We arrived for dinner around 6pm on a balmy night, and the garage doors were raised so that the dining space was open to the street. We were seated quickly and had attentive service from the staff.
The one-page menu is focused on the pizza, classic mixed drinks (I had a dirty martini with bleu cheese stuffed olives), and a short but well-considered choice of beers and wine.
To sample a more traditional pizza, we opted for a "base pie" with red sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, and sausage topping. Although they typically used pre-cooked sausage, the pizzaiolo agreed to prepare ours the correct way, applying raw sausage to cook on the pie.
Each pie come in a "small" oval or a large one. In fact, the choices are "large" and "immense" - much like the oval pies at Sally's in New Haven. Our red pie was $14, the white pie $14.50. Far too much pizza for two people, but we took on the challenge.
|Mashed potato pie at Basic in San Diego|
|The potato pizza at Sally's in New Haven, for comparison|
|Crystal's first day on the job, with Breanna|
|Magnificent crumb in the cornicione|
The potatoes were mashed to a perfectly crumbly texture, and applied in proper modest proportion. I think I detected some garlic flavor in there, too. The bacon, crisp and chewy, added an ideal final burst of flavor.
The cheese was a nice role player. I might have added a saltier aged cheese into the mix, but that's an insignificant quibble. If I had a leftover slice, I'd heat it up with a fried egg for breakfast. Wonderful stuff.
Our red pie was generously dotted with lumps of fresh Italian sausage. The crust was identical to the mashed potato pie - a bit soft in the center due to the volume of sauce and cheese, and ideally crisp and chewy everywhere else. There is a base pie on the menu that leaves out the mozzarella - I'd love to try that so that the crust can shine even more.
The sauce on the red pie was a role player, as was the mozzarella and Parmesan combo. They added the right balance of textures and flavors, but the crust was clearly the star. Even as a bit of a red pie purist, I had a slight preference for the white pie while my dining buddy Jeff leaned toward the traditional red pie.
The million dollar question - how did these California/New Haven pizzas compare to the originals in Connecticut? Well, the crust is about as good as any crust, anywhere. Better than Sally's, on which this pie appears to be modeled. Better than Portland's Apizza Scholls. Not sure it tops Frank Pepe's, but this is first rank pie. I suspect it has earned a place in my Top Ten.
|Banh mi from The Food Shop|
San Diego has turned out to be a terrific culinary destination. If you're in the East Village or neighboring Gaslamp section, Basic Pizza and The Food Shop should be numbers one and two on your list.