Distinguished by its warm, industrial design and vine-enclosed patio, Pizza e Birra is a friendly environment where adults and families gather over artisan hand-tossed pizzas, hearty sandwiches, chicken wings, and reliably delicious pasta dishes.
As “e Birra” in the name suggests, which translates to “and beer,” there are a dozen brews to choose from. Most of them fall into the craft category and offer something for everyone’s tastes — IPAs, stouts, pale ales and more. The tap system also features pear cider.
Pizza e Birra occupies the ground floor of a residential loft building called The Charmer, located at 3625 India St. It was built in 2011 by acclaimed urban-housing architect Jonathan Segal. And indeed, there is a high element of charm that flows throughout the restaurant. Big glass windows and an open-floor layout make for an artistically modern feel that is warmed by vivid splashes of color, gallery-style lighting and linen napkins. Alongside the dining room is an inviting patio enclosed by copious greenery. It’s one of the appealing amenities you don’t notice when driving by.
Equally welcoming are Sam and Sarah Mattia, the husband-wife team who own the restaurant and enjoy meeting and greeting their customers. They took over in 2017 from a previous owner and kept all of the tried-and-true recipes that have earned public acclaim. One of those dishes includes the red-sauce Boscaiola pizza crowned with mozzarella, mushrooms, Italian sausage, ham, spinach, basil and a drizzle of truffle oil. It’s impossible to eat only one slice.
The sandwiches are big hits as well. They’re made with irresistible house-baked bread and include the sensational “Speciale,” a vegetarian option that captures grilled eggplant, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, roasted red peppers and caramelized onions.
On the much heartier side is the “Notorious P.I.G.” The protein-packed sandwich features a stacking of mozzarella, sopressata, pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage and bacon. The meats are tied deliciously together by arugula, tomatoes, caramelized onions and spicy mayo.
The twice-fried chicken wings attract repeat business as well. Sold in quantities of six or 12, they’re meatier and crispier than most, and available in a choice of four sauces or two dry rubs.
Sam and Sarah have also added their own successful items to the bill of fare.
From the appetizer section, for example, customers can savor goat cheese that is hand-sliced, dusted in panko crumbs, and then gently fried to order. “The dish immediately took off when we put it on the menu,” Sarah recalled.
From the pasta lineup, there is the hot-selling chicken-tequila fettuccine, a recipe that originates from when Sam worked at Mazara Trattoria in South Park, which his brother owns. The fettuccine is elevated by roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, red onions, jalapenos and cilantro. A touch of tequila goes into the mix of Alfredo and red sauces — just enough to add an alluring tang. Though moderately spicy, customers can request the dish be made milder or hotter.
The couple also overhauled the wine list since taking over. The selection originates largely from California vineyards. Their prices are very affordable, ranging generally from $6.50 to $8.50 per glass, or $25 to $30 by the bottle.
In one of the more unique kid-friendly perks you’ll find in San Diego, the restaurant allows children to construct their own pizzas tableside. Servers bring them the dough, sauce, cheese and other toppings to work with. Then the kitchen staff bakes the pizzas and the finished products are returned to the table.
While kids test out their culinary skills, adults can enjoy price breaks on beer pints, select appetizers and small pizzas at certain times throughout the week during happy hour. It is held from open to close on Sundays; 3 to 6:19 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesdays (the end time is a play on the restaurant’s area code); and 3 p.m. to close on Thursdays, which coincides with 7 p.m. trivia night.
With hospitable owners, an appealing atmosphere, and a plethora of classic and modern Italian dishes, Pizza e Birra is an affordable place to eat, drink and socialize.
For more information, call 619-550-5796 or visit pizzaebirrasandiego.com.
Also, check the restaurant’s social media pages for raffles and special promotions.
Facebook: Pizza e Birra San Diego.