When custom pizza is what you’re after, try Project Pie in Hillcrest
By Kelley Carlson
Project Pie is anything but cookie-cutter. One of Hillcrest’s newer restaurants, it presents a concept that’s unique to the area: Patrons customize personal-size pizzas “assembly line”-style, choosing as many toppings as they want for one set price. “What Chipotle does with burritos, we do with pizza,” founder and CEO James Markham explained.
And Markham is doing his best to ensure that Project Pie does not become a typical chain restaurant — each franchise location (at least seven to date, and counting) has its own style, although they all offer the same menu for consistency purposes.
The Hillcrest location has vintage industrial decor, which seems to fit right in with the trendy, hip neighborhood. Many guests are drawn to the quotes on the walls, which range from funny to famous to inspirational.
Once they’re at the counter, customers are given the option to choose from seven signature pizzas to form the basis of their dream pie.
For those who want the utmost simplicity, there’s a Classic Cheese Pie (No. 1), which is $6. Everything else is $7.85. One of the more “standard” selections is signature No. 2, containing pepperoni, Italian sausage, crumbled meatballs, mozzarella, house-made red sauce and garlic.
Among the more “special” creations are the No. 4 (tomato slices, chopped basil, mozzarella, Parmesan and garlic); the No. 5 (a melted medley of mozzarella, ricotta, Gorgonzola and Parmesan, with garlic, basil, cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil); and the No. 7 (thin slices of prosciutto, caramelized onions, mozzarella and Parmesan).
Most people order a signature pizza, then add and subtract ingredients to make it their own, Markham noted. They can request gluten-free versions, as well.
But customers aren’t restricted to the signatures — they’re also able to use their own imaginations and build their own. Markham cautions patrons that not all toppings taste well together. “I tell people that less is more,” he said.
After all of the garnishes are chosen, the pizzas are baked for just a couple of minutes, until the thin crust is golden.
Despite the restaurant’s name, there are more than pies on the menu. There’s a Mixed Greens Salad featuring grilled chicken, Gorgonzola, craisins, candied walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette. And, of course, there’s a Pizza Salad — cool greens on top of a warm crust, embellished with grilled chicken, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, tomatoes and olive oil. A kale salad is also in the works.
After a meal of pie or salad, there’s more pie to be had (naturally). Guests with a sweet tooth can try the Nutella & Banana, which has chunks of bananas laced with the hazelnut chocolate spread on a crust. There’s also Nutella & Berries (the Hillcrest location prefers using strawberries and blackberries).
While polishing off pizzas, people can turn to beverages from the Boylan soda fountain that are handmade (no preservatives or artificial colorings) and contain pure cane sugar.
■ 3888 Fourth Ave., Hillcrest
■ (858) 759-4300 ■ projectpie.com
The Vibe: Fast casual, relaxedn
Signature Dishes: Pizza No. 5 (four cheeses, garlic, basil, black pepper,
olive oil), Pizza No. 7 (prosciutto, caramelized onions, two cheeses)
Open Since: 2013
Take Out: Yes
Patio Seating: No
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday,
11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday
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Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=121925