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Bird Rock Pizza & Sports Grill - simply delicious

Bird Rock Pizza and Sports Grill is the newest restaurant in the Bird Rock area - and when this hot new eatery moved into the space formerly occupied by JJ’s Pizza, it was obvious that the fast-growing Bird Rock area had come of age.

While JJ’s was dilapidated and uninviting, Bird Rock Pizza and Sports Grill’s interior is newly painted, well lit and very welcoming. The atmosphere is funky and informal - with red booths and large picnic tables for dining - and there’s a pleasant patio for relaxing and people watching along La Jolla Boulevard. Most important of all, the cuisine is simply delicious.

Pizza still reigns supreme on the new menu, and these mouthwatering pies are amazing. Everything is made from scratch - including the pizza crust and sauces - and the list of specialty pizzas takes up a full page on the large menu.

You can order pizzas in several sizes - from a small “Bambino” pie to a 16-inch large. All four pizza sizes are available with a wide variety of toppings (no less than 14 specialties) not to mention the do-it-yourself concoctions you’re invited to create from a selection that includes artichoke hearts, fried eggplant, kalamata olives, ricotta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and all the typical pizza toppings, such as meatballs, pepperoni, salami and sausage.

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Don’t miss the Bird Rock special if you like everything on your pizza. We loved the mix of meats, mushrooms, black olives, green peppers and yellow onions - and the crust was crisp and delicious. You’ll never want to leave any of the crust behind at Bird Rock. The 35-year-old recipes for the pizza, pasta, sauces and dough at Bird Rock came from Borrelli’s in Rancho Bernardo and Encinitas - the family business.

Pizzas start at $9.50 for the small and range in price up to $20.75 for the large shrimp pesto pizza. You’ll love the calzone ($10.95) at this new restaurant as well. These large beauties serve up to two people and are stuffed with ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce (plus any other toppings you care to add to the basic calzone). Additional toppings run $1.25 - $1.75.

Several pasta preparations will impress aficionados of Italian food. The pasta selection includes penne pasta sauteed in parmesan cheese sauce, traditional lasagna, baked ziti, fettucini Alfredo and ravioli. The home-made sauces featured on the menu include meat, olive oil and garlic, creamy pesto and tomato basil - and they’re all authentic.

The sandwich selection is terrific. You’ll love the “torpedos.” These 8-inch Italian sandwiches are toasted and stuffed with delicious fillings. Try the veal “hoagie” ($8.75). It’s loaded with melted provolone, lettuce, mayo, red onions, pickles and tomato piled atop a breaded veal steak - and it’s delicious. Likewise for the chicken version ($7.25). Both have Italian dressing and are served with chips.

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Philly-style cheese steak ($6.75) and veggie ($6.75) are also among the specialty sandwiches. The cold Italian sandwiches include turkey breast and provolone, roast beef and provolone, and ham and provolone. They can be ordered in small, medium and large sizes - starting as low as $5.50 for the 6-inch.

Hot meatball, eggplant parmigiana, sausage and roasted green peppers, and other delicacies are also available in three sizes, starting at $5.75. You can even get an Angus burger with all the trimmings ($5 for a half-pounder).

You’ll be impressed by the salad selection - which also gives you a choice between entree size and “full” (which serves two to three). We tried the signature antipasto ($6.50 for a small), and it was perfect. All these salads (including Greek, grilled chicken, and a special house veggie salad) are also available in trays that serve anywhere from five to 20 people.

A sports bar is the perfect place to watch a game, and this one is well equipped with television sets (including a 58-inch plasma). That means you’ll probably find yourself nibbling on some of the appetizers - and sampling some of the bar’s beers and wines.

Bird Rock has everything from garlic bread ($.55 a slice) to wings and zucchini sticks. Prices are modest, and there are daily early bird specials, lunch specials, and Happy Hour bargains to check out at this brand new eatery.

There aren’t many dessert offerings at Bird Rock Pizza and Sports Grill, but you can satisfy your sweet tooth with Haagen Daz ice cream, chocolate fudge torte ($2.75), cheesecake ($2.75) or candy.

Parking can be a problem in the Bird Rock area, but not at Bird Rock Pizza and Sports Grill. There are several convenient spots in the alley across from the entrance. You can also take advantage of the delivery service to La Jolla, Pacific Beach and North Mission Beach areas.

Bird Rock Pizza & Sports Grill is located at 5737 La Jolla Blvd. For more information call (858) 456-BIRD.

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