When I moved to Encinitas almost 20 years ago, Leucadia Pizza quickly became a part of both my dining and social scene. My best friend from Michigan, Jim Klemmer, was a manager and as with most restaurant gigs, the people you work with can become a part of your social scene as well.
I got to know the crew there from that connection and to this day still count that as the place that established some of my earliest friendships.
Jim also lived in one of the boathouses on Third Street and had the ability to walk to work, which I was always envious of. But that’s another story in itself.
One of my favorite early memories of Leucadia Pizzeria was when my local idol and Coast News surf columnist Gary Taylor interviewed me there about my adventures as a Great Lakes surfer.
Gary suggested beer and pizza at Leucadia Pizza for the interview, a perfect combination with my best friend and fellow Great Lakes surfer serving up the food and beverages and chiming in on the interview with the king of the local surf scene.
When that column hit we were stoked as we had been validated by our local idol. Gary became a good friend and gave me my first food column with Surf City Times called Encinitas Eats. He passed away way too early, which was a big loss for the community.
While maybe a slight exaggeration, it seems as though working at Leucadia Pizzeria is a right of passage for Encinitas teenagers and their first jobs.
It was for my son Quinn, who had the interesting gig of answering phones for carry out and delivery orders.
It was a great experience dealing with all kinds of issues and people in various states of hunger, especially during big carry out days that coincided with major sporting events. I recall him being quite excited when he graduated to the role of busser and was able to get out among the customers and his peers in the dining room.
Many of Quinn’s good friends came from his time working there and I recall eating a lot of pizza, subs and pasta with his employee discount.
There is a good chance that if you are a parent in Encinitas, your child or the son or daughter of a friend had a job at Leucadia Pizza.
Having been in business for over 30 years now, with locations in La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe, they have established a niche for themselves and managed to continue to thrive when pizza and pasta options are plentiful. I’ve always been a huge fan of their food and can count several offices that I’ve worked in where Leucadia Pizza was always the choice when bringing in lunch for working meetings.
Their basic red sauce pizza has always had a unique flavor that made it different and delicious.
And while their menu has expanded over the years there are still a dozen or so go-to items when we order.
First off the garlic bread is addictive and comes with just about every order or and when dining in, it’s kept full in the basket — perfect for dipping in a bowl of their minestrone or tomato bisque soup. The lobster mac & cheese is another crowd pleaser along with the calamari and wings.
When it comes to pizza you can create your own or order any of their 19 specialty pizzas they offer. The BBQ chicken, roasted garlic chicken, and meat combo have been my go-to choices and everyone seems to have their own favorite. With 7-inch minis available it’s easy to mix it up and please everyone.
The salads are also solid with 10 choices and I always gravitate towards the Caesar with chicken or the Greek. I’ve probably ordered as many subs from Leucadia Pizza as anything with the chicken parm and meatball being favorites. Entrée’s include a full line of Italian-American favorites with standout lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs or sausage and the tomato basil pasta standing out for me.
Desserts are solid as well with eight choices including their locally famous chocolate chip cookies and tiramisu.
Leucadia Pizza is also home to the famous Surfing Madonna mosaic that is located on the side of the building. The deck is fabulous and perfect for events and indoors has a full bar with 12 beers on tap and a wide variety of wines with plenty of seating and TV’s to catch your favorite game.
Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the entire menu can be delivered to your home or office with full catering available.
It’s located in the Moonlight Plaza right below The Coast News at 315 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. (760) 942- 2222 or leucadiapizzaencinitas.com/
David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at [email protected] or (858) 395-6905.