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FIRST LOOK: Isola Pizza Bar

A hit in Little Italy, Neapolitan pizza joint doubles down in La Jolla


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The golden age of pizza is still glimmering. One could argue the carb Frisbee hasn’t been this hot since Ed Ladou, Jeremiah Tower and Wolfgang Puck started putting fancified dinner ingredients on pies in the 80s. The recent boom has been focused on Italian pies, specifically the thin-crusted Neapolitan.

And one of San Diego’s success stories has been Isola Pizza Bar, first opened in 2012 in Little Italy. And now they’re doubling down in La Jolla, taking over the space at 7734 Girard Avenue (formerly Nosh Delicatessen).

Chef-owner Massimo Tenino has bona fide roots, growing up in Piemonte, Italy. He named Isola after his grandma, who taught him how to cook. He opened his first American restaurant, Tavolino Ristorante Italiano, in Tucson in 2003 before coming to the coast.

At Isola, he uses only double-zero flour, imported from Naples, and lets it ferment for 48 hours, which lets the yeast develop deeper flavor. They use mozz and burrata made the same day at the renown Goia Cheese Company, and fires the pies in a 900-degree wood-burning oven using white oak (also imported from Naples).

The new La Jolla location will seat 80, with a small patio for eight more. The bar will have eight taps with local craft beers and rotating Italian standouts like Moretti. The wine list will be Italian, including a wine (Pietro Rinaldi) made by Massimo’s brother, which rated 94 points in Wine Spectator.

The menu will have 15 specialty pizzas from Massimo’s family archive, rotated with whatever's in season. They’ll also make pastas in-house, including new options like rigatoni al ragu (braised Bolognese meat, dry porcini mushrooms), orecchiette alla barese (broccoli rabe, sausage, parmigiano), and chitarra nero di seppia (squid ink spaghetti chitarra, shrimp, saffron, tomato, cream). The menu will also have apps, bruschetta, salads, seafood and desserts.

Starting tomorrow (July 29), it’ll be open six days a week (closed Mondays) for dinner. They’ll start lunch service in early August.

Enough with the talk. Take a gander at the first photos of Isola Pizza Bar, La Jolla.

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