birthday pizza crawl for jake

Jake’s #1 hands down favorite food is pizza. He once gave up pizza for lent as a personal challenge and it was a really, really tough time for him (it didn’t help that we went to a pizza restaurant to meet up with a friend and he was good and had a sandwich instead). Just like I say I have a “dessert” stomach, Jake says he has a “pizza” stomach. I wanted to do something special just for him and I figured a new surprise would be to take him on a pizza crawl to a few different locations, ending at his personal favorite/nostalgic pizza spot down in Mission Beach.

I didn’t tell him what we were doing until we were parked at the first spot. I gave him a card with this little booklet that I made:







Here he is in the car before he knew what we were doing. Adventure time!

The funny part is that I had told him we’d end up in the beach area and as we were getting into the car he asked me, “Since we’ll be down by the beach, do you think we can stop by and get Gabbiano Pizza?” I said, with the straightest face I could manage, “We’ll see.”

Gabbiano Pizza is his favorite pizza spot in town because he grew up eating that pizza. He laughed when he read my booklet and saw what the last stop was going to be. 

1. Long Island Mike’s


Mostly my goal was to try different pizza spots all over town. I picked five places total and we shared one slice at each stop. It helped that we had time to digest in between slices and got to walk a bit for the later spots. Our first stop was at Long Island Mike’s Pizza in Kearny Mesa. This is located in a little strip mall right near the I-15, off Clairemont Mesa Blvd.


This is just half of their slices that day. I noticed they had NY style and on the second shelf, there is a Silican style (thicker crust) pizza.


It was a pretty spacious spot. This is the second half of the restaurant which had a big map of the Long Island Sound. 


[pepperoni ricotta / $2.75 (+ tax = $2.99)]

After surveying the available pizza slices, Jake picked the pepperoni ricotta. Jake didn’t think this slice had nearly enough pizza sauce on it – there was a little bit hidden under the layer of cheese.


The crust had a nice crispy, evenly brown look to it. The middle of the pizza didn’t suffer the fate of being too thin in the middle – it fact you could pick it up and it wouldn’t sag one bit. The overall flavor was good – pepperoni is not my personal favorite but I didn’t mind it with this slice. 


Long Island Mike’s Pizza
5250 Murphy Canyon Rd
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 569-7499

2. Pizziacato


We headed to Banker’s Hill for our second stop off 5th Avenue, not too far from Balboa Park.



Here they have the available slices on display. I kind dug how they were displayed on a plate, like they were prized pizza jewels. Jake wanted to get pepperoni but I told him we should try something new and we decided on the Thai Chicken Pizza instead. He was reluctant because of the bell peppers but I told him we could just take those suckers off. 


Pizza model Jake showing off the next slice. 


[thai chicken pizza slice / $3.25 (+ tax = $3.51)]

The Thai Chicken slice had lots of goodies on it – carrot, green onion, yellow and red bell peppers, cheese, sesame seeds, chili flakes and peanut sauce. We picked most of the bell peppers off since neither of us like the flavor of bell peppers but the rest of the slice was quite yummy. The only downside we saw was that you could hardly detect the peanut sauce on the slice – it tasted like it was barely there. 


The crust was my favorite part of this slice – it was thin, light, and almost airy. The crust had a perfect crispy bottom and again, wasn’t soggy in the middle. 

2420 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-9000

3. Landini’s Pizza


Next we headed down to Little Italy! I was a little worried we wouldn’t find parking but the parking gods blessed us with parking just a few blocks away. I had to parallel park on the LEFT side which totally weirded me out but I ended up doing just fine. 


When I was originally planning this, I thought we’d be able to hit up more spots in Little Italy – but I found out hardly anyone has just slices! It’s mostly whole pies and that just didn’t work for me. Here’s their wide selection of pizzas available. 


I liked their cool tip jar. 

Jake picked out a slice for us and then went off in search of the bathroom while I ordered. There was a guy at the counter who had to take a phone call and couldn’t serve me. And I just kind of stood there waiting for him and another guy working there stared at me, didn’t say anything, left the counter and did that about 2 more times before asking me if I wanted to order. It was kind of odd. 


[sopranos – meatballs, sausage and pepperoni / $3.25 (+ tax = $3.51)]

Pizza model Jake with the meaty chosen slice. 


This was a pretty greasy slice of pizza, but then again, it did have three different kinds of meat on it. The pepperoni didn’t taste good to either of us – it was quite salty. Jake thought the sauce to cheese ratio was much better here and he liked the meatball/sausages. 


The problem for us though was the crust. It was incredibly dry and the bottom looked a bit burnt. It tasted overcooked and the ends of the crust were really hard to bite into. 

Landini’s Pizzeria
1827 India St.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 238-3502

4. Lu Pizzeta


Our next stop was over in Pacific Beach to a new place called Lu Pizzetta. It’s a pretty small spot right off Cass Street near Garnet Ave. We spoke with the owner who was the only one working that evening. He told us about the pizzetta and how it’s unique to where he grew up in Italy and how the pizzas are each little 7″ inch pizzettas. 



