By Dr. Ink
Since its humble beginnings in San Diego 27 years ago, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill has spawned multiple locations, allowing customers to nosh on internationally inspired dishes while partaking in numerous wines, select craft beers and soju cocktails. Gone are the days when only pizza and domestic brews like Budweiser dominated the menu.
Daily happy hour is available at all outlets including the one in Mission Valley, which conveniently resides a stone’s throw from the trolley station in Park Valley Center plaza.
The price breaks are better than other popular chains. For less than $10, for example, you can wash down a pair of duck tacos with a glass of St. Archer Blonde Ale, or dally over an order of baba ghanoush and a glass of full-bodied cabernet sauvignon from Washington state.
The wood-fired pizzas at Sammy’s have long held special appeal because they were the first I found after moving here from New York state in the late ’80s that sported a reasonably crispy crust with yeasty flavor. I’ve succumbed to the competition over the years, but still occasionally poke in for a nostalgic meal.
On a recent warm autumn day, I chose a seat on the roomy semi-open patio, which features white vinyl booths, live succulents perched on a few walls, and big glass jars filled decoratively with colorful vegetables. Compared to the expansive, fairly busy dining room inside, the vibe was quieter and visually more appealing with its faux terracotta pillars serving as podiums for crawling vines.
A “cucumber cooler” with a lemonade base summoned me. It was only $5 with the discount, and it featured a decent measure of soju, fresh basil and a few fat slices of cucumber. Like a summer garden in a glass, I paired it with the spicy Italian sausage flatbread, which was also $5. Compared to the signature pizzas, it offered a fainter crunch and airier texture.
The spice factor of the sausage was mild and the tomato sauce beneath it was scant. But with a fair measure of Mozzarella cheese stretching over eight small squares, it constituted as a light meal.
My waiter was new and under-trained. He originally brought me an order of hummus and pita bread, insisting at first it was the sausage flatbread when I pointed out otherwise. And when the bill came, he had charged full price ($7) for the cocktail, saying it was $9 until I showed him the correct listing on menu. He was gracious in rectifying both errors, and I came away sated with barely a dent in my conservative happy-hour budget.