Paseo de Los Heroes 10001, Baja
When I talked to Juan Carlos Bucio for last summer’s Tijuana beer article, he described a vision of Plaza Fiesta beyond just beer. He envisioned Plaza as a daytime option for foodies, not just for nightlife partying. Many restaurants that are inside a bar, most of them serving pub food, have come and gone. The Plaza is constantly changing. Napolito Pizza is Bucio’s (and partners) first attempt at a restaurant, concentrating their efforts on food first, bar second.
My first impression of Napolito is that it really wants to take you away from Plaza Fiesta and into a classic Italian restaurant with white-and-red-checkered tablecloths, exposed brick, rustic Italian paintings, a dimly lit room, and a nice, romantic balcony. The problem with the balcony is that the surrounding bars are loud. Inside the restaurant it is quiet, and it’s the only place in Plaza that has air conditioning.
The menu is mostly about pizza, with 12 varieties. Three salads ($4), three pastas ($5), and drinks, including sangria and craft beer, make up the rest of the menu. I got two pizzas, each half a different kind. Meat Lovers and Shrimp Pesto on one, Margarita and Mexican on the other. There is only one size (large), and they are all $6.50 to $8 for a full pie. It is not as good as my favorite delivery, Hornero, but it is bigger and twice as filling. If Napolito delivered, they would be my second favorite.
Overall it is a pretty good pizza, but it’s average. It is a thousand times better than the pizza I had at El Local, the bar below Napolito.
The Meat Lovers packed more meat than I expected in every slice: pepperoni, salami, pastrami, bacon, and Italian sausage. It was the one I liked the most. The Shrimp Pesto was simple enough, but it could have used more flavor. It did include plenty of shrimp.
Bucio told me that the Margarita was his favorite and also recommended the Mexican pizza. The Margarita had thick slices of tomato and one big basil leaf on each slice. It was more of a cheese pizza with the basil and tomato thrown on as an afterthought. I called Hornero’s Margarita a disgrace, and this one followed in the same fashion.
The Mexican pizza was made with bean spread instead of tomato sauce and had copious amounts of chorizo, onions, and jalapeños. Again, it was a decent pizza, very filling and packed with ingredients.
I took the rest of the pizzas home and had them for breakfast the next day. I enjoyed it cold more than I did at the restaurant. As a mostly solo eater, a pizza that is better the next day is a pizza worth having.
Napolito is still new and still growing. Bucio informed me that a new menu is on the way and that they may deliver by next year. The new menu will offer more pizzas and include other plates such as a roasted zucchini with cheese and meat on top and fries accompanied with a sauce made out of hops. They will also have more drinks and a larger craft beer selection.