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Restaurant chain thrives; owner’s flagship dies

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza vs. Roppongi

Mediterranean Appetizer Plate with hummus, baba ganoush, and Lebanese cheese
Mediterranean Appetizer Plate with hummus, baba ganoush, and Lebanese cheese
Place

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza La Mesa

8555 Fletcher Parkway, San Diego

When I heard that Roppongi in La Jolla was closing down after 17 years, I wasn’t surprised. Owner Sami Ladeki said the restaurant’s closure was due to changing neighborhood tastes.

I always liked Roppongi and considered it a destination when my wife and I were dining in La Jolla. We ate there in October a couple of weeks before the closure was announced. While we didn’t have a bad meal, it was just “meh,” especially considering the La Jolla upcharge and the great meals we had eaten there previously. This time my wife remarked, “It was okay, but I think I would have rather eaten at Sammy’s.”

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza in La Mesa
Sammy’s interior
Red Quinoa Salad
Margherita (ordered without cheese)
Bacon and Leek pizza
Mini donuts, ready for some sauce

That’s Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill, a successful chain also owned by Sami Ladeki with 16 locations from here to Las Vegas. The prices are cheaper than at Roppongi, and this time around the Sammy’s meal was better. The main reason is that Sammy’s has good options for vegans or, in my wife’s case, vegetarians who don’t eat dairy but do eat eggs.

The Red Quinoa Salad ($12.50) is a good example, a colorful mashup of golden beets, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, wild arugula, parsley, almonds, mint, scallions, and the aforementioned quinoa along with a citrus chili vinaigrette. I will never give up meat, but the spicy tangy dressing coats the veggies and quinoa just right and makes for a flavorful dish that feeds one person nicely.

My wife and I also split the Mediterranean Appetizer Plate ($10). It comes with hummus, baba ganoush, and a dish that features a Lebanese cheese with za’atar, a mix of Middle Eastern herbs and spices such as oregano. It comes with grilled herb flatbread or, my preference, these seasoned crackers that are slightly salty and less filling than the bread.

For dinner, my wife got a Margherita pizza with tomatoes, roasted garlic sauce, and basil ($12). She was happy because it’s hard for her to get a decent pizza without cheese. I thought it was alright, but I only had one bite when it was hot. I ate some cold slices the next day, and it was a little soggy — something I’ve noticed with non-cheese pizzas when they’re cold.

I was happy with the Bacon and Leek Pizza, a specialty item ($13). The smokiness of the bacon blended well with the earthiness of the leeks and the mozzarella. It was just as tasty the next day right out of the fridge.

For dessert we tried the house-made mini donuts served with raspberry and chocolate sauce ($6.50). They were crispy and fluffy and, when dipped in the syrups, made a nice end to the meal that harked back to churros my wife and I used to eat in Spain when we were first dating.

Ladeki said he may reopen Roppongi. I hope he does. But my wife and I can always find something that hits the spot at Sammy’s.

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Mediterranean Appetizer Plate with hummus, baba ganoush, and Lebanese cheese
Mediterranean Appetizer Plate with hummus, baba ganoush, and Lebanese cheese
Place

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza La Mesa

8555 Fletcher Parkway, San Diego

When I heard that Roppongi in La Jolla was closing down after 17 years, I wasn’t surprised. Owner Sami Ladeki said the restaurant’s closure was due to changing neighborhood tastes.

I always liked Roppongi and considered it a destination when my wife and I were dining in La Jolla. We ate there in October a couple of weeks before the closure was announced. While we didn’t have a bad meal, it was just “meh,” especially considering the La Jolla upcharge and the great meals we had eaten there previously. This time my wife remarked, “It was okay, but I think I would have rather eaten at Sammy’s.”

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza in La Mesa
Sammy’s interior
Red Quinoa Salad
Margherita (ordered without cheese)
Bacon and Leek pizza
Mini donuts, ready for some sauce

That’s Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill, a successful chain also owned by Sami Ladeki with 16 locations from here to Las Vegas. The prices are cheaper than at Roppongi, and this time around the Sammy’s meal was better. The main reason is that Sammy’s has good options for vegans or, in my wife’s case, vegetarians who don’t eat dairy but do eat eggs.

The Red Quinoa Salad ($12.50) is a good example, a colorful mashup of golden beets, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, wild arugula, parsley, almonds, mint, scallions, and the aforementioned quinoa along with a citrus chili vinaigrette. I will never give up meat, but the spicy tangy dressing coats the veggies and quinoa just right and makes for a flavorful dish that feeds one person nicely.

My wife and I also split the Mediterranean Appetizer Plate ($10). It comes with hummus, baba ganoush, and a dish that features a Lebanese cheese with za’atar, a mix of Middle Eastern herbs and spices such as oregano. It comes with grilled herb flatbread or, my preference, these seasoned crackers that are slightly salty and less filling than the bread.

For dinner, my wife got a Margherita pizza with tomatoes, roasted garlic sauce, and basil ($12). She was happy because it’s hard for her to get a decent pizza without cheese. I thought it was alright, but I only had one bite when it was hot. I ate some cold slices the next day, and it was a little soggy — something I’ve noticed with non-cheese pizzas when they’re cold.

I was happy with the Bacon and Leek Pizza, a specialty item ($13). The smokiness of the bacon blended well with the earthiness of the leeks and the mozzarella. It was just as tasty the next day right out of the fridge.

For dessert we tried the house-made mini donuts served with raspberry and chocolate sauce ($6.50). They were crispy and fluffy and, when dipped in the syrups, made a nice end to the meal that harked back to churros my wife and I used to eat in Spain when we were first dating.

Ladeki said he may reopen Roppongi. I hope he does. But my wife and I can always find something that hits the spot at Sammy’s.

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Comments
2

Sammy Ladeki closed Roppongi shortly after a "kitchen fire" closed his Sammy's Woodfired Pizza, also located in La Jolla. The latter still has not reopened. Seems fishy to me....

Dec. 8, 2015

It's called Jewish Lightning.

Dec. 8, 2015

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