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Mastiff Kitchen adds to its sausage legacy in La Mesa

Because there’s no better use of sausage than sitting on a pizza with peppers or mushrooms

There's more than sausage at Mastiff's first standalone location
There's more than sausage at Mastiff's first standalone location

It has been ten years since a food truck hit the road with a small yet memorable menu of made-from-scratch sausages. In the time since, Mastiff Sausage Company has gone on quite a roll (pun intended). The homegrown business has made a couple noteworthy stops, establishing fixtures within the Liberty Public Market and North Park Beer Company, but I get the feeling Mastiff’s new, standalone La Mesa restaurant has always been the goal.

Place

Mastiff Kitchen La Mesa

4253 Palm Ave, La Mesa

Mastiff Kitchen La Mesa takes over what has for many years been home to the gastropub, Craft Kitchen, and plenty here will be familiar to regular diners, from the long line of craft beer tap handles behind the counter, to returning staff. Of course, now there’s Mastiff’s jowly dog’s head logo gazing back as you walk in, and house-made sausage on the menu.

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There’s actually much more than that, but I’ll pause just a moment to appreciate the sausage. You’ll dine happily whether you go for the signature bratwurst, andouille, chicken apple, or any other option available. I most recently dug into hatch chili and cheese.

Hatch chili and jack cheese sausage, made by Mastiff Sausage Company

Rather than order one a la cart ($7), or three to a platter ($22), I recommend going with a sandwich ($12), because from the soft, fresh roll to the whole grain mustard to the caraway seeds in the refreshing house sauerkraut, this thing’s engineered to tickle every corner of your mouth.

Expect bold flavors, not only from the sausage, but all the way down the menu, including salads. I checked out a chopped kale salad (K.A.C., $13), dressed with tahini and balsamic to go with avocado and toasted chickpeas. Even this proved hearty and savory, at least compared to the bland salad afterthoughts of most pubs.

Mastiff Kitchen La Mesa, formerly the location of Craft Kitchen

No one should be surprised by anything at this point, but it’s not just salads for the veggie set: Mastiff kitchen goes so far as to offer vegetarian versions of both its sausage sandwich and smashburger, too.

But where this new edition of Mastiff Kitchen is truly poised to win La Mesa hearts and minds is the pizza menu. I’ve encountered all of the above at other Mastiff locations, and none of it forecast a mastery of pizza was on the horizon. But it may be the best thing Mastiff has done yet.

They don’t call it Detroit style pizza, but that’s clearly the starting reference point for what comes out of the oven: a small, yet deeply thick rectangle of Foccacia, burnished at the edges by a crust of pan-crisped cheese.

The "Mush Love" mushroom and fennel sausage pizza

Like the other offerings, the base pizza gets stacked with flavor: garlic, tomato, parmesan, and whatever you decide to put on it. You can always go with pepperoni, or get weird with broccolini, or chicken and bacon. But it occurs to me that if you’re going to order pizza from a sausage maker, you pretty much have to get sausage and mushrooms, or at least sausage and peppers. Both are on the menu for $20, and I can testify to the quality of the former, a.k.a. the “Mush love,” topped with thick crumbles of the house fennel sausage.

Every robust bite won me over, but one in particular stands out. When I got to the doubly crispy back corner of my last slice, fate would have it that both a piece of sausage and mushroom huddled together within a nook of the charred cheese. The culmination of flavors and textures into a single bite sent my eyes spinning like slot machine wheels. Maybe the best ever last bite of pizza. Here’s to ten more years of this.

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There's more than sausage at Mastiff's first standalone location
There's more than sausage at Mastiff's first standalone location

It has been ten years since a food truck hit the road with a small yet memorable menu of made-from-scratch sausages. In the time since, Mastiff Sausage Company has gone on quite a roll (pun intended). The homegrown business has made a couple noteworthy stops, establishing fixtures within the Liberty Public Market and North Park Beer Company, but I get the feeling Mastiff’s new, standalone La Mesa restaurant has always been the goal.

Place

Mastiff Kitchen La Mesa

4253 Palm Ave, La Mesa

Mastiff Kitchen La Mesa takes over what has for many years been home to the gastropub, Craft Kitchen, and plenty here will be familiar to regular diners, from the long line of craft beer tap handles behind the counter, to returning staff. Of course, now there’s Mastiff’s jowly dog’s head logo gazing back as you walk in, and house-made sausage on the menu.

Sponsored
Sponsored

There’s actually much more than that, but I’ll pause just a moment to appreciate the sausage. You’ll dine happily whether you go for the signature bratwurst, andouille, chicken apple, or any other option available. I most recently dug into hatch chili and cheese.

Hatch chili and jack cheese sausage, made by Mastiff Sausage Company

Rather than order one a la cart ($7), or three to a platter ($22), I recommend going with a sandwich ($12), because from the soft, fresh roll to the whole grain mustard to the caraway seeds in the refreshing house sauerkraut, this thing’s engineered to tickle every corner of your mouth.

Expect bold flavors, not only from the sausage, but all the way down the menu, including salads. I checked out a chopped kale salad (K.A.C., $13), dressed with tahini and balsamic to go with avocado and toasted chickpeas. Even this proved hearty and savory, at least compared to the bland salad afterthoughts of most pubs.

Mastiff Kitchen La Mesa, formerly the location of Craft Kitchen

No one should be surprised by anything at this point, but it’s not just salads for the veggie set: Mastiff kitchen goes so far as to offer vegetarian versions of both its sausage sandwich and smashburger, too.

But where this new edition of Mastiff Kitchen is truly poised to win La Mesa hearts and minds is the pizza menu. I’ve encountered all of the above at other Mastiff locations, and none of it forecast a mastery of pizza was on the horizon. But it may be the best thing Mastiff has done yet.

They don’t call it Detroit style pizza, but that’s clearly the starting reference point for what comes out of the oven: a small, yet deeply thick rectangle of Foccacia, burnished at the edges by a crust of pan-crisped cheese.

The "Mush Love" mushroom and fennel sausage pizza

Like the other offerings, the base pizza gets stacked with flavor: garlic, tomato, parmesan, and whatever you decide to put on it. You can always go with pepperoni, or get weird with broccolini, or chicken and bacon. But it occurs to me that if you’re going to order pizza from a sausage maker, you pretty much have to get sausage and mushrooms, or at least sausage and peppers. Both are on the menu for $20, and I can testify to the quality of the former, a.k.a. the “Mush love,” topped with thick crumbles of the house fennel sausage.

Every robust bite won me over, but one in particular stands out. When I got to the doubly crispy back corner of my last slice, fate would have it that both a piece of sausage and mushroom huddled together within a nook of the charred cheese. The culmination of flavors and textures into a single bite sent my eyes spinning like slot machine wheels. Maybe the best ever last bite of pizza. Here’s to ten more years of this.

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The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

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