March 26 2012 07:08 PM

University Heights joint's Naples-style pizza not a secret anymore

Photo by Marie Tran-McCaslin

Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano (4207 Park Blvd. in University Heights) turned heads when it first opened in San Diego, with its soft-centered pizza, crispy crust and perfectly developed gluten. For enthusiasts, it was a great addition to the pizza scene. For those who haven't tried Naples-style pizza, it was an opportunity to get to know a specific style of pie from a wood-fired oven.

Before it came along, I didn't appreciate pizza crust. It was merely a carrier for whatever was on top. I would eat it, but it was a bland afterthought and not something to be savored. The crust at Pizzeria Bruno, however, is no afterthought. The flavor is complex, the result of properly risen crust, and it stands on its own, regardless of the toppings.

The pizzas I grew up with were distinctly Californian, with a focus on toppings. Bruno's pizzas definitely don't lack for interesting toppings, and, more importantly, there is an emphasis on quality. The ingredients don't fade against the delicious crust; choices include fresh burrata, buffalo-milk mozzarella, soppressata, prosciutto and fennel sausage. On a recent visit, I had the Salcicce (Italian for “sausage”), which featured fennel sausage along with broccoli rabe. The middle was almost molten. I'd grab a slice, drizzle the addictive chili oil all over (ask for it!) and eat the point with a knife and fork. Then, I'd fold the rest of the slice, working my way to the crust, which I'd enjoy on its own. Other favorites include the Afumicata, with its smoked cheese, and the sauceless Bufalina.

For those who want appetizers, the salads are great and the bruschetta is a must-have when tomatoes are in season. The drink menu features beer and wine but won't knock any socks off. No matter—you're there for fabulous pizza.

When Bruno opened in 2009 in a nook of Park Boulevard near Sprouts (formerly Henry's) Market, it was quieter and known by local pizza aficionados and food enthusiasts. Nowadays, it's bustling and tables aren't always easy to get; it's still a gem, but not so hidden anymore. 

Write to and Marie blogs at and you can follow her on Twitter at @MeanderingEats.


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