers and wings on top of that for a well-rounded feast.
The best of the diverse offerings at Besta-Wan is still the pizza. The pizzas here are piled-high with the toppings of your choosing, from all the meats to the pineapple you may not find elsewhere. A local favorite is the Savannah White, a garlic sauce pizza with artichokes, white onions and fresh tomatoes, topped with dollops of ricotta cheese.
If you’re coming up from San Diego, it’s well worth the drive. You could say it’s the best one in these parts.
While the city isn’t as well-known for their pizza as things like fish tacos and California burritos, San Diego shouldn’t be underestimated for its variety of delicious pizza styles. Access to the freshest ingredients on the West Coast certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
Whether you’re ordering takeout for that perfect night in or dining out to enjoy a few slices straight out of the oven, San Diego pizza is never a bad idea.Written by Agnes Groonwald for Knockaround.