5250 Murphy Canyon Road, Kearny Mesa
I’m often amazed at the pizza microclimates and how some people are prejudiced against one or another. One friend of mine, a Chicago native, has strong opinions against New York style pizza. He also disparages Neapolitan style as somehow not substantial enough. The irony is, if given the choice he doesn’t go for deep dish but instead prefers Chicago thin crust (whatever that is).
A pizza-loving guy like me is down for whatever, though I’d be hard pressed to spot a difference between New York, New Jersey, and Long Island styles. Going in to Long Island Mike’s, just off the 15 in Kearny Mesa, I was guessing “New York style crust with bourgeoisie leanings.”
I jest, but it might be accurate. While most of the slices under the long glass case at Long Island Mike’s have all the hallmarks of the standard hand-tossed crust/light-sauce NYC style, what differs from what you might discover in that city is the selection. In the boroughs, you might get a couple of options other than cheese, pepperoni, and mushrooms — maybe a white pie — but you’re pretty much going to see that same limited menu every day. It’s been working for decades, so shut up and choose already and get out of the way for the next customer.
Here in Long Island, San Diego (aka Grantville), there’s space for 16 different pizza pans in that case. And atop each pan you might see a couple different sets of toppings, including ranch, pesto, Buffalo, or barbecue sauce. There might be 20 different kinds of slices available at any given time, including stuffed crust and thick, square-cut Sicilian.
I’ve stopped there for lunch, and to escape afternoon rush hour traffic, and there always seems to be some sort of lineup of people deliberating over the selection. At $2.50 to $2.75 per slice, I’ve delved into a few different options: meat stuffed, featuring meatballs, sausage, ham, salami, pepperoni, and bacon; pesto chicken with ricotta; Hawaiian with ham and pineapple; and one of those thick Sicilian bricks with your basic pepperoni.
The Sicilian was nice and doughy, but I think the thin works better, especially that stuffed version which felt like you stacked two meaty slices on top of each other and gorged yourself. The chicken and the pesto didn’t compare as favorably to the cured meats and tomato sauce, so I’d say if you were curious, make it the 15th or 16th slice you try. With pints on tap from nearby Societe Brewing for less than four bucks, they’ll be easy to wash down.