Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

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

Ed Bedford gorges on Gaetano’s before taking off

Soppressata makes the pizza special

As airline meals go, Fiji’s are impressive, but don’t compare to Gaetano’s
As airline meals go, Fiji’s are impressive, but don’t compare to Gaetano’s

Five minutes to midnight. The plane starts backing out. At last. It’s gonna be a 16-hour haul, and I’m already hongry. Just spent three hours at Wolfgang Puck’s WPizza bar in LAX, waiting for this Fiji Airways flight. The WPizza cook was flinging pizzas around hand over fist, but I was trying to save every penny. I’d bought a ticket from LA to New Zealand for $684. Desperate to see my true love, Diane. That just about busted what I laughingly call my bank account. Can’t afford no extras. So yes. I’m depending on the two free meals you’re supposed to get on board on the overnight from LA to Nadi, Fiji. And then another brekky on the next leg to Christchurch (four more hours). Except our first meal-in-the-sky won’t happen until an hour or so after takeoff. So — and this was a surprisingly good airport deal — I got me a $3.99 coffee to sit on for three hours at WPizza while I waited for the boarding call. Francisco Vasquez, who was running the bar, was kind. He didn’t hassle me to buy more, just let me be tempted by the smell of the pizzas his energetic lady coworker kept kneading, stretching, topping and sliding into the pizza oven right there in front of me. Man, how I longed for a Wolfgang Puck pizza.

Restaurant in the sky. For food at 30,000 feet, pretty good

And yet, have to admit, I had already eaten pizza earlier in the day, and the ones I saw coming out of Puck’s oven could in no way compare to the totally indulgent pizza my friend Tim brought over to my place while I was packing this morning. It was a mess. I was a mess. And this plane deadline was rushing up on me. No time for coffee breaks or nosh. 

Except Tim hadn’t read that script. “Stop what you’re doing!” he said, dropping this box on the outside table at Possum Cottage where I live (so called because Ms. Possum, who lives on the roof, once visited me with seven little baby possums clinging to her back). Then he hauled out a large frosty bottle of golden Modelo beer. “Number one beer sold in America, son! Bigger’n Bud! And it’s Mexican!” (Turns out he’s right about this.) Then he yanked open the lid on the table-size pizza box. “Ta-dah! Number one pizza in ’Diego, I swear.” 

Turns out it came from Gaetano’s, a place near Tim’s home base in Spring Valley. We set to while it was hot, ripping out steamy, cheesy, olivey, shroomy wedges bulging with different sausage-laden quadrants, and chomping our way back from the rich, floppy pointy ends. What I saw, of course, was the tons of cheese, the red and the green peppers, the onions, the usual suspects. But Tim said this one had something special. 

“Thing about this pizza that I love,” he said, “is the different meats they put into it. Specially the soppressata.” 

“Sopra…Say what?”  

“Soppressata, dude. I asked them to put in extra meats. You’re going away to visit the land of milk and honey and nuts and twigs. So, I want you to take this taste of a real pizza before you go. Ergo, soppressata!”

Francisco Vasquez stands in front of the Puck pizza oven. Good business!

I may be the only person in da world who doesn’t know this, but come to learn soppressata is a salted pork sausage, kinda like salami, but different. Sorta chorizo, but softer, like ’Nduja, except ’Nduja usually has way better fat-to-lean muscle tissue ratio, like, a lot more fat, so a lot more softness. This soppressata, says Tim, is from Calabria, which is down at the toe of Italy, right next to Sicily. 

Sausages like ’Nduja — it’s a Calabrian word; Pronounce it like the French “andouille” — were always the poor folks’ sausage, made up of leftovers and bits and pieces of meat squashed together with a lot of spices to act as preservatives and to heat up and flavorize the meat. The result: a spreadable sausage people could have with bread and cheese and wine. Basically soppressata, which is what we have in ours, but softer, because so much more of it is fat.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Enough about ’Nduja. Its cousin the soppressata is the dee-lish part of this pizza. “I asked them to put more meat in here,” said Tim, “and Lordy, they came to the party.” He spoke the truth. We sat among the boxes, scarfing this uber-rich pizza and downing America’s most popular beer, which happened to be Mexican. 

In all seriousness, the pizza actually was one of the best I can remember. “This was the Gaetano Special,” Tim said. “Cost me $23.10. Plus I tossed in the extra for more meat.”

