It’s been a long wait but Pizza Port finally opened its doors a few weeks ago to the delight of many eagerly awaiting residents.
On a recent weekday, Pizza Port was packed for lunch with locals coming in groups to sample the new pizza in town. The Imperial Beach location is the newest Pizza Port restaurant to open. The company has five other locations on the coast, from San Clemente to Ocean Beach. General Manager Chris Livesay explained that Imperial Beach Pizza Port is the first designed with an open concept due to COVID. The interior part of the restaurant has an industrial look and includes glossy wooden picnic tables which are communal seating, a staple at all locations, but also plenty of tables and chairs spread throughout for those who want more privacy. . The restaurant, which has a family-style concept, offers plenty of video games for the youngest to entertain while their parents can relax eating pizza and sipping beer. The outdoor patio has palapa-style umbrellas and high counters, facing the street. Two 7-barrel brewing tanks have a special place in the restaurant where head brewer Tom Finney was busy checking gauges. There are also tanks outside which are used for fermentation.
Although Pizza Port currently does not sell beer and is awaiting its liquor license, customers have not been discouraged from trying the new restaurant. “People come here. It’s exciting how many people we get just for the pizza,” said IB native and general manager Chris Livesay. He also said that the previous weekend there was a long line of customers waiting for a table.
Siblings Gina and Vince Marsaglia opened a basement brewery in Solana Beach and added a pizza joint in 1987. Pizza Port is now the most awarded brewery in the United States.
The Imperial Beach Pizza Port has an extensive menu offering a range of pizzas, snacks and salads and soon to be 30 draft beers, five of which are brewed on site. A beer called Surfhenge IPA is in the works to honor the new IB location. “Each Pizza Port has its own beverage [named after the city it’s in] and a brewer…we compete with each other and who can come up with our own beer…individual locations get prizes,” Livesay explained.
Something new is already being prepared in the kitchen. “We have added [a] flat top grill, this will be the first before we expand to all locations and we are looking at doing sandwiches,” Livesay explained. The Bressi Ranch location in Carlsbad is where deliveries come from for all Pizza Port restaurants, and Livesay said a heavy smoker was purchased for this location to make and deliver brisket, pork pulled and smoked meats for Pizza Port locations in the near future.
Pizzas are available in small, medium and large ($10.50 – $23) and some of the most original and beloved include the Roma – made with bacon, pepperoni, sausage, salami, onions, Canadian-style olives, peppers and mushrooms; and Monterey with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and artichoke hearts. For something different and unique, try the Bressi Ranch which features pulled pork, Buffalo Ranch sauce, pepperoncini, red onion, cheddar and mozzarella topped with fresh cilantro.
At Pizza Port, you can create your own pizza by choosing a crust, which includes choices like gluten-free, whole grain thin and traditional thin, sauce and toppings. Anti-Wimpy Gourmet pizzas include Garlic Vegetables, Bacon Cheeseburger, and BBQ Chicken. Slices of pizza are also available and the lunch special is $6.99 served until 3 p.m. and comes with a slice, a garden salad and a soda. If you just want a snack, try the mac and cheese bites served with marinara sauce, the vegetable basket or the baked chicken wings.
Livesay said with Coronado Brewing and Hess Brewing also in town, there is friendly competition. “We’re all one big family,” he said of all the brews. In fact, Pizza Port and the company Coronado Brewing have collaborated on a beer called “IB Chillin” which will be served at both breweries.
Yvonne and Bob Vasquez had lunch at Pizza Port during a recent visit. It was the second time in four days that the couple had been to the restaurant. “I like it. It’s very casual, comfortable…I love the table tops. Can’t wait to get the liquor license…the pizza crust is great. We order a small pizza and it’s we have leftovers,” says Yvonne Vasquez.
If you’re in a hurry, you can order takeout and get a six-pack starting at $12. Pizza Port merchandise is also on sale with t-shirts and other items on display.
Pizza Port, 204 Palm Ave. Dial (619) 373-1470. Temporary hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Flight. 38, n° 36 – Thursday, September 8, 2022