Food & Dining
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J. Trani’s Ristorante’s caramelized pear and gorgonzola pizza. (photo: Sanam Lamborn)

Last February, I wrote about long-standing pizza makers in town and the many childhood memories heavily interwoven with eating at these eateries.

Writing about American-style pizza was not easy for me, but I still found combinations I truly enjoyed. Even though I have lived in this country for over 30 years, I am still deeply rooted in certain culinary traditions I grew up with. My Italian stepfather and my years in Rome have significantly shaped my taste buds and affection for all things Italian. 

As you may have guessed by now, I am pretty picky about pizza. It took me a long time to adjust to American-style doughy pies loaded with piles of cheese and other ingredients (and don’t get me started on the horror of pineapple on pizza). Although I have come a long way, my preference remains thin-crust pizza with limited but purposeful toppings. 

J. Trani’s Ristorante’s Truffle Potato Pancetta pizza. (photo: Sanam Lamborn)

A visit to J. Trani’s Ristorante (584 W. 9th St.) never disappoints because the food and service are consistently good. I approve of The Blanca & Bacon; how can you go wrong with a pizza topped with bacon, fontina, mozzarella, parmesan, and brown butter? Another combination that I enjoy is the caramelized pear and gorgonzola; however, it is a bit too low on pear slices for me. But I am obsessed, and I am choosing my words intentionally here, with the truffle potato pancetta pizza. It’s impossible not to love paper-thin slices of potatoes topped with pancetta and mozzarella and finished with truffle oil. It’s the type of pizza that I crave most often. I can’t tell you about the rest of the pizzas because FOMO (fear of missing out) won’t allow me to deviate anymore.

Burattino Brick Oven Pizza’s Mercedes pizza. (photo: Sanam Lamborn)

When the current owner of Burattino Brick Oven Pizza (29701 S. Western Ave.) took over, I was happy to see that the staple menu items did not change along with the ownership and business name. I have had many options on the menu, but my absolute favorite since the beginning has been the Quattro Gusti, made with ham, artichokes, mushrooms, mozzarella, and fresh basil. When in the mood for variety, I also like to order the Mercedes, a trio in which the Quattro Gusti makes up one-third of the pie. The other third is the Croatian, made with beef prosciutto, mushrooms, peppers, onion, olives, feta, and mozzarella cheese. The final third is the Romana, topped with ham, large tomato slices, feta cheese, and fresh basil. The crust crunch here is on point. 

Miller Butler’s Boujee pizza. (photo: Sanam Lamborn)

Last but not least is what, in my opinion, San Pedro needed: Miller Butler Pizza. I first learned about their existence from friends who repeatedly told me to stop by their weekly Sunday pizza on the block. To say that I was skeptical, given my strong opinions about pizza, is a bit of an understatement. Let’s just say it was love at first bite. It’s hard not to love a dough made with good quality flour that results in a light, thin crust. I have had all the pizza options, and the Boujee, made with pesto, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, prosciutto, arugula, and drizzled with honey, is by far my favorite. Il Chicano, made with Chori-man Red Zacateca chorizo, chimichurri, roasted corn, Mexican crema, cotija, and cilantro, is a close second. 

I particularly love seeing my pizza made in front of me, from stretching the dough and adding toppings to it going in and out of the wood-fired oven. I also enjoy interacting with the talented owners Jillana Miller and Ahmad Butler, who are personable and good at their craft. Much to my excitement, Miller Butler is now on a regular rotation at Brouwerij West, making for perfect pizza and beer opportunities. For up-to-date information about where to catch them in and out of town, visit their Instagram account:
@millerbutler_sp. spt

Sanam Lamborn

Sanam Lamborn created the Eat in San Pedro Facebook group and Instagram account in April 2020 to entice people to patronize San Pedro’s eateries.