When the mood hits your eye for a big pizza pie, head for Nucci’s Pizza in San Luis Obispo.
Since 1994, Jerry and Maryanne Nucci have prided themselves on serving a menu based on fresh, quality ingredients, from the perfect cheese right down to hand-cut lettuce.
The original location was on lower Broad Street (now operated by a former general manager), and Nucci’s expanded to a second spot on Foothill Boulevard in 2000.
The Foothill space sports a sleek interior with lots of blond wood and artistic metal accents. A bar-type area that casually seats about 12 was recently installed in the front of the restaurant, along with a flat-screen television, but it’s situated to keep separate the cozy main dining area.
The heart of the Nucci’s menu remains the pizza. That starts with the dough, which is made from scratch and allowed to rise “at least overnight and usually longer,” said Jerry.
From there, each pizza is hand-tossed before it’s ready for top-notch toppings such as one of the three house-made sauces, freshly grated whole milk cheese or even the handmade sausage.
“We’re buying whole cuts of meat and grinding them here for things like the sausage, meatballs and meat sauces,” said Jerry.
“Everything we can physically make here, we do,” added general manager Joey DiGeorge. “We’re absolutely committed to quality and to our customers.”
You can certainly go for the build-your-own option at Nucci’s, but there are about 20 other pizzas to consider.
Among the favorites are the barbecue chicken with red onions and cilantro, or the vegetarian North Beach with spinach, tomatoes, pesto, and both mozzarella and feta cheeses.
Though all the pizzas are available with a thin crust, four designated 12-inch versions do especially well with that approach, such as the classic Margherita.
As much as its pizzas have put Nucci’s on the map, other menu standouts range from freshly baked breadsticks to spaghetti with slow-simmered marinara to a sandwich made with in-house roasted turkey on house-made focaccia.
The restaurant also offers several signature salads — particularly the raspberry salad with sliced apples, crunchy glazed walnuts, blue cheese chunks and an addictive fresh raspberry vinaigrette. Nucci’s no longer bottles its dressing for sale, but if you bring your own container, they’ll sell it for 50 cents an ounce.
Though the Nucci’s menu hasn’t changed a lot over the years, some popular new additions include crusted parmesan chicken that’s available on salads or as an appetizer, and pasta dishes like lasagna and mac ’n’ cheese that are baked in the pizza oven.
Another new twist to the Nucci’s lineup is its pair of house keg wines, crafted locally by award-winning label Stephen Ross Wine Cellars.
Though the Nuccis stumbled upon the idea, it’s emerging in other wine regions as one of the latest trends in beverage service.
Based on the principles of going green and supporting local wine producers, the approach offers several win-win aspects for both winemakers and restaurants, mainly in terms of less packaging and handling, and — because the keg keeps wine fresh until the last drop — there’s minimal wasted product.
Of course, this being Nucci’s and Stephen Ross, rest assured you will be getting high quality.
The two wines are a Chardonnay from Oliver’s Vineyard in Edna Valley and a Zinfandel from the Dante Dusi Vineyard in Paso Robles. Pair a glass with a hand-tossed pizza pie — now that’s amore!