• #1 by PizzaEater101 on 28 Jul 2011
  • On Saturday I went to San Diego with my friend.  My wife was with her family hanging out and I wanted to go to SD to get away for the day.  We left about 10:00 AM and it took an unusually long drive of about 3.5 hours.  Normally 2 hours but there was major traffic jams for miles upon miles.  I did know of Pizzeria Luigi in SD for a few months.  I was last in SD about 2 months ago but did not make it to the pizzeria although it was in my thoughts but my wife and I did eat at all these other great places but the pizzeria.  Well this time when I got there with my friend I was intent upon trying Pizzeria Luigi.  I love pizza but I would not drive 2 hours or this case 3.5 just for pizza but I planned on going to SD for the day and knew I was going to eat at two places, one Pizzeria Luigi and two, Anthony's Fish Grotto on the bay. 

    We were hungry when we got to SD so we went to the pizzeria.  Dollar for dollar, piece for piece, as you guessed it would be more economical to buy a whole pizza rather than by the piece and I'd have left overs and bring it home.  Well we were so hungry we polished off all but one piece.  I brought that piece home to my wife.  Honestly I wish we went by the piece so I could have tried different variations and I'd not stuff myself because after that I was full for hours and could not eat at Anthony's Fish Grotto.  It would have been a waste of money and calories to eat at Anthony's, so we decided by the evening to skip on my fave fish n chips. That sucked.  But the pizza was great so maybe that's okay.  We ordered a simple pepperoni and sausage. 

    I never had real NY Pizza simply because I've never been to NY.  But from the NY style pies I've had in the Los Angeles area I'd say this stacks up really good.  Is this better than Sbarro, or King of NY Pizza, or Mama's Brick Oven Pizza, or any other I have tried?  I don't know.  I mean all the places mentioned have great NY style pizza so I can't say that one is better than another.  I love them all.  The sauce at all these places are a bit different, all them the crust taste a bit different but they are all good.  Let's just say I'm satisfied and I'll go back again and get different slices to try the diff ones.  I should have tried the meatball pizza slice because it looked great.  I love meatballs.  There is some controversy of whether or not meatballs belong on pizza or not but I don't care I like meatballs and that pizza looked great.

    One last thing, you know how if you go to a restaurant and it's empty or close to it then beware it might not be very good?  Well this was the opposite, it was packed.  Good sign.  Also this guy in front of us in line was ordering by the slice and he had ordered 4 different types, I forgot which but 4 but he did.  Then I saw him go back and order another slice.   Then when he was done he walked by our table and he looked at the pizza on the pan and we looked and him and in a friendly way he said this pizza is great and I looked back and him and said that this is great pizza.    Also the owner who is in the video was not there that day, I figure it's the weekend and he didn't want to work on the weekend and left it to his trusted manager and staff to take care of business.

    When in San Diego try the Pizzeria Luigi.

    Please see this video.  I found out about this place on "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" -

  • #2 by norma427 on 28 Jul 2011
  • James,

    Thanks for explaining how Pizzeria Luigi’s pizza are.  They sure look and sound delicious.  :) I enjoyed watching the video and seeing how they make their dough, sauce, and toss their pizzas.  All their pizzas look really good to me.

  • #3 by PizzaEater101 on 28 Jul 2011
  • Norma, glad you liked the review.  I definately would go there again it's so good but this time I'll try by the slice even if it's not so economical compared to a whole pizza, just so I could try the different ones and so I don't over eat so I can eat my fish later at Anthony's Fish Grotto -
  • #4 by chickenparm on 28 Jul 2011
  • I remember you telling me about this place and glad you got a chance to go.The slices always cost more in the end,but then you can't sample the others.Makes it hard to decide what to do.

    What stood out best for you if you really think about it?

    I had the same problem in NY,I could never fully decide which places I liked best.It was more of like,today I'm in the mood for Antonio's Pizza,and next week I would be in the mood for Ono's or something along those lines.They were all good,just a little bit different here and there.Most of the time it was the sauce or the crust.The cheese,I could not tell them apart.I think they all used the same supplier for that.

