Pizza Port was opened in 1987 in Solana Beach, a small beach community in North County San Diego, by sister and brother duo Gina and Vince Marsaglia (they also owned famed brewery Lost Abbey). The original menu was pizza and wings. Vince got into home brewing and started making his own beer in the back of the restaurant. After tasting homebrew samples over the course of a few years, their family, friends and shop regulars urged the Marsaglias to invest in a seven barrel brew house, and the rest is history.
Where Can You Find a Pizza Port?
The original location is in Solana Beach (1987). Next came Carlsbad Village Drive (1997), followed by San Clemente (2003), Ocean Beach (2010) and Bressi Ranch (2013), which is home to their production brewery.
“Pizza Port pizza is definitely unique, from our homemade dough (traditional or whole-grain beer crust made with Sharkbite Red Ale!), to our variety of more gourmet toppings,” says Brand Ambassador Jill Davidson. They make everything from traditional choices like cheese or pepperoni to more adventurous selections such as the Pizza Carlsbad (pesto sauce, mesquite grilled chicken, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and feta), Pizza San Clemente (black bean sauce, tomatoes, olives, red onions, topped with cheddar, mozzarella, Spanish spices and cilantro) and Pizza Ocean Beach (Portobello mushrooms, butternut squash, roasted red peppers, roasted asparagus, house smoked bacon and gorgonzola cheese).
“And let’s not leave out the garlic buddies – pizza dough run through the oven and brushed with olive oil, parmesan, and a tasty mix of seasonings, cut into bite size pieces and served with dipping sauce…basically, tiny morsels of happiness and all that is good in the world,” says Davidson, who claims that no Pizza Port experience is remotely complete without them. “We also have gluten-free options available, and salads and wings to compliment the pies.”
The Beer Program
“Pizza Port’s beer is certainly something special,” says Davidson. Back in 1987, there were only two other functioning breweries in San Diego: Karl Strauss and Callahan’s Pub & Brewery (which now includes San Diego Brewing Company). “Every beer was new and exciting, which is a feeling that Gina and Vince valued and have somehow been able to capture through the years.” While the food menu is the same everywhere, each location has their own brew system with their own head brewer who has the creative license to brew to their heart’s content. “This has resulted in a cornucopia of styles and recipes that continues to grow to this day.”
As a result, the myriad brew masters have thought up some amazing and unique beers. At the five locations combined, Pizza Port brewers have racked up eighty-five medals at the Great American Beer Festival, twenty-nine at the World Beer Championships and a rabid, die-hard following that has grown to expect old favorites and fresh, new offerings with every visit. “This ever changing assortment matches with an incredible response and appreciation from our loyal following has enabled us to become who we are today,” says Davidson. In addition to Pizza Port’s house beers, each location also showcases guest brewery taps. “There are so many incredible beers out there, from classic European breweries to the new kids on the block in San Diego, and we want our guests to try them all,” she adds enthusiastically. “At the end of the day we just like to drink great beer with our friends, so it is exciting to have so many different choices available.”
Although you can find limitless varieties of unique beer at each restaurant, currently they can and distribute four varieties of beer; Chronic Ale, a mellow, easy drinking amber ale (4.9% abv), Ponto Sessionable IPA (4.5% abv), Swami’s IPA (6.8%), and Kook Double IPA (8.5%). “We will be dropping a fifth style, Pick Six Hoppy Pilsner (5.2% abv). When it comes to our in-house and specialty beer offerings, it is fairly safe to say that at some point in time, including brewers past and present, we have dappled in the majority of beer styles out there.” In her five years with the company alone she has seen everything from a Kolsch to a Cilantro Pale Ale to a Mango IPA to a Sour Kiwi Saison to a Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine. “With literally hundreds of others in between.”
Pizza Port Celebrates Comic-Con
“These are the beers you’re looking for.”
Davidson is fairly enthusiastic when talking about the notion of celebrating Comic-Con at Pizza Port. “Talk about right up our alley,” she says. “We are known for our variety of Star Wars and other awesomely nerdy (and I use that in the most endearing way- I am a GIGANTIC nerd!) themed beers.” There is even a Star Wars Day at their San Clemente location, happening this year on Saturday, August 8th. “In the past we have had a brewer on the panel at Comic-Con speaking out his Tydirium Imperial IPA, but this year we are keeping the party at Pizza Port Ocean Beach with themed beers on draft all weekend.”
She says that all Comic-Con revelers (and even those who don’t attend) can be treated to seeing the staff donned in full costumes if they happen to stop in on Thursday or Saturday.
Davidson knows that Pizza Port wouldn’t be what it is today without devoted fans throughout Southern California. “I said it earlier, but I’ll say it again: we wouldn’t be who we are without all of you.” She couldn’t be more grateful to share lunches, dinners, birthdays, post-soccer game meals, pre-Belly Up meals, and just plain beach days with the fantastic locals and visitors of San Diego and South Orange County. “It is such an honor to have grown with the craft beer community and to see so many of our colleagues and friends go on and succeed in their own ventures. Cheers to how far we all have come, and cheers to the endless possibilities the future holds.”