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On the Menu: Revived Pizza on Pearl treats La Jolla taste buds to a blast from the past

Pizza on Pearl serves 14 varieties of pizza as whole pies or by the slice.
(Salsa Digital Agency)

Having grown up eating pizza in each of New York City’s five boroughs, I consider myself a bit of a maven, so I’m always keeping an eye open for a new pizza to sample. Driving through La Jolla recently, I noticed a new sign.

The sensation of déjà vu struck me — Pizza on Pearl? I know it’s been here before, perhaps in a pre-COVID time?

Originally opened in 2009 at 617 Pearl St., Pizza on Pearl quickly became a local favorite and one of San Diego’s “elite” pizzerias, with the
benefit of the beach close by. Then the location became Mr. Moto Pizza House in 2018 before reverting back to Pizza on Pearl early this year.

Along with its fun, casual atmosphere, 14 varieties of pizza are served up as whole pies or the ever-popular by the slice.

A glass display case draws you in and tantalizes your taste buds with a Technicolor selection of pies, including all favorites from the red (with
classic marinara sauce) and white (with a creamy garlic paste) varieties.

Glance up at the big board for the full menu, which goes well beyond pizza.

You’ll find some fan faves, new creations and classics on the menu, including the popular traditional cheese pizza and the trending BCR (bacon, chicken, caramelized onions and ranch).

Pizza on Pearl puts its varieties on display in a big glass case.
(Salsa Digital Agency)

I spoke with Andres Brambila, partner and manager of the pizzeria, about the return to the restaurant’s origins, recipes, chef, location, name and all.

With a heritage spanning from Mexico to Lebanon, Brambila is a third-generation restaurateur who started working in the kitchen by his grandfather’s side when he was only 10. Now he runs the restaurant with his uncle Aram Baloyan, who owned the original Pizza on Pearl.

The menu can please all pizza lovers with its broad selection of toppings to create customized pies and slices. Meat lovers can sink their teeth
into everything from pepperoni, sausage and ham to meatballs, bacon and chicken, while piscivores can add anchovies for a salty oomph. Vegetable toppings include mushrooms, Kalamata olives, spinach, caramelized onions, artichokes, roasted tomatoes and sassy jalapenos.

On the cheese side, if you want to explore you can swap out the default mozzarella with ricotta, gorgonzola or Greek feta. Gluten-free and vegan options also are available.

Pizza on Pearl returned earlier this year to 617 Pearl St. in La Jolla.
(Salsa Digital Agency)

For a change-up, try authentic stromboli, an Italian-American creation in which dough and all the toppings are rolled together, baked and then sliced like a pinwheel. It’s filled with pepperoni, ham, green peppers and mozzarella. Add an order of Knots — garlic or stuffed (cheese, pepperoni and jalapenos), or a house or Caesar salad to round out the meal.

For a sweet ending, indulge in a slice of authentic New York cheesecake.

Daily specials include two slices of pizza and a soda for $9 or two slices and a 16-ounce draft beer for $15.

Dine inside or go out on the patio with its refreshing ocean breezes. You also can order online for delivery and takeout.

While eating my way through the five boroughs as a youth, I never envisioned myself picking up a couple of slices to go while walking to watch the sun set over the Pacific ... now that’s amore!

Pizza on Pearl

Where: 617 Pearl St., La Jolla

Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and noon to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Information: (858) 729-0717, pizzaonpearl.com

Recipe

Marinara dipping sauce

Ingredients:

• 14-ounce can or jar strained tomatoes

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 sweet red pepper, diced

• 1 handful fresh basil, chopped

• 1 teaspoon raw honey

• 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

• Sea salt, cracked pepper and oregano, to taste

Instructions:

• Heat oil on low in a saucepan. Add garlic and red pepper and sauté until tender.

• Add tomatoes, honey, basil and seasonings. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm as a dipping sauce for pizza or your favorite bread.

— Courtesy of Catharine Kaufman