In the Fun Diego Family quest for best pizza we get the chance to revisit places we have not been to for a long time. URBN Pizza was one of those places. To our surprise, URBN Pizza has now become one of our favorite pizza places in San Diego. This is our URBN Pizza Review.
Our recent visit to URBN Pizza in Vista took us by surprise. We had been to this location several times, as well as the ones in the downtown San Diego area. While I thought the pizza was good, I thought the angle they were going for was way over priced for what you got. After my most recent visit I have changed my mind and am now re-examining URBN Pizza’s spot on our best Pizza in San Diego list.
In our quest for the best pizza in San Diego we have developed our own pizza taxonomy with four major categories. Originally, I listed URBN in our fancy pizza category. This was due to a perceived high price and ingredients like clams. However, after my recent visit I am moving URBN to our thin crust category (my personal favorite). This is not so much NY-style pizza as New Haven, CT pizza.
New Haven is noted for having some of the best pizza in the country (see this article). Our family stopped at the original Frank Pepe Pizzeria back in 2012 (they now have multiple locations). Frank Pepe’s coal-fired pizza is legendary and the place was packed. URBN was definitely inspired by Frank Pepe.
There are actually 4 locations of URBN, as well as the first Basic pizza bar in downtown San Diego (all are operated by the URBN Group). The one we go to the most is the one in Vista which is a near our favorite Wave Water Park. There is also one in North Park, as well as Encinitas and El Cajon.
I actually had not been to URBN in several years, having discounted it as over-priced and not as good as Frank Pepe’s. However, our first revisit after five years changed my mind. The pizza was much larger than I remembered and not as expensive. Yes, the toppings were over-priced, but overall, I thought it was reasonable.
I have since visited the North Park location again to try out their lunch special. For $10 you get or choice of a cheese, pepperoni or margherita individual pizza plus a salad. They also have calzones and sandwiches on special. Of course, this is a crowded area for top notch pizza. Within blocks are some of our other favorites, including Pizzeria Luigi, Sicilian Thing Pizza and Berkley Pizza.
The North Park and downtown Basic location are happening bar areas. They have a wide, open space atmosphere. It will get very crowded with a party crowd later in the evening. The Vista location is substantially smaller. We still need to try the El Cajon and Encinitas locations.
The pizza at Urbn is much more reasonable than I remembered. The large pizza comes in a baking pan and is in a sort of oval/rectangle shape. It can easily feed 2-3 people. The cost for the basic red pizza with mozzarella is $17. That is pretty comparable to an 18-inch NY-style pizza at our favorite places.
They also feature a white pizza that eliminates the red sauce and adds garlic. This is also $17 (note prices and offerings vary by location). For a dollar less, you can substitute olive oil for the mozzarella on either the red or white pies. The clam pies traditionally use the white pizza.
I think there are two things that put me off to Urbn after my first few visits. First the clam pizza is nowhere near as good as at Frank Pepe’s. As my wife said, the clams on the East Coast are just in a different league.
The second issue I had was the price of the toppings. Adding meatballs cost $5. Adding clams cost a whopping $12. Other toppings tend to be in the $2 to $4 range (once again price seems to vary by location).
However, this is the type of pizza that doesn’t really need toppings. Simple is better. The sauce and crust are wonderful, and I would only add one or two toppings. The large specialty pies range from $26 for a basic margherita up to $29. Charging $9 to top a pizza with tomato and basil (a margherita) seems a little extreme to me. I can see why after a few visits I wasn’t eager to go back.
However, I am glad that I did because, if you know what you are doing the prices are reasonable. In terms of quality, there red sauce pizza has now soared to the top of my list for one of the best thin crust pizzas in San Diego.
I am not quite as fond of white pizza. URBN Pizza is noted not only for its white clam pizza, but also a white pizza with mashed potatoes and bacon. Once again, I tried this on one of my first visits and decided it simply was not to my taste. However, I know many people really like it.
We plan to visit the El Cajon and Encinitas locations in the near future. I like to try a place at least 10 times before declaring it the absolute best. However, I can say that a URBN Pizza large red sauce with one or two toppings is close to being my favorite in all of San Diego.
To see our full list of top pizza places go here.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2019
URBN made our San Diego’s Best NY-Style Pizza list (aka thin crust which also includes New Haven)