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Pizza South Park San Diego

New pizzeria occupies long-empty building and brings Neopolitan style gusto.

The building across Beech Street from Alchemy sat empty for years until Buona Forchetta moved in with a wood-burning pizza oven and a guarantee of certifiable Neopolitan pizza. Now, South Parkers can’t seem to get enough of the place and it’s been filling up with pizza-hungry patrons every night.

It’s clear that no expense was spared in Buona Forchetta’s construction, as the equipment is all of the finest sort. From the handbuilt pizza oven to the Ferrari Red meat slicer poised and ready to shave some speck, everything seems to be top notch. Even the white linen napkins had the feel of quality.

Pizza, salads, and a few starters compose the menu. Simplicity rules the day, in the best Italian style. A sardine salad ($9) included tender arugula leaves tossed with plenty of lemon and olive oil. Salty parmesan cheese and delightful white anchovies topped it off without ostentation. Pizzelle ($5) were little more than deep-fried rounds of pizza smothered in bright red marinara sauce.

The pizza itself was certainly in the Neopolitan style. The “regina margherita” ($13) was blistered at the outer edges and so soft in the center that the only way to eat it was via fork and knife. Buffalo mozzarella was a nice touch, as the cheese’s flavor is superb, but the rest of the pizza lacked depth of character. If you’re going to produce a minimal pizza, all the elements must be without flaw. The crust was excellent, but the marinara lacked something: whether the robust flavor of roasted tomatoes or a ripe, garlicky bite, I can’t quite say. All I know is that it was too flat for my liking.

A calzone filled with prosciutto and ricotta ($11) had more going for it by virtue of the meat’s salty, umami characteristics. I’m not crazy about calzones per se, not unless they’re loaded to explosive levels, and even then I find the dough’s propensity to trap steam renders it inferior to the basic pizza.

Had I not been freshly committed to cutting back on my drinking, I would have indulged myself in Buona Forchetta’s short-but-sweet selection of (mostly) Italian and California wines in the $7-$10/glass region. As it is, I’ll have to stage a return to trip to see how the place develops. I think it has a lot of potential to be destination-worthy as the summer wears on and the patio becomes ever more enticing.

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