When it comes to lists of best pizza places North County San Diego usually comes up short. However, there are quite a few places in the Carlsbad, Vista, Oceanside area that top our list. One of the leading contenders is Privateer Coal Fire Pizza in Oceanside.
Oceanside sits on the northern edge of San Diego County about 40 miles from central San Diego. However, it is right on the I-5 freeway heading north to Orange Count and Los Angeles. It is also near Legoland. Privateer Coal Fire Pizza has become a favorite when we are in this area.
Privateer Coal Fire Pizza is in the fancy California/Italian pizza category of our pizza taxonomy. However, this is a very casual family-friendly place. There are long picnic tables, booths and a nice bar area with seating. Nevertheless, this is still high-end pizza.
The pizzas at Privateer Coal Fire Pizza are one size and designed to serve 1-2 people. With a party of six we can get by with 4 pizzas. A kid’s cheese pizza is $11. A Margherita pizza is $14 while other specialty pizzas are $15 to $18. Extra toppings are $2 to $5 each.
The focus is on the custom specialty pizzas. We have tried several including the $17.50 Raen (white sauce, provolone, Fior di Latte, prosciutto and arugula), the $16 Cassidy (tomato sauce, Gran Padano cheese, pineapple, jalapenos and pepperoni), and the $16.50 Fennel Sausage (tomato sauce, fennel sausage, Fior di Latte, bell pepper and onion). My personal favorite is the $16 Meatball Pie with house marinara, Fior di Latte, provolone, caramelized onion, meatballs and parsley.
When you have to look up the name of ingredients, you pretty much know you are in fancy pizza territory. Fior di Latte is basically like Mozzarella while Gran Padano is similar to Parmigiano Reggiano. I was actually first introduced to Privateer Coal Fire Pizza when Serious Eats did an article on a special Brussels Sprout pizza. I have never tried this pizza, but it may still show up as a specialty.
We have always gone for dinner but I noted they have a lunch special with a 9 inch pizza for only $7. Next time I am going for lunch!
The also have a clam pizza which we have yet to try. Personally, I am not a big fan of clams. My wife loves clams but since she ate at Frank Pepe in New Haven she has become a clam pizza snob. Next time we are definitely going to try the Captain Fin which includes clams, potato and bacon.
Privateer Coal Fire Pizza has much more than just pizza. The menu includes, sandwiches, burgers, fish tacos and some great appetizers like their spicy cauliflower. Right next door they have opened the Privateer Marketplace and Wine Bar. The Marketplace features charcuterie plates, desserts, sandwiches and specialty coffee.
Overall, Privateer Coal Fire Pizza is one of my favorite high-end pizza places. The prices are fairly reasonable for this type of pizza and the atmosphere is on the more low-key friendly side. Too many fancy pizza places go for style over substance. In my mind, Privateer Coal Fire Pizza does a nice job of serving great food, at a decent price in a casual environment.
To see our full list of top pizza places go here.