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It’s suggested that this pizza might consume your senses

Not-so-simple pies, cooked at 700 degrees on white oak

I don’t know if it’s fair to judge a neighborhood on the quality of its neighborhood pizza joint, but I have to think it’s fair to judge a pizza joint on the quality of its neighborhood. For example, Wheat & Water recently opened in Bird Rock, La Jolla, where median home sales are just shy of two million, and median rent exceeds four grand a month.

Despite its declared intention, Wheat & Water skips right past simplicity

Mediocre pizza shouldn’t fly in Bird Rock, and a pizzeria good enough to thrive in nearby Pacific Beach should rightly be run out of town.

The name Wheat & Water makes it sound like the food here is going to be simple, even austere, but I didn’t find that to be the case. While the menu even claims “we like to keep it simple,” it immediately goes on to describe a blend of imported flours that goes into the pizza dough, which is then fired in a wood oven fueled to 700 degrees by white oak.

The pizza selection also belies simplicity, with topping combinations featuring the likes of béchamel, grilled pears, roasted shishito peppers, and braised pork shoulder in salsa verde.

Place

Wheat & Water

5737 La Jolla Boulevard, San Diego

Even The Classic pie I ordered ($17) went a little further than a typical pepperoni-and-mozzarella base to include caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers, fresh herbs, and olives. A couple of weeks later, a look at the shop’s website shows they’ve swapped out olives for mushroom duxelles — a centuries old French-style sauté of finely diced mushrooms and shallots. That’s a mouth-watering prospect.

All this on top of a sauce made from San Marzanos, the famous Neapolitan plum tomatoes that grow in volcanic soil and taste perfect on pizzas or in pastas (I’m far from the first to think so).

A lot of pizza spots make their money by scattering pepperoni or other toppings loosely across the pie and hoping you really appreciate melted cheese. The top of this pizza showed a couple small blank spots, but for the most part it was well covered. Given the flavorful toppings involved, this meant each bite packed a lot more taste to back up the pepperoni — aromatic oregano, briny olives, and a base of garlic balanced by sweet though not-too-bright tomato and bell pepper.

Most of the world’s finest pizzerias accomplish amazing things by favoring premium ingredients and the simplicity of one or two toppings. Despite its declared intention, Wheat & Water skips right past simplicity, but I have zero problem with that. These and the other topping combinations I’ve tried play well together here. No one topping, not even the pepperoni, stood out, and nothing tasted out of place. Rather like listening to Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” recordings, this pizza consumes your senses.

And the 700-degree crust? Medium thickness, with a good chew to go with the hint of char and smoke. If I can fault Wheat & Water for anything, it’s that it’s 20 minutes away from me in a neighborhood I’ll never afford.

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The Classic has a regular pepperoni-and-mozzarella base plus caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers, fresh herbs, and olives.
The Classic has a regular pepperoni-and-mozzarella base plus caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers, fresh herbs, and olives.

I don’t know if it’s fair to judge a neighborhood on the quality of its neighborhood pizza joint, but I have to think it’s fair to judge a pizza joint on the quality of its neighborhood. For example, Wheat & Water recently opened in Bird Rock, La Jolla, where median home sales are just shy of two million, and median rent exceeds four grand a month.

Despite its declared intention, Wheat & Water skips right past simplicity

Mediocre pizza shouldn’t fly in Bird Rock, and a pizzeria good enough to thrive in nearby Pacific Beach should rightly be run out of town.

The name Wheat & Water makes it sound like the food here is going to be simple, even austere, but I didn’t find that to be the case. While the menu even claims “we like to keep it simple,” it immediately goes on to describe a blend of imported flours that goes into the pizza dough, which is then fired in a wood oven fueled to 700 degrees by white oak.

The pizza selection also belies simplicity, with topping combinations featuring the likes of béchamel, grilled pears, roasted shishito peppers, and braised pork shoulder in salsa verde.

Place

Wheat & Water

5737 La Jolla Boulevard, San Diego

Even The Classic pie I ordered ($17) went a little further than a typical pepperoni-and-mozzarella base to include caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers, fresh herbs, and olives. A couple of weeks later, a look at the shop’s website shows they’ve swapped out olives for mushroom duxelles — a centuries old French-style sauté of finely diced mushrooms and shallots. That’s a mouth-watering prospect.

All this on top of a sauce made from San Marzanos, the famous Neapolitan plum tomatoes that grow in volcanic soil and taste perfect on pizzas or in pastas (I’m far from the first to think so).

A lot of pizza spots make their money by scattering pepperoni or other toppings loosely across the pie and hoping you really appreciate melted cheese. The top of this pizza showed a couple small blank spots, but for the most part it was well covered. Given the flavorful toppings involved, this meant each bite packed a lot more taste to back up the pepperoni — aromatic oregano, briny olives, and a base of garlic balanced by sweet though not-too-bright tomato and bell pepper.

Most of the world’s finest pizzerias accomplish amazing things by favoring premium ingredients and the simplicity of one or two toppings. Despite its declared intention, Wheat & Water skips right past simplicity, but I have zero problem with that. These and the other topping combinations I’ve tried play well together here. No one topping, not even the pepperoni, stood out, and nothing tasted out of place. Rather like listening to Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” recordings, this pizza consumes your senses.

And the 700-degree crust? Medium thickness, with a good chew to go with the hint of char and smoke. If I can fault Wheat & Water for anything, it’s that it’s 20 minutes away from me in a neighborhood I’ll never afford.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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