Originally founded in 1967, Paesano Italian Food puts diners at ease with a welcoming ambience that Emma Goldman of the San Diego Reader said had her “charmed before we’d taken a bite.” This rustic allure also characterizes the restaurant’s menu, which includes hearty servings of italian sausage and sautéed peppers with the kitchen’s house-made marinara, alfredo, or pesto sauces. Before baking a pizza, the chefs layer whole-milk mozzarella onto the freshly kneaded dough, and they set aside time to hand-roll each meatball into perfect replicas of Jupiter’s roundest moon.
The bottle service and decadent cuisine attract their own legions of fans, but U-31 Bar is perhaps best known for its dance floor. That's where DJs and bands catalyze all-night parties practically every single night of the week. From Rad Karaoke Tuesdays, to live sets from the likes of The Disco Villains and Audrey Napoleon, U-31's agenda book is almost always full. This affords party lovers ample opportunities to meet, mingle, show off their new club duds, and acclimate the horses they ride everywhere to the presence of strobe lights. While nocturnal revelry is U-31's specialty, many visit for the grub, such as burgers, steak fajita nachos, and deep-fried pizza. Yes, deep-fried pizza?the slice, already topped with bacon and extra-sharp Monterey, is battered and fried to order.
Guests have to blink a few times upon first entering the Alexander's on 30th dining room—a dazzling wash of pristine white walls, white Carrara-marble counters, and white linen tablecloths. Moonlight pours in through lofty windows, causing the wine glasses and silverware to shimmer with images from Casablanca. Little candles speckle the tabletops, casting a glow on plates of colorful bruschetta, fine pasta dishes, and Italian specialties. A variety of artisanal pizzas perch atop silver pedestals—including the White Room pizza, a flavorful combination of garlic, chicken, and pesto that the San Diego Union Tribune named 1 of the top 50 things to eat in San Diego before you die. Outside, on the back patio, diners linger over last bites of cookie sundaes beneath trees adorned with strings of light.
Mirroring the abundance of attractions sitting atop the boardwalk, the pizza masters at A Brooklyn Pizzeria pile a New York–style thin crust with pepperoni, meatballs, sausage, and veggies on their Coney Island Deluxe pizza. It's one of the pizzeria's 18 specialty pies, whose fixings range from pineapple and Canadian bacon to ricotta cheese and artichoke hearts, all of which undergo baking in a brick oven. To complement the pies, the menu ties in other Italian favorites such as baked ziti and housemade cannoli, as well as oven-toasted sandwiches and subs.
In 1939, Sam LoMedico moved from Italy to the United States with a little suitcase and big dreams. He learned the ropes at several restaurants before taking the leap and opening his own venture, Venice Pizza House, in 1954. More than 60 years later, his family continues to cook the same heralded recipes from scratch. They bake fresh pizza dough everyday and top them with homemade sausage, white onions, and artichoke hearts. Chefs roll crepes into manicotti and stuff the tubulars with four types of cheese. The chicken parmesan?s cutlet is encrusted with a special blend of bread crumbs and its marinara sauce simmers in a pot to a thick finish. And just like any well-respected Italian eatery or dentist?s office, the eatery offers hero sandwiches stuffed with Mortadella and provolone cheese.
When Khaled Waleh, a former visual arts student, opened Zia Gourmet Pizza on Adams Avenue in 2008, he tapped into pizza dough as a round canvas, splashing it with nontraditional ingredients like the yogurt combined with garlic, mint and herbs sauce, bean curd, walnuts, scallions and roasted eggplant. The vegetarian menu takes on a gourmet attitude with feta, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and mozzarella. Akin to a dessert, the cinnamon pear pie layers caramelized pears, walnuts, light cream cheese, sesame seeds and mascarpone cheese onto a white crust. Vegans are also appeased with the vegan spinach garnished with rosemary potatoes and topped with cranberries. This edible artwork is served by the slice, pie or as a calzone. From 5 p.m. to10 p.m., the open kitchen eatery, with its craft beer cooler, brings to Normal Heights the cool vibe and artistic culture that’s typically related to University Heights and Hillcrest.