  • #5 by PizzaEater101 on 29 Jul 2011
  • Bill, the taste of the sauce was very good.  Very flavorful.  It really stood out for me.  The crust was very good too.     Different than other pizzas but it still of course is NY style so even if there are differences in taste between the other NY pizzas I've tried that's okay because each has it's own characteristics. 
  • #6 by NYN8IVE on 19 Aug 2011
  • I've been going there since I saw that segment on DD&D a few years ago. Being an Ex NYer I tend to be picky but it certainly is as good as you're going to find in Southern California.
    Not sure which location you went to, I usually go to the one on El Cajon Blvd which is short on Atmosphere but usually not crowded.
  • #7 by PizzaEater101 on 19 Aug 2011
  • I've been going there since I saw that segment on DD&D a few years ago. Being an Ex NYer I tend to be picky but it certainly is as good as you're going to find in Southern California.
    Not sure which location you went to, I usually go to the one on El Cajon Blvd which is short on Atmosphere but usually not crowded.

    Glad to get a post from someone who goes to Luigi also.  I had no idea there were more than one location.  I looked it up before I went to SD and found the address of only one and went there.  Guess it's good though I only found one address because I went to the one that DD&D was filmed at.  I'm not sure because I'm not super familiar with SD but I think this one was near the Zoo but I might be wrong.  Did not see the owner but having more than one location explains why he was not there.  I thought it was because it was Saturday and he takes the day off but he may have been at the other location.

  • #8 by scott123 on 19 Aug 2011
  • It's a little crispier/lower hydration than what I prefer, but, as far as NY style pizza outside of NY goes, that's one of the best looking pies I've seen.  The thickness factor and diameter- perfect.

    The whole Milan thing is a little silly, though. They don't make pizza like that in Milan. I think they're trying to give this guy some mystique, when it's blatantly obvious that he worked for a while in a NY pizzeria, 'borrowed' their technique and then moved to SoCal.

    The flour bag says 'Pe', so I can only assume this is Pendleton.  Anyone here recognize the kind of Pendleton he's using?
    • scott123
  • #9 by scott123 on 19 Aug 2011
  • Also, if any members here go there any time soon, I'd appreciate it if they could get a bake time for a plain cheese pie.
    • scott123
  • #10 by chickenparm on 19 Aug 2011
  • Any idea what the hydration is for their doughs?
  • #11 by scott123 on 20 Aug 2011
  • Any idea what the hydration is for their doughs?

    That red writing on the bag would make it either Power flour (13.5%) or Mondako (11.9%),  unless someone chimes in who recognizes it, my money is on Power flour.  Based upon the almost complete lack of tackiness of his dough and the amount of exertion it takes for him to open it up, I would say that his hydration is no more than the rated absorption value. For Power flour, that's 65%. My best guess would be 64-65.  If it's Mondako, with a rated absorption value of 63, then I'd say 62-63.  My money is on Power flour at 65.

    I was also going to say that this looks like a typical same day dough, but when they open the proofing box, I'm seeing shiny wet condensation on the dough. I think. You don't normally see condensation on same day, room temperature doughs.  At least, not to my knowledge.

    Oh, and if anyone's interested, 18 oz. translates into a .070" thickness factor. This is what thin crust/NY style pizza should be. .070" x 18"- nothing touches it.
    • scott123
  • #12 by scott123 on 20 Aug 2011
  • Update, I went through the video again and got a screenshot of part of the lettering on the side of the bag.

    I think we can all agree that there's an E there.  And it looks a lot like the lower half of a W.  Pendleton does sell a 'Pizza Blend', which, I'm told, is pretty much the same as Mondako, but I don't think the lettering is 'BLEND.' I'm going with the WE of POWER.
    • scott123
  • #13 by Pete-zza on 20 Aug 2011
  • scott123,

    I believe that you are correct that the flour that Luigi uses is Pendleton flour. At first I wondered how you were so certain of that especially since the Pendleton website, at, shows the labeling on their flour bags in block format, not cursive script. I then recalled that I had an old technical bulletin that was sent to me by Pendleton several years ago, in September, 2004, when I last researched the Pendleton flours, that showed the labeling on their flour bags in cursive script, with the highly stylized “P” at the beginning of its name. That document is an earlier version of the new Technical Bulletin that is accessible at the Pendleton website at I also recalled that in the early part of this year, about a year or so after the Pizzeria Luigi You Tube video () was posted (November, 2009), Pendleton did a makeover in which it changed its image and name. For details, see the press release at The new technical bulletin referenced above shows the new image and name change.

