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From Italy With Love - Pizzeria Luigi Comes To Town

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2016 3:23 pm

Luigi Agostini had been planning to open a pizzeria in Imperial Beach for about five years. It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that he found the right location, the former home of IB Yoga. Since opening about a six weeks ago, the pizzeria has had a steady stream of customers who keep coming back for more.

Agostini is originally from Varese, Italy where his family owned a sandwich shop and bar and he grew up working in the business from a young age. When the family sold the business he started working at pizzerias. Eventually he moved to the United States and first lived in San Francisco, then Hawaii, Los Angeles eventually settling in San Diego. 

Over the years he worked in the restaurant business as a pizza guy, sous chef and working his way up to manager. “I wanted to open up my own place,” he explained.

He opened his first restaurant in Poway with a partner. After a few years, Agostini opened his very own Pizzeria Luigi in Golden Hill in 2004. His pizzeria was noticed by the Food Network host Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” who filmed at the restaurant while he and Agostini created two pizzas together called the Mona Lisa and the Capone which are still on the menu.

In 2009, Agostini opened his second location in North Park and in 2011 Fieri came back to film at the restaurant and he and Agostini created a new pizza, El Diablo. “The TV show changed a lot. It got so busy for about nine months I couldn’t leave the shop,” said Agostini.

He is still involved with all three restaurants and he hops from one to another to check on his employees. “This gives me a chance to interact with customers and employees,” he said. On a recent afternoon he was opening bills on one of the tables at the restaurant. “I never see myself in an office,” he explained.

Luigi’s menu offers whole pies as well as slices. Luigi Classics include the Mona Lisa, pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, mushrooms, red onion and black olives. More choices on the menu include the Capone, pepperoni, sausage and meatballs, as well as Margherita and the Leonardo made with a pesto sauce. Diners at Luigi Pizzeria can chose from ricotta pies like the Haolie, made with ham, pineapple, ricotta and sauce; and Spicy Kevi, pepperoni, ricotta, jalapeno and pineapple with no sauce. Veggie pies, wings, subs and salads and some pasta dishes are also on the menu.

Custom pies can be created as well. “My personal favorite is very boring, just cheese. You want to taste the crust, the cheese and the sauce,” he said.

Agostini said that over the years his employees have created new pizzas like the Spicy Kevo which eventually became a mainstay on the menu. Some pizzas have unusual names like the Crime Scene made with meatballs, ricotta and sauce. Veggie pies include the Raffaello made with zucchini, squash, tomato, mushroom, onion, artichoke, garlic and marinara.

Diners can chose between two types of salads -  House and Greek. Three subs are on the menu: Italian, Meatball and Veggie. More baked items include calzone, spinach roll, meatball roll and stromboli. Wings come in Honey Lizano, Sriracha IPA, Jerk Mango, Louisiana and Honey Mustard. Slices start at $2.75. Whole pies start at $17. Pizzeria Luigi always offers a special which is two slices and a soda for $7.

Agostini loves to work with food. “I have a passion to come out with something that has already been done but reinvent it, make variations. Everybody can make a pizza but not everybody can make a good pizza,” he said.

Agostini likes the location of the I.B. restaurant. “It’s casual, fast. We see skateboarders, surfers, artists,” he said of his customers. Agostini said that some customers from his Golden Hill restaurant have been coming to I.B. to eat. Some customers come from Tijuana. He tells of a couple from Vancouver who was on vacation in San Diego and went to one of his restaurants because they had seen it featured on Fieri’s show.

Agostini plans to have some outdoor seating and a bocce ball court in the dirt lot behind the building. The pizzeria will serve beer and wine as soon as the permits come through.

The pizzeria has adopted the logo of an eagle carrying a pizza pie which is also the mural depicted on the front of the building.  

Luigi Pizzeria, 717 Seacoast Drive. Call (619) 271-3477. Hours: Sun-Thurs. 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

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1 comment:

  • WErnaa posted at 3:15 am on Mon, Feb 13, 2017.

    WErnaa Posts: 1

    This too much fast food is becoming dangerous for us. We should control this and get more natural foods. Some of the points in the are great to learn for me.