Look closely and find the soppressata, pressed meat that make this special

They have plenty of other pizzas, and plenty of non-pizza items that are not too heavy on the wallet. Your basic 12-inch cheese pizza goes for $13.20, or $16.45 for the 20-inch. With, say, three regular toppings, it’d be $16.45 and $21.45. The al pesto pizza with gorgonzola and mozzarella costs $17.95 and $21.95. The clams and garlic pizza runs $18.65 and $23.10. Also good news: they do “pizzettas,” 9-inch pies that run between $10.95 and 11.95. Shellfish like cozze al vapor (steamed mussels sautéed in white wine) are $14.25. A Mediterranean salad with goat cheese and olives runs $10.95. So yeah, very trad, but in my book, when it’s Italian, trad is good. 

Time was flying. We glomped two slices each of that magnificent pie — way too much — Tim packed the rest to take home, and I was back into the packing nightmare. I toasted him with the last of the Modelo. “You look funny,” I said, “but you’re the real thing.”

“Stop,” he said. “I can take anything but sincerity.”

That was eight long hours ago. Now, the jets are rising to a take-off thunder below my seat, and my mind jets forward to the next meal. Q: What do you eat at 30,000 feet? A: Anything but pizza.

The Place: Gaetano’s Italian Restaurant, 10025 Campo Road, Spring Valley, tel 670-3555

Hours: 11am - 9pm daily (4pm - 9pm Monday, closed Sunday)

Prices: 12-inch cheese pizza, $13.20, 20-inch, $16.45; with three regular toppings, $16.45 and $21.45; al pesto pizza with gorgonzola and mozzarella, $17.95 and $21.95; clams and garlic pizza, $18.65 and $23.10; “pizzettas,” 9-inch pies, $10.95 - 11.95; cozze al vapor (steamed mussels sautéed in white wine), $14.25; Mediterranean salad with goat cheese and olives, $10.95. 

Buses: 851, 856

Nearest Bus Stop: Jamacha Blvd, Kempton Street

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Two breweries, two hops, one beer

Each version of Soo Breezy is available at TapRoom and Original 40
As airline meals go, Fiji’s are impressive, but don’t compare to Gaetano’s
As airline meals go, Fiji’s are impressive, but don’t compare to Gaetano’s

Five minutes to midnight. The plane starts backing out. At last. It’s gonna be a 16-hour haul, and I’m already hongry. Just spent three hours at Wolfgang Puck’s WPizza bar in LAX, waiting for this Fiji Airways flight. The WPizza cook was flinging pizzas around hand over fist, but I was trying to save every penny. I’d bought a ticket from LA to New Zealand for $684. Desperate to see my true love, Diane. That just about busted what I laughingly call my bank account. Can’t afford no extras. So yes. I’m depending on the two free meals you’re supposed to get on board on the overnight from LA to Nadi, Fiji. And then another brekky on the next leg to Christchurch (four more hours). Except our first meal-in-the-sky won’t happen until an hour or so after takeoff. So — and this was a surprisingly good airport deal — I got me a $3.99 coffee to sit on for three hours at WPizza while I waited for the boarding call. Francisco Vasquez, who was running the bar, was kind. He didn’t hassle me to buy more, just let me be tempted by the smell of the pizzas his energetic lady coworker kept kneading, stretching, topping and sliding into the pizza oven right there in front of me. Man, how I longed for a Wolfgang Puck pizza.

Restaurant in the sky. For food at 30,000 feet, pretty good

And yet, have to admit, I had already eaten pizza earlier in the day, and the ones I saw coming out of Puck’s oven could in no way compare to the totally indulgent pizza my friend Tim brought over to my place while I was packing this morning. It was a mess. I was a mess. And this plane deadline was rushing up on me. No time for coffee breaks or nosh. 

Except Tim hadn’t read that script. “Stop what you’re doing!” he said, dropping this box on the outside table at Possum Cottage where I live (so called because Ms. Possum, who lives on the roof, once visited me with seven little baby possums clinging to her back). Then he hauled out a large frosty bottle of golden Modelo beer. “Number one beer sold in America, son! Bigger’n Bud! And it’s Mexican!” (Turns out he’s right about this.) Then he yanked open the lid on the table-size pizza box. “Ta-dah! Number one pizza in ’Diego, I swear.” 

