Caffe Calabria

>> Sunday, January 8, 2012

Date of Dining: 12/9/2012
Price: $5-15 per appetizer, $10-15 per pizza
Location: 3933 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

The Quick Bit:
+ Tomato sauce on pizzas nicely seasoned
+ High quality toppings on pizza
+ Large selection of premium coffee to go with pizza
Δ Non-pizza items could have been more inspired
Δ Pizza is only for dinner Wed-Sun
Δ Seating was uncomfortable

Located in the food corridor in North Park, I ventured to Caffe Calabria to try the pizza that I heard was better than Bruno
Caffe Calabria is actually primarily a coffee shop first, a tea shop second, and then a pizza parlor third. Caffe Calabria offers a wide selection of coffee roasted on the premises as well as high quality teas for purchase. In fact, many other restaurants in the area source their tea and coffee from Calabria.
At Calabria, the pizzas are made in an authentic Neopolitan brick oven. In fact, it looks exactly like the brick oven at Bruno. While I'm unsure of the pizzaiolo is VPN certified, I would venture to guess that he is not since it would have been advertised otherwise.

prosciutto e burrata - prosciutto di parma, burrata, olive oil, flatbread
I like to think that when I got to an Italian place, I'm a man of simple needs; place some high quality sliced meats some bread and olive oil in front of me, and I'm very happy and have an overall positive impression. I tried to satisfy these simple needs through this appetizer.
As I was enjoying the creaminess of the burrata contrasted against the cured saltiness of the La Querceria proscuitto and the hint of extra rosemary, I really wanted to close my eyes and go to the happy place of being satisfied. Unfortunately, this dish didn't transport me to that place.

cotto e funghi - organic san marzano tomato, prosciutto cotto, mushroom, fior di latte, grana
This pizza was ordered as we had a mushroom lover at the table. Unfortunately, this pizza was the least favorite pizza of the night. While the high quality San Marzano tomato sauce was immediately noticeable and highly enjoyable, this pizza was decidedly one-note in the earthiness. It was still an excellent pizza, but it just seemed to fall a little flat on its own.
salsiccia - organic san marzano tomato, house-made fennel sausage, fior de latte, grana
This pizza was my favorite pizza of the night. The fennel from the sausage really permeated throughout the pizza to add the extra dimension of flavor. The sharpness of the fennel was complemented by the sweetness from the tomato sauce to form an extremely enjoyable bite.
quattro stagioni - "four seasons" - organic san marzano tomato, prosciutto cotto, fior di latte,
mushroom, artichoke, black olive, grana
When we ordered this pizza, we imagined that the pizza would contain a mix of all the elements throughout the pizza. We were a little surprised when the pizza arrived and was separated into quadrants containing the four main "flavors." While this pizza had build in variety based on the quadrants of the pizza, some parts of it were still decidedly one-note like the mushroom portion. However, due to the built-in variety it was a better overall experience than the purely one-note pizza.

I wanted to enjoy my experience at Caffe Calabria. The food, while not getting to the level of Bruno was still very good. However, some combination of the uncomfortable seating, extremely dark lighting, and "almost there" food left me wanting more.
While the tomato sauce is unequivocally the best sauce I've had in San Diego, the crust wasn't as good as Bruno's and the toppings were a tie at best. As more of a crust person, I have to say that Bruno retains the best neopolitan pizza designation for me.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
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