I like multiple styles of pizza, l but the one I eat the most is New York thin crust. This is a regular go to lunch meal where you get two slices and a drink or a slice, salad and a drink for under $10. The number of places in San Diego serving quality New York style pizza has exploded in the past 20 years. By far, the one I go to the most is the mini-chain Flippin Pizza. So in our ongoing search for San Diego’s best pizza, I present our Flippin Pizza review.
The first thing to note about Flippin Pizza is it borders on being a chain restaurant. When it comes to pizza (and most foods), I prefer small mom and pop operations. I am not sure that Flippin qualifies as small anymore. However, I can say I have eaten at least 6 of their locations (including 2 in Virginia) and can say the quality has been consistently high. The 4S Ranch location has been our go to since it opened, and the family has eaten their dozens of times with no major mishaps.
Flippin Pizza spun out of one of our early NY-style slice pizza favorites, Knockout Pizza in Carlsbad. Somehow, founder Patrick Farley bought the Knockout concept in 2005 and spun off Flippin. Knockout Pizza is still going strong in Carlsbad, and there is a second Knockout in the Mira Mesa area that also seems to have roots with the original Carlsbad Knockout. However, it seems neither Flippin, or the Knockout in Mira Mesa, are currently related to the original.
Purists claim that it is impossible to make true New York pizza outside the region because the pizza relies on NYC water. Flippin claims that they use a reverse osmosis process to replicate New York water. That sounds like marketing hype to me, but Flippin has one of the best New York crusts around.
The dough is made without added oil, corn syrup or sugar. It is cooked in the pizza oven at 600 degrees. Pizzas are only available in one size, 18 inches. Like every slice pizza, a whole pizza fresh form the oven is the best bet. A plain cheese pizza costs $16.75 with extra toppings at $2.25. Specialty pizzas are available for $21.75.
However, New York style pizza is perhaps best known for being served by the slice. Flippin cooks up about 12 different pies that are served by the slice (or as whole pies). These include favorites such as the Triboro (meatballs, pepperoni, sausage), Tomato Basil Garlic, the Bronx (lots of meat and veggies), BBQ Chicken and Buffalo Chicken. There is even a Whitestone pizza with no tomato sauce and multiple vegetarian pizzas. A cheese slice is $3 and a specialty slice is $3.50.
We often go to Flippin either for their lunch specials which include 2 slices and a drink for $7.50 or one slice, a salad and a drink for $8. Flippin is also by far our favorite pizza place for takeout. Flippin delivers, but not to our area. Both the 4S Ranch and Carmel Mountain locations are a bit of a haul for us, but we prefer to drive and pick-it up rather than get delivery from one of the nearby locations.
Other Flippin Food
Flippin has focused pretty much on pizza. However, they have been experimenting with adding some menu items. Most notably this includes a range of salads. They also offer several sides, including garlic knots, chicken wings, meatballs, and broccolini. However, this is definitely a pizza joint and not a place for Pasta, sandwiches or other dishes. The locations we go to have beer and wine. Recently they have added Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which are becoming fairly commonplace.
If you sign-up for their special offers, they regularly send great deals, such as a free slice, no string attached. One advantage of being part of a chain is often better customer loyalty programs! I love to give Flippin gift cards for Christmas because when you buy a $25 card you get a free lunch special.
As mentioned, Flippin has clear plans to be a major pizza chain. In 2008, restaurant franchiser Herminio Llevat acquired a controlling franchise from founder Patrick Farley. As described in Entrepeneur magazine the goal was clearly to expand and franchise. When we went to visit my family in the Washington D.C. area we were surprised to find San Diego’s Flippin Pizza as a local favorite.
It appears expansion has not occurred as fast as originally planned. By the end of 2017, Flippin had about 7 locations in San Diego, a few more in neighboring Orange County. There were a similar number in the Washington, D.C. area. Newer locations have opened in the Dallas and Atlanta area. There were even Flippin Pizzas opened in Dubai, UAE and Mexico City (I think they have closed).
It remains to be seen how much Flippin can grow and still maintain its quality. They have done a good job so far, but they still remain a small chain. My family loves Flippin so we are definitely rooting for them. They do a great job giving back to the community and offering great customer loyalty programs.
Overall, I think the combination of high quality and reasonable prizes could be a winning formula. People’s taste for pizza are expanding beyond the generic stuff served by chains like Pizza Hut and Dominos. San Diego, like most urban areas, has seen an explosion of quality pizza joints in recent years. Flippin Pizza may be a chain, but we think it is right up there with San Diego’s best pizza.
We are on a quest to review our top pizza places in the greater San Diego area. This involves revisiting our longtime favorites to make sure they are still up to par. I can definitely say that Flippin is on the shortlist for favorite New York style pizza.
For information on locations go the Flippin Pizza website. Our favorite location is in 4S Ranch.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2019
Flippin made our San Diego’s Best NY-Style Pizza list (aka thin crust)