I read about it online and it sounded new and different so naturally I had to put it on the pizza crawl. 


We started with the Rossa base ($4.00) which has mozzarella and tomato sauce. We added proscuitto crudo ($1.50) as one of our toppings.


And also ricotta cheese ($0.75). The prosciutto crudo is added after cooking – it was cold when we bit into it. 


Here’s the nice looking crusty bottom.


And since I wanted to eat it “the right way”, we folded it over before eating it (though really you can eat it however you want). The nice owner offered to cut it in half for us, but I wanted to see it whole and just fold it over. 

The total, plus tax, was $6.75. The most expensive “slice” we got but oh man, it was worth it! The meat was a touch salty but it tasted really nice with the soft, creamy (incredibly creamy) ricotta cheese. Jake commented that the crust was like a really good flatbread. To me, it reminded me a little bit of a really nice pita bread. Their was a bit of a rise to the dough and it was fluffy and chewy on the inside, while the outside had this golden, crispy crust – almost like being on a panini press or something. It was very flavorful and incredibly delicious! This was both our favorite dish of the night and we agreed we had to come back and try it again.

Lu Pizzeta
4508 Cass St.
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 412-6181

5. Gabbiano Pizza


And for the final pizza destination. I put this on the list because Jake grew up eating this pizza and he totally craves it from time to time. 


It’s honestly kind of a dingy looking, very no-frills spot. 


[large cheese pizza / $14.95]

They do serve slices here, but we got a whole pizza instead so there would be leftovers to take home to T. This is about the only spot where Jake only wants cheese on top of his pizza. He says that adding additional toppings ruins the flavor of the pizza.


I find this pizza to be way too soft for my liking but Jake loves that style. He also really enjoys their pizza sauce which is a little on the sweeter side. It’s decent pizza but it’s Jake’s childhood favorite. 

Gabbiano Pizza
2912 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
Phone:(858) 488-4010

After our little pizza crawl, my intention was to go to the park that’s over by the jetty and set up a little picnic spot to watch a movie on my laptop. That didn’t really work out though since all the parks around there close at 10PM. They have gates to shut you in, man.

We drove over to another park that didn’t have a gate… but there were some creepy dudes hanging out in the parking lot. I “got a bad feeling about this” and decided to just go back home to Jake’s house. 


Instead I setup our “picnic” in his bedroom. He had the choice of Wayne’s World or Empire Strikes Back for his movie choices. Which do you think he choose?


He opened presents and I gave him a red velvet cupcake (plus pumpkin cheesecake) from Heaven Sent Desserts and sang happy birthday to him. 

It was a sweet evening and I was happy to have planned something he enjoyed so much for his birthday. Happy birthday, my love! 

10 thoughts on “birthday pizza crawl for jake

  1. Oh man. I want to date you and have you do little surprises like this for me. That was the cutest hand drawn pizza crawl booklet EVER. What a fun creative idea (you overachiever!).

    Try Fresco Urban cafe – I can’t remember if Jake is ok w/ mushrooms but the mushroom pizza here is amazing.

    That was a romantic way to end the evening.

    1. Haha, thanks, Faye. I am sometimes an overachiever and I know it! The booklet was the best idea I had for showing him what his present was without just saying “Hey, we’re on a pizza crawl and stuff!”. Jake is not down with the mushrooms, but that just means more for ME!

    1. Hi Lynn – Nothing wrong with grubbing and Netflix! Jake and I also just do that sometimes (that’s pretty much what we did yesterday for his actual birthday). 10 year meet-a-versary! So cute! I’m sure you’ll figure out something special to do. 🙂

    1. Hi J.S. – My hand started to cramp a little while drawing, so in the later photos I drew less streets haha. Oh man, the Lu pizza was so so so so SO good! Definitely going back for more of that crazy goodness!

    1. Thanks, Jinxi! Left side parallel parking seems SO WRONG. I messed it up a couple of times but I was eventually able to wedge myself in there, haha. I made Jake drive after that.

  2. Awwww, you’re the best Girlfriend EVER! Lucky Jake! 🙂 How fun this must have been to plan!

    Re: slices in Little Italy

    You can get individual slices (square) at Napizza. We went there in 2012 and I referenced your post along with Kirbie’s. We all liked their amazing and fluffy but crisp crust.

    I hate parallel parking. I avoid it as much as possible. The only way I will parallel park is if the space is at the front or the end and all I have to do is pull in or back up. In the middle? Forget that, haha.

    1. Hi CC – It was fun! It was a little tough to keep it to myself though! Napizza is pretty good but I didn’t want to include it in my crawl since we’ve been there several times. I do love their crust, though. I’d prefer not to parallel park but I’ve gotten much better at it over the years. My car is a little on the big side though so I’m always afraid I won’t fit into spots!

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