Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria3448 30th St.North Park619-295-1720
"Pineapple and tomato sauce?" says Lefty's co-owner Lauren Hodson. "My taste buds don't go there."
In business now for seven months, Lauren and husband Brendan opened Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria for a simple reason. "We've lived out here for about four or five years, and just were missing pizza and food that we were used to growing up," explains Brendan. "So we thought we might as well give it a shot-you know, we might not be the only ones missing this type of food."
Lefty's specializes in Chicago-style pizza, of which there are actually three varieties, and none include pineapple: thin and crispy, which has a cracker-like crust; deep dish, which is baked in a pan with a more generous quantity of toppings; and stuffed pizza, which is basically a giant pie baked in a pizza pan, filled with at least three pounds of cheese and other toppings, then topped with sauce. As Brendan says, "it's a pretty big pizza."
In addition to incredible pizza, Lefty's offers other traditional Chicago fare like house-made Italian beef, house-made sausages, killer hamburgers and genuine Vienna beef hot dogs served with the traditional Chicago toppings of sliced tomato, dill pickle spear, pickle relish, sport peppers, mustard and celery salt, a delicacy that is so hard to get in San Diego that Lefty's has customers who drive south from Oceanside just to get one.
Occupying a small corner location in North Park, Lefty's is yet another sign of the neighborhood's revitalization. Packed with regulars, Lefty's has a real homey vibe, with Lauren and her brother David greeting customers by name. Of course, Lefty's wouldn't be so popular if the food didn't rock so hard.
Lefty's food is simple and unpretentious, which means there's little to hide behind-you can taste the freshness in everything they serve. Sure-fire bets are the combo sandwich, the pizza (natch), the char-cheddar burger and the char-cheddar dog. Portions are generous, and it's easy to over order if you aren't careful-especially since the pizza by the slice is so delicious it seems like a good accompaniment to any of the other items.
The combo sandwich consists of Italian beef, sausage and green peppers stuffed generously into a fresh Solunto roll. The juices from the meat soak into and soften the bread, but the crust keeps it all together. The flavor and texture are sublime.
The burgers are made from a half-pound of fresh ground beef, with a nicely charred exterior and juicy interior, served on a soft potato roll. The cheddar used here is actually Kaukauna spreadable cheddar cheese, which might seem gauche to gourmets but delivers true Chicago flavor. Highly recommended.Lefty's is open from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Bring your appetite-you're going to need it.