It’s all about thin-crusts at Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria in La Jolla

By Kelley Carlson
Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria has made its way down the West Coast, with La Jolla as its first location in Southern California. Customers will find the thin, crispy pizza that is popular in cities like New York, along with pastas, salads and more.

Rafael Francisco, kitchen manager, tosses dough for a pizza.

Open since the beginning of May, Amici’s La Jolla site is No. 13 for the 25-year-old chain, which is headquartered in San Mateo. And although the restaurant is based in the Bay Area, the owners bring authenticity with their East Coast roots: Peter Cooperstein’s hometown is Boston, while Mike Forter formerly called upstate New York home. They met in San Francisco and became business partners, with a goal of introducing the style of pie they loved to a different demographic.

After opening a dozen Amici’s locations within a 70-mile radius of one another, the opportunity arose to establish one in La Jolla. “This is the kind of community where we’ve been most successful,” said Richard Allum, director of purchasing/marketing. “It seemed like a good fit for us.”
Like the other Amici’s restaurants, the site in The Jewel is East Coast-themed. Black-and-white photos from the Brearley Collection in Boston line the earth-toned walls of the main dining room, featuring images of athletes and celebrities such as Joe Namath, Babe Ruth and the Kennedys.

There is also an open kitchen, where pizzas are created before guests’ eyes. The dough — made three days ahead of time to develop the right amount of elasticity — is hand-stretched, tossed, topped and baked for about 4 minutes at 700-degrees in a large, Italian brick oven. The pies are bubbling and crisp when removed from the flames.

They can come with simple toppings — the New York consists of mozzarella and tomato sauce — or combinations not commonly seen in California. Among the more unique are the New Haven White Clam with garlic, seasonings, olive oil and bacon; the Trentino, featuring several types of cheeses, baby spinach, red onions, pancetta (Italian bacon), herbs and Meyer lemon olive oil; and the Milano, containing mozzarella, provolone, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, bacon, slow-roasted garlic, red-and-green onions and red-pepper flakes.

The restaurant’s enclosed terrace has fully retractable windows to allow for people-watching along Prospect Street, with the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego as part of the backdrop. The patio provides a glimpse of the ocean with tables shaded by umbrellas, including a community table with a fire-pit centerpiece.

The Milano pizza is topped with mozzarella, provolone, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, bacon, slow-roasted garlic, red-and-green onions and red-pepper flakes.

Besides pizza, salads are an “incredibly popular” choice at Amici’s, Allum said. One example is the Artichoke Panzanella Salad, composed of artichoke hearts, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, romaine, basil and capers and served with a red-wine vinaigrette. And the award-winning Caesar dressing is made in batches several times a day — as well as pesto — so it’s “absolutely fresh,” Allum said.

The restaurant also bakes its own bread for sandwiches. But customers should note that sandwiches are only served until 3 p.m. Happy hour offers reduced prices on many of the standard items, plus beer and wine.

Amici’s is also a family-friendly establishment, providing a kids menu with jokes, crosswords and other puzzles.

Most of the restaurant’s items can be prepared gluten-free, with the exception of pastas and two of the pizza toppings. A specially made crust is purchased from Still Riding Pizza in Bridgeport, Conn., and prepared in a separate area in the kitchen from the rest of the food. The pizza is made on a special baking screen and sliced with a designated cutter.

Amici’s delivers to the neighborhoods of La Jolla, University City, Pacific Beach, Sorrento Valley and Bay Ho. The pizzas can be ordered via phone or online. To ensure they arrive fresh and hot, the pizzas are not made until a driver is in the restauran

The Artichoke Panzanella Salad is a combination of artichoke hearts, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, romaine, basil and capers that is served with red-wine vinaigrette. PHOTOS BY Kelley Carlson

On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.
This week: Amici’s Artichoke Panzanella Salad

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Posted by Staff on Jul 5, 2012. Filed under Food, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “It’s all about thin-crusts at Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria in La Jolla”

  1. Simon Mayeski

    This is so great, having Amici's here in San Diego. One of the things I didn't like about moving back to SD – no Amici's! I lived in San Mateo, near what I think is their original location. The pizza is incredible, and the antipasto salad is my favorite. Check it out – great food and nice people.

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