On The Menu: Crust styles abound at Regents Pizzeria in La Jolla

• ON THE MENU:

Locals don’t have to go far to find Chicago- and New York-style pizzas under the same roof.

Regents Pizzeria presents the best of both worlds — along with craft beers — in its new, 4,100-square-foot space, just a few blocks from Westfield UTC shopping mall in La Jolla.

“Our mission at Regents is rather simple in that it all harkens back to an underlying passion to transcend the traditional dining experience by delivering fresh, quality ingredients in an inviting atmosphere,” said Bill Vivian, who co-owns the restaurant with Tom Carson, Ananda Goldrath and general manager Cary Reutter.

Indeed, it’s a casual environment, with a combination of communal and traditional seating. Guests in the main dining room can witness pizzas being hand-spun and placed in a stone deck oven in the semiopen kitchen, while those who venture out to the “beer garden” patio can catch the latest game on flat-screen TVs.

Obviously, pizzas form the basis of Regents’ menu. The dough is a special recipe — a collaboration between the late owner Stephen Carson and the well-known Bread & Cie bakery in Hillcrest, and it’s formed into the distinctively different New York- and Chicago-style pizzas.

Those who enjoy New York pizza’s thin, foldable crust will find topping combinations that satisfy vegetable and meat lovers alike. There’s the aptly named Veggie Pizza, chock-full of portobello mushrooms, semi-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, grilled onions and zucchini; White Pizza, featuring a base of rosemary and garlic olive oil, topped with spinach, mozzarella and ricotta; and Hot Sopressata, blanketed with spicy Italian salami slices and sprinkled with oregano and parmesan.

On the other end of the spectrum are the thick-crusted Chicago-style pies, which have lots of cheese and a layer of sauce on top. One example is the Popeye, stuffed with melted Parmesan, spinach, artichoke hearts and ricotta.

Pizzas can be ordered whole or by the slice, and any of them can be made vegetarian or vegan. Gluten-free will be coming in 2015, Vivian said.

Regents’ wings go hand-in-hand with the pizzas, ranging from mild to insanely hot. The spiciest is the Scorpion Wings, at 2 million Scoville units — the restaurant won’t serve them unless a waiver is signed. A mere sampling of the sauce burns the mouth for minutes.

Another appetizer with a kick is the Bacon Plate. The thick slices of marbled bacon — which are slow-baked for three hours — have a sweet-and-spicy rub and are served over shishito peppers.

While pizza generally takes center stage at Regents, there are other entrees to note. Among the pastas is the Rigatoni Chicken Pesto, enveloped in a creamy homemade sauce with feta, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, and sides of “garlic-knots” bread rolls. Calzones, sandwiches and salads are also available.

Regents’ boasts 30 stainless-steel taps, plus two nitro and two cask beer handles. The majority of brews are from San Diego, with six to eight changing weekly. Among the recent selections: the light and crisp Pizza Port Ponto Session IPA; bitter and hoppy Ska Modus Hoperandi; dark Hess Ficus Saison, brewed with figs; and New English Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout.

Regents Pizzeria

4150 Regents Park Row, Suite 100, La Jolla. (858) 550-0406, regentspizza.com

• The Vibe: Casual, lively

• Signature Dishes: Milano Pizza, Pizza Pazza, Dominic’s Pizza, Regents Signature Pizza

• Open Since: 2005 (current ownership)

• Take Out: Yes

• Patio Seating: Yes

• Reservations: No

• Happy Hour: 4-7 p.m. daily

• Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight daily

On The Menu - Recipe of the Week: Regents Pizzeria's RIGATONI CHICKEN PESTO:

— Ingredients:

Rigatoni 8 oz

Garlic 1 tbsp

Butter 1 tbsp

Cream 8 oz

Salt 1 pinch

Pepper 1 pinch

Pesto 2 tbsp

Sun-dried tomatoes 1.5 oz

Artichoke hearts 1.5 oz

Chicken 3 oz

Garlic bread 2 slices

— Method:

• Prepare Rigatoni al dente

• Make alfredo sauce: Put 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp garlic in pan. Stir until butter melts and garlic releases odor then remove from heat. Add 8 oz of cream. Return to stove and bring to boil. Once mixture reduces, add salt, pepper, prepared pesto, artichokes, tomatoes and chicken. Sautee for 1 minute. Add pasta to sauce pan and mix with tongs then plate and serve.

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