By Dr. Ink
I was in the mood for beer and pizza but ended up with wine and breadsticks.
Rarely can one escape the intoxicating aromas of cheese, tomato sauce and freshly spun dough emitting from Pizzicato’s ovens during business hours.
The scent instantly triggered my appetite from a block away, causing me to charge faster toward the place through carpets of fallen, purple leaves from jacaranda trees along the sidewalk.
Pizzicato reportedly began as a “hole in the wall” in Portland, Oregon some 25 years ago. It has since flourished into a franchise that is confined mainly to that state.
Known for using hand-tossed dough, whole-milk cheeses and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, the company rolled into San Diego more than a decade ago and does a brisk business. It opened first in Encinitas, and then in Bankers Hill on the ground level of the Laurel Bay housing development.
I ate here several years ago and recall digging the pizza. Craft beers were on the rise at the time and I figured by now they’d be available. Indeed, there are six taps that include Stone IPA, Blazing World by Modern Times, Orange Wit by Coronado Brewing Company and a couple others I like.
Along with wines by the glass, they’re $1 off during happy hour.
But everything changed when I approached the order counter. For starters, there are no deals on pizzas, whole or by the slice. The only food bargains are on appetizers; they’re half-price and include hummus, caprese salad and artichoke-spinach dip. Those didn’t grab me, so I settled for closest thing to pizza — mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks made with the house pizza dough and served with thick, zesty marinara sauce. Not bad.
Then, a vino from Pizzicato’s small selection caught my eye, a Chilean cabernet by Root 1 Winery that I fell in love with on a recent dinner outing.
Full-bodied with abundant notes of cherries and plums, it strikes an exceptional match to melted cheeses and robust sauces, thus breathing life into my high-caloric plate of breadsticks. Here, I paid only $6 for a generous pour in a stem-less globe glass. When out on the town for dinner a few weeks ago I paid $13 a glass, per that restaurant’s expected mark up.
So I came away with a plan for my next visit to Pizzicato of which I’ll succumb to paying regular price for pizza while taking lawless advantage of the cabernet — or perhaps the house sangiovese, which costs even less.
The drink list is succinct, featuring eight craft beers and six wines that included a well-structured Chilean cabernet.
The quality is fine, but the limited choices are generally uninteresting: hummus, artichoke-spinach dip, cheese-filled breadsticks and caprese salad. I vote for pizza slices to be added to that list.
Appetizers are half-off during happy hour, although you save only $1 on drafts and wine.
The friendly employee at the front counter was adept at multi-tasking, taking food and drink orders and serving them while keeping the dining room very tidy.
Pumpkin and avocado wall colors add style to a clean, minimalist design marked by large front windows, polished concrete floors and blonde-wood booths.
Sara is the editor of San Diego Uptown News.