    As between the three Pendleton flours that you mentioned, I am inclined to go with the Power flour. At 13.5% protein, Pendleton itself considers that flour to be a high gluten flour and, in the video, Guy Fieri mentions that the flour is a high gluten flour. By contrast, the Mondako flour has a protein content of 11.9%. To me, that is more in line with a bread flour but there are some who might consider such a flour to be a “high gluten” flour. Although the Mondako Pizza Mix is a very popular blend among pizza operators in California, I would rule it out simply because it is a pizza mix that only requires the addition of water ( Also, at 12% protein, I would not consider it to be a high gluten flour.

    On the assumption that Luigi is using the Pendleton Power flour, I would agree with you that a hydration value of around 65% is a plausible number.

    With respect to the dough balls made at Pizzeria Luigi, you might take a look at the “Gallery of Photos for Pizzeria Luigi- Golden Hill” at the Pizzeria Luigi website at In the fourth set of photos, you will see three dough balls in a dough box. Moreover, if you continue on to the sixth set of photos, you will see cans of Stanislaus Full-Red Extra Heavy Tomato Puree (for details, see While you are at it, you might also want to take a look at the fourth photo at the yelp website at, where you will see another image of dough balls (, along with cans of Stanislaus 7/11 Ground Tomatoes ( Presumably, one or both of the Stanislaus tomato products is used to make the pizza sauce shown in the video.

    From what I can tell from the video, the only ingredients used to make Luigi’s dough are flour (high gluten), bottled water, active dry yeast (not a great deal that I can see), sugar (a small amount that goes into the mixer bowl after the yeast is dissolved in the water), and salt. Apparently there is no oil. What we don't know is the method of fermentation and its duration. Knowing that information should allow one to calculate an amount of ADY to use, taking into account the fact that the ADY is not rehydrated optimally when using room temperature water.

    You might also have noticed from the Pizzeria Luigi website that the FoodNetwork has a recipe for the Mona Lisa pizza that is featured toward the end of the video. That recipe, at, is presumably for the ordinary home pizza maker who does not have access to high gluten flour but has access to all-purpose flour. Apart from the fact that the recipe calls for two whole packets of ADY (one for each pizza), I wondered how the reviewers of the recipe coped with the fact that 1 ˝ cups of water (warm) for 3 ˝ cups of all-purpose flour yields a hydration of around 80%. However, I saw no complaints on that score. What may be most useful from the recipe, however, is the amount of sauce and cheese for each pizza. Also, the cheese is specified as being whole milk mozzarella cheese. In various photos I looked at, I saw that Luigi uses Polly-O ricotta cheese but did not find mention anywhere of the brand and type of mozzarella cheese. Absent resolution of this issue, I would tend to go with the whole milk mozzarella cheese. The FoodNetwork Mona Lisa recipe also correctly identifies the ingredients that go into the sauce. So the recipe does appear to have some credible information in relation to what the video shows.

  • #14 by scott123 on 20 Aug 2011
  • Peter, thanks, that's a big help. I was not aware that the Pizza Blend I've been seeing references to is a just-add-water mix.  And, yes, Guy Fieri did say "high gluten."  With his diminished intellect ;), he would probably never say "high gluten" unless he wasn't reading it off the bag in front of him. So I think the case is closed on the Luigi flour mystery.

    80% hydration and two whole packets of yeast... Yup, that's the food network for you.  I'm wondering if he gave them his recipe and they modified it or if he modified it before handing it in. It could be him.  As much as Luigi makes an amazing pizza, I don't think he completely understands it.  The comments about the water, the blank look he gives Guy Fieri when Guy talks about the time it takes for the flavors of the herbs to come out in the sauce, the, imo, kind of silly hand mixing- the pizza may be his sole creation, or... he might be mimicing someone else. I'm wondering if Luigi's has any kind of consistency issues, like when the weather is warmer or cooler.  People who understand pizza (like Brian Spangler) can usually adapt to curve balls better than those that don't.