Turns out it came from Gaetano’s, a place near Tim’s home base in Spring Valley. We set to while it was hot, ripping out steamy, cheesy, olivey, shroomy wedges bulging with different sausage-laden quadrants, and chomping our way back from the rich, floppy pointy ends. What I saw, of course, was the tons of cheese, the red and the green peppers, the onions, the usual suspects. But Tim said this one had something special. 

“Thing about this pizza that I love,” he said, “is the different meats they put into it. Specially the soppressata.” 

“Sopra…Say what?”  

“Soppressata, dude. I asked them to put in extra meats. You’re going away to visit the land of milk and honey and nuts and twigs. So, I want you to take this taste of a real pizza before you go. Ergo, soppressata!”

Francisco Vasquez stands in front of the Puck pizza oven. Good business!

I may be the only person in da world who doesn’t know this, but come to learn soppressata is a salted pork sausage, kinda like salami, but different. Sorta chorizo, but softer, like ’Nduja, except ’Nduja usually has way better fat-to-lean muscle tissue ratio, like, a lot more fat, so a lot more softness. This soppressata, says Tim, is from Calabria, which is down at the toe of Italy, right next to Sicily. 

Sausages like ’Nduja — it’s a Calabrian word; Pronounce it like the French “andouille” — were always the poor folks’ sausage, made up of leftovers and bits and pieces of meat squashed together with a lot of spices to act as preservatives and to heat up and flavorize the meat. The result: a spreadable sausage people could have with bread and cheese and wine. Basically soppressata, which is what we have in ours, but softer, because so much more of it is fat.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Enough about ’Nduja. Its cousin the soppressata is the dee-lish part of this pizza. “I asked them to put more meat in here,” said Tim, “and Lordy, they came to the party.” He spoke the truth. We sat among the boxes, scarfing this uber-rich pizza and downing America’s most popular beer, which happened to be Mexican. 

In all seriousness, the pizza actually was one of the best I can remember. “This was the Gaetano Special,” Tim said. “Cost me $23.10. Plus I tossed in the extra for more meat.”

Look closely and find the soppressata, pressed meat that make this special

They have plenty of other pizzas, and plenty of non-pizza items that are not too heavy on the wallet. Your basic 12-inch cheese pizza goes for $13.20, or $16.45 for the 20-inch. With, say, three regular toppings, it’d be $16.45 and $21.45. The al pesto pizza with gorgonzola and mozzarella costs $17.95 and $21.95. The clams and garlic pizza runs $18.65 and $23.10. Also good news: they do “pizzettas,” 9-inch pies that run between $10.95 and 11.95. Shellfish like cozze al vapor (steamed mussels sautéed in white wine) are $14.25. A Mediterranean salad with goat cheese and olives runs $10.95. So yeah, very trad, but in my book, when it’s Italian, trad is good. 

Time was flying. We glomped two slices each of that magnificent pie — way too much — Tim packed the rest to take home, and I was back into the packing nightmare. I toasted him with the last of the Modelo. “You look funny,” I said, “but you’re the real thing.”

“Stop,” he said. “I can take anything but sincerity.”

That was eight long hours ago. Now, the jets are rising to a take-off thunder below my seat, and my mind jets forward to the next meal. Q: What do you eat at 30,000 feet? A: Anything but pizza.

The Place: Gaetano’s Italian Restaurant, 10025 Campo Road, Spring Valley, tel 670-3555

Hours: 11am - 9pm daily (4pm - 9pm Monday, closed Sunday)

Prices: 12-inch cheese pizza, $13.20, 20-inch, $16.45; with three regular toppings, $16.45 and $21.45; al pesto pizza with gorgonzola and mozzarella, $17.95 and $21.95; clams and garlic pizza, $18.65 and $23.10; “pizzettas,” 9-inch pies, $10.95 - 11.95; cozze al vapor (steamed mussels sautéed in white wine), $14.25; Mediterranean salad with goat cheese and olives, $10.95. 

Buses: 851, 856

Nearest Bus Stop: Jamacha Blvd, Kempton Street

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Elvin Bishop vs. Stephen Bishop

A road diet defender
Next Article

Still no newspaper union at the San Diego Union-Tribune

$1.8 million in party expenses
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.