Leaning to the left
Left Coast Pizza even satisfies a right coaster
Left Coast Pizza Co.800 Bruce Rd.
Chico, CA 95928
About a month ago, I started going stir-crazy. It started with spring, I think, and the intensity of the need to satiate my wanderlust grew with every passing day. Weekend escapes weren’t cutting it. Finally, I booked a flight to my old stomping grounds, and prepared to mangiare and nosh with the best of ’em.
I love going back to the east side, if only to overindulge my senses for a week or two. So much movement, so many people, so much culture, and oy, so much good food: cheesesteaks in dark Irish pubs in Philly, knishes and pastrami on rye at Katz’s in Manhattan and unlimited Italian food and bagels down the Jersey shore. Coming home to the expansive, more relaxed West Coast is always somewhat welcome after the sensory overload of a whole lotta action and people in a pretty small space.
It seemed fitting that upon my return to the left coast I make a visit to Left Coast Pizza. I’ve heard good things about Left Coast, namely that their specialty pies are especially good, and they host live jazz music on Thursday nights. My palate, newly cleansed and re-accustomed to some damn fine Italian food, was ready for the challenge.
On my first visit, I thought I’d try a calzone, which when done right, I’ll take over pizza any day. It’s not common to find a good calzone, and a somewhat authentic one at that, up here in NorCal. Oh, I love to eat, and I’ll even eat my words from time to time, which I had to do in this case. The self-titled “huge calzone” ($9.49) with two fillings is colossal and could easily satisfy two hungry people, maybe three if you order four cheesy sticks ($4) while you wait, like I did. The service is friendly, and aims to please, even with a full house and nonstop patrons.
A few days later, a female hip-hop group was in Chico from Philly, and some food was mandatory before the show. Thursday night jazz (6 to 8 p.m.) was in full uptempo swing when we walked in, and several tables of people were enjoying the food and music.
We ordered a medium Emerald Isle pizza ($16.99), topped with pesto sauce, fresh spinach under mozzarella, provolone and feta cheese, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. The pizza was excellent, although the menu also listed julienne spinach as a topping, which was absent on our pie.
The salad bar unfortunately looked well picked over, with dressing drizzled over several containers of toppings, and toppings strewn over the ice. I opted for the “create your own salad” option on the menu, a choice of four toppings on a fresh bed of greens, which despite the name, I didn’t have to make myself. A small salad is $4.99, and well worth the price. Mounds of feta cheese, Kalamata olives (spelled Calamato in certain places on the menu), sun-dried tomatoes and onions made a really nice Greek salad, and we enjoyed it heartily with our pizza.
Upