Friday, January 14, 2011

Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas

Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas
Last Saturday night, James and I got out of the house and tried something new. You might not think that would be such a big deal for someone who calls herself a "foodie" and writes about restaurants (even if it's just for fun) but it's pretty unusual for us. For the most part, we cook at home during the week, and we've been doing quite a bit of traveling (and entertaining) lately so fancy dinners out just haven't been in the budget. When we do go out, we have a short list of places we like to go where we know we'll have a good meal. I've been meaning to do a post about that lately, and update my places to eat in San Diego list as well as the 100 good things to eat and drink. It's a bit of a project though, so when I get through this backlog I'll tackle it.
Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas
I've liked Chef/Owner Wade Hageman's food since he was the opening chef at Blanca, back when the menu still reflected the go-go mentality of the aughts. The food was luxurious, simple but interesting, and very, very expensive. Luckily, Hageman is bringing the same level of attention to detail and technique to the much less expensive menu at Blue Ribbon. You can see it in the above-pictured dish of local albacore crudo with buttery avocado, ruby red grapefruit and lemon olive oil, and the simple but perfectly balanced plate of creamy burrata with arugula tossed with lemon olive oil and crostini.
Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas
The menu is roughly divided into two parts, with the top half comprised of salads, snacks and small plates, and the bottom a list of composed artisan pizzas. Everything is sized for sharing, which allows for the option of a very inexpensive meal if you don't go overboard - like we did.
Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas
We didn't really need two pizzas, as it turned out, but we really wanted to try a white pie and a red one, and we figured leftovers would not be a problem. (In fact, they were eaten for breakfast straight out of the box the next morning.) We especially loved the white pie - called the "Signature" on the menu - topped with mozzarella, lemon zest, ricotta and basil. The kick of the zest was especially nice with the creamy ricotta.
Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas
The red pie was also good, but we wished we'd ordered the Knight Special instead of the "Classic." Topped with housemade fennel sausage and mushrooms, it was tasty, but a little wet and heavy. The Knight pizza, pictured at top, was made with sliced assorted salumi and looked like it might be a better balance for a meat/red sauce pizza. The Classic was great cold out of the fridge though, maybe even better than it was hot.
Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas
I snuck this blurry photo of our neighbors' butternut squash soup and salad with beets, oranges and hazelnuts. The soup looked velvety and rich (there's that attention to detail) and the salad was chock full of good ingredients.
Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas
From our seats at the bar, we had a good view of Wade tossing the pizzas and sliding them into the oven. I was impressed to see him all of that work himself. He's clearly taking not only pride but a leading role in producing what's coming out of the kitchen. The menu boasts that their dough goes through a three day fermentation process. These days, pizza is all about the crust - and while this one was good, it wasn't quite as good as Mozza or Pizzeria Delfina. It was thinner, flatter, less stretchy and chewy. There is bound to be some variation though since he's cooking them in a real, live wood-burning oven - even from one of our pizzas to the other we noticed one was more blackened around the edges than the other. I would need to go back and try a few more pizzas before declaring this the best in San Diego, but it's definitely up there.
Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - Encinitas
They serve only one dessert, but it's a good one. Butterscotch pudding with caramel sauce, sea salt and whipped cream. I think it's easily as good as Mozza's, James said not quite. Either way, it does the trick. The espresso from their little automatic machine was pretty darn good too. At the end of our meal, we well understood the crowds gathered around the door waiting for tables, and we felt lucky to have snagged the two seats at the bar when we arrived. We left happy and sated, and we're already planning our next trip back - preferably with two other couples, so we can make a reservation (they only take them for parties of six or more) and try more pizzas!

Blue Ribbon Pizzeria
Lumberyard Shopping Center
897 South Coast Hwy (101)
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 634-7671

7 comments:

  1. So glad to have a place like this in north county!

    Re the butterscotch pudding: the recipe is posted on Blue Ribbon's website, and a quick comparison shows that it's almost identical to the one from Mozza that ran in the NYT.

    Either way, the pudding is delicious. =)

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  2. I went to Blue Ribbon twice in two weeks - and the second time I saw two of the other girls I'd gone there the first time with! It was my favorite new find of 2010, the quality of the food (including the butterscotch pudding) sets itself apart from a lot of what I've had in the area. Love it!

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  3. Fabulous to see you give BRP a try, we absolutely love this place! We go here for birthdays, girls night, date night, any excuse for burrata and butterscotch.... The albacore crudo is a mouthful of flavors, everything is consistently amazing and the atmosphere is so cozy and welcome. Might need to persuade the hubs to head there tonight.... won't take much prodding. :)

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  4. Amy - I think I own at least seven gray sweaters too, if that's what you're referring to! Those and striped shirts are all I want to wear these days. I will have to give the pudding recipe a try, I've been meaning to.

    Kathy - I just wish it was more convenient for us, but since we don't go out all that often, I guess we can make the drive every once in a while!

    Kate - burrata and butterscotch - I like the sound of that! Hope you got your wish. :)

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  5. I was here about a month ago with friends, and they really enjoyed the pizza. The pizza combinations sounded delicious but I couldn't eat any as there were no gluten free options for me :-( Your post has inspired me to contact Blue Ribbon Pizzeria to see if they have any future plans to add a gluten free crust option. It's always worth a try... Thanks!

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  6. The pizza is making my mouth water

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  7. Based on nothing more than your photo, I made appetizers last night for three Japanese students attending UCI. A small mound of avocado with a little salt, a slice of tuna, a sliver of grapefruit, drizzled with some meyer lemon olive oil, and topped with fresh chives. They were hesitant - very hesitant - but then one ate hers, and said, "Wow! That's really good!" The others followed, and the general opinion was that the strangest sushi they had ever seen was pretty darn good. So, thanks for the idea! Now I'm wondering about other things to combine with tuna... blood oranges? This group didn't care for spicy food, but I think next time I'll try adding a little chili to the avocado, and maybe a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar... So, thanks for a great idea!!!

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