    The topping ratios (and ingredients) feel like they are unmodified.  14 oz. of sauce is LOT of sauce. In theory, it could be two 7 oz. ladles worth, but they may not be calculating the amount of sauce that sticks to the ladle between dispenses. It's also heavy on the cheese.  I've been slowly increasing my cheese to a point where I thought I was pushing the envelope, only to see Luigi use about 10% more cheese than I'm using. I think he can get away with that much cheese because of the thin thickness factor.  If I go that high, my cheese doesn't bubble and melt sufficiently and there's nothing more than I hate than marginally melted cheese.

    Speaking of cheese, does anyone recognize that electric cheese grater? Me want.

    As I watch the videos over and over again, there's a couple things that are bothering me a bit.  Nothing that would prevent me from going there if I were in the area, just little stuff. First off, if he's going to have hair that long (it's now apparently even longer), he's got to have a hat or a net. Secondly, I applaud, to an extent, his copious selection of topping combinations, but it's obviously that some combos sell better than others and that some of those slices in the case look more than a little long in the tooth. He really needs to make slice pies of only his best selling stuff and, if people want a special combo, then it has to be ordered as a whole pie. And I don't know if that case is refrigerated, but, if it is, it shouldn't be, as refrigeration accelerates staling in freshly made bread.

    I have to be honest, watching this video over and over again is a little frustating. I can make this pizza, but I can't, right now, go out and buy this pizza (and I want this pizza right now ;) ).  I've covered a lot of ground and it doesn't seem like there are a lot of places West of the Hudson that put out this kind of pie.  My gut tells me they exist, I just can't find them.   For all intents and purposes, this is about as traditional as you can get for NY style, but NY style, in the NY area, has, unfortunately, taken a turn for the worse in recent years, and the places that still put out great pies aren't getting a lot of word of mouth because of the Neapolitan craze. In other words, until I can get a chance to make my own pizza, I'm kind of dying here  ;D
    • scott123
  • #15 by Pete-zza on 20 Aug 2011
  • scott123,

    I tried to find a calligraphy type of font for the letter P in Pendleton and the closest I could find is the stylized P shown at I didn't mention it earlier, but the word Pendleton on the flour bag is in an oval just like you can see in your earlier photo. I am pretty sure the flour is a Pendleton flour.

    To be clear, the amount of sauce and cheese in the FoodNetwork recipe is for two pizzas. So, the sauce for a single pizza would be seven ounces and the cheese would be 6.5 ounces. Of course, the numbers could be different for a pizza with few or no toppings.

  • #16 by scott123 on 20 Aug 2011
  • Peter, I may be wrong about this, but it looks like the toppings are for one batch of dough, as the list starts off with one single portion of 18 oz. dough.

    Btw, have you noticed how the recipe tells you to divide it into two 18 oz. doughs? There isn't 36 oz. in the recipe  :)

    Here's an image of the pre-2011 Pendleton Power Flour design
    • scott123
  • #17 by Pete-zza on 21 Aug 2011
  • scott123,

    The cursive "Pendleton" that is shown in the photo of the flour bag is the same as in my old copy of the Pendleton Technical Bulletin even though the overall text on the bags is different in my booklet. BTW, I notice in the photo that you showed that the ingredients for the Power flour are listed. I see Enzyme but I cannot tell if there is any barley malt added (I can't read the rest of the line after Niacin).

    You are correct about the FoodNetwork recipe. What threw me off was the amount of pizza sauce, 14 ounces. And I should have known that 6.5 ounces of mozzarella cheese would be too little for an 18" pizza. According to the Burke portion guide reproduced at Reply 4 at,14822.msg147190.html#msg147190, middle-of-the-road quantities for an 18" pizza would be 8.25 ounces of pizza sauce and 12 ounces of cheese. I could see the full 13 ounces being used.

    You are also correct about the weight of the dough made from the FoodNetwork recipe. My best estimate knowing how most people measure out flour and water is a total dough weight of a bit over 30 ounces. However, I suspect that when people who practice the FoodNetwork recipe see how wet the dough is, they just add more flour. You will note that the recipe is attributed to Luigi but there is a disclaimer at the bottom of the page as to the results achievable using the recipe.

    On the matter of the type of fermentation used at Luigi Pizzeria, I noted at one point in the video right after the dough balls were being formed, Guy says something like "You let 'em proof a little bit more, then you start to make pies out of them". Luigi's reply is "Correct." He did not say, "No, we put them in the cooler first, etc." It is hard to say whether Luigi's response was absolutely intended to suggest only room temperature fermentation, or possibly some cold fermentation also to keep the dough balls from overfermenting as the day wears on.

  • #18 by PizzaEater101 on 21 Aug 2011
  • I love the detective work that Scott and Peter have done.  You two should be on the show Food Detectives.  You two are the Simon & Simon or the James Rockford and Thomas Magnum of food detective work.  Great work Scott and Peter!

    One thing I wanted to say is, maybe if I go back to San Diego and go to the pizzeria I can watch them but I tend to think that the dough is made in the back room so I don't know if I'll see them put the ingredients in the mixer and see if they refridge it or they put it out to rise.  Then again, NYN8IVE, goes there on a regular basis since he lives there so he's more likely to get there than I do so maybe he can watch them, or maybe he can just plain out ask them what they do.  They might answer him with what they do for the process.

  • #19 by Pete-zza on 21 Aug 2011
  • PizzaEater101,

    Thank you. I was laughing to myself this morning when I considered how much time scott123 and I devoted to trying to decipher the Pendleton mystery. I had heard of Pendleton before, including the Power flour (see, for example,,2139.msg18797.html#msg18797 and,4562.msg38398.html#msg38398), but it wasn't until scott123's eagle eye spotted the "Pe" in the video and mentioned Pendleton that the bell went off and brought Pendleton back to mind. Knowing your recent interest in different kinds of water and how they affect a dough, maybe scott123 can tell us what kind/brand of bottled water Luigi is using, as shown in the video.

    I also recall that that in the past many of our members were able to buy Pendleton flours, including the Power flour, in Smart & Final ( and Cash & Carry stores ( throughout the western states. I don't know if this is still true but according to the Smart & Final store locator, there are three of their stores in San Diego. There are no Cash & Carry stores in San Diego. Smart & Final is known as a warehouse source for chefs and other culinary professionals (see and so if Smart & Final carries the Pendleton flours I suppose it isn't out of the realm of possibility that Luigi buys his Pendleton flours from their stores. It may even be that the Pendleton flour bags for Smart & Final stores are different than what Pendleton uses for other accounts.

    Since your citation of the Pizzeria Luigi You Tube video had morphed into a reverse engineering/cloning exercise, if it is OK with you I would like to move the thread to the New York board.

  • #20 by scott123 on 21 Aug 2011
  • Thanks, James.  This is second nature for Peter, but it's not often that I pick up a 'scent' that I'm compelled to track down. Thank you, for bringing this fascinating pizzeria to our attention.

    For anyone that's interested, the water is Crystal Geyser:

    and, based on the part of the country they're in, should be coming from their Olancha Peak, CA source.

    The total hardness is 55-67 mg/L

    This document here:

    lists that as somewhere in between soft and hard, while they put New York's Hudson River as 84, so the hardness might be a bit off compared to NY tap (which, although not the Hudson River ;) is probably close).

    That said, he's probably not shooting for hard NY water, but is most likely avoiding chlorinated tap water. That's why I've used bottled water in the past. Lately, I've taken to boiling the chlorine out of my hard NY area tap water.  I can't really say that the results are better- it's more of a superstitious, "just in case NY water does make a difference, it wouldn't hurt to use it" kind of mentality.

    I did notice that the crystal geyser water has a pH of 5.6 to 6.5. 5.6 is pretty low for water.  That kind of acidity has got to change things up a bit.  13.5% protein + 15 minutes mixing + overnight fermentation is tough city.  Even without the overnight fermentation, I'm still thinking 13.5% + 15 minutes might have the propensity for a tough-ish crust.  With slightly acidic water, I can only see that getting worse.  It doesn't look like the people eating the pizza are gnawing at it or having a hard time, but I'd be interested in the texture of this pizza once it completely cools.

    And, Peter, fwiw, I'm not really interested in reverse engineering this pizza.  If my research helps someone else towards that goal, that's great, but my interest is more theoretical than practical- such as understanding what unbromated Pendleton Power is capable of producing.
    • scott123