Barely a wave's crash from the water, Del Mar Pizza has hosted hungry beach-goers—some sans shirt or shoes—at its tables for more than 20 years. Amid walls lined with long surfboards and artful beach photography, chefs whip up gooey specialty pizzas by the pie or slice, with traditional or New York–style thin crusts. After downing a brew on the outdoor patio, patrons can head inside to two-hand a Boar's Head deli sandwich or clamber up overhead lights to hang ten on wall-mounted surfboards.
Sam's Pizza tends to pizza hankerings by giving its gourmet pies top billing on a menu already crowded with star Italian eats. Pizza backstories begin with chefs kneading house-made dough, which they then punch, lob, and give pep talks to before baking it in an oven. The process results in creations such as the BBQ chicken pizza, which mixes five toppers, including chicken, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms ($19.99 for 16"). Diners escape the tyranny of tomato with white pizzas that lay out a medley of three cheeses and garlic ($9.99 for 10"). Diners await their pizzas while sipping beers such as Bud Light ($3.99) or calculating the exact number of krill in the ocean from the pizzeria's outdoor seating area, which is replete with views of the water.
A proper Pizzicato pizza rests on a foundation of authentic crust oiled in olivy and garlicky synchronicity and fused with whole-milk mozzoparm and fresh herbs. Concoctions range from classic New Yawk Cheese ($11.25 for 12 inches) to the contemporary fusion of a Thai Pizza composed of teriyaki chicken, green onions, sweet peppers, mozzarella, carrots, and crushed chili peppers showered in a spicy peanut sauce ($22.25 for 16 inches). Carryout customers can choose between a fresh, ready-to-eat pizza or a fresh, ready-to-cook-at-home, partially baked pizza. A 12-inch creation serves a party of two to three and a 16-inch serves a party of four to five, whereas parties of exactly five may be subject to auditions for an obsolete TV drama series. Geometrically undefined items served on suspiciously circular dinnerware include refreshing salads such as arugula and ripe pear tossed with sweetened walnuts and gorgonzola in a balsamic vinaigrette ($5.25 for small, serves one to two) and the superhuman simplicity of a Tuscan Meatball Hero Panini layered in meatballs, marinara, and mozzarella ($7.00). Check out the full menu for San Diego here and Encinitas here.
Extreme Pizza’s pies are just about as creatively named as they are creatively designed. The Mr. Pestato Head pie, for example, combines homemade pesto sauce, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, and feta cheese. The mold-breaking creations, available at the pizza shop's numerous nationwide locations, all start with the same foundation: a freshly baked crust, available in classic and whole-wheat varieties. Extreme Pizza also sates appetites with chicken wings, subs, salads, and calzones—also known as full-size pizza dumplings.
Baking up a fresh, Californian spin on traditional New York-style thin-crust pizza, the chefs at Pizza Pronto craft gourmet pies using premium ingredients, a blend of Italian cheeses, and homemade sauces. They adorn their creations with all-natural toppings, including grilled eggplant, basil, and spicy gyro meat carved onsite. In fact, Pizza Pronto's fresh ingredients and crusts earned the eatery a 2012 Golden Grub Award and a spot on the Union Tribune's Best Pizza of 2012 finalist list.
As pizzas adopt golden hues inside ovens, chefs whip up hearty pastas, sandwiches, and marinated kebabs. They also forge robust salads that can complement any meal with crisp lettuce, veggies, and grilled meats.