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Pretty impressive eating arrangements at USD (University of San Diego), the Catholic university on the hill (5998 Alcalá Park, Linda Vista), and the good news is their eateries are open to the rest of us.

Not cheap-cheap, but decently-priced. And variety? At Pavilion Dining, they have mini-restaurants serving everything from salmon steaks (at “Tapenade”), Vietnamese (“Lemon Grass”), Mexican (“Maiz”), burgers (“Sea Salt Grill”), sushi (“Nori Now”), Chinese wok cooking (“Mu Shu”), to two salad bars (“Chive”), a soup station (“Bay Leaf”) and the place where all the hullabaloo is coming from: Mickey’s pizza counter, officially known as “Heirloom Cucina.”

Mickey Gonzalez, the chef with the New Yawk-size voice, hustles up a storm of business, mainly for “piadines,” which look like a pizza pie crust with a pile of lettuce on top (but there’s more stuff in it. Cost, $6.95 without meat, $7.25 with).

“I sell three piadines for every pizza I make,” he says.

Uh, piadines? New idea?

“Not exactly. Dates back to Byzantium,” says Mickey.

The other kicker: The “Secret Ingredient,” at the “Live-Action Cooking Station.” Each day, a surprise dish. You only find out what it is by going on Twitter or visiting www.sandiego.edu/dining at midday for lunch, or five o’clock for dinner. Or, duh, actually turning up.

’Course I tried calling in the morning to get a heads-up.

“If I told you,” said the voice, “I’d have to kill you.”

More in next week's Tin Fork.


Mickey Gonzalez, in action


USD's Student Life Pavilion building where Pavilion Dining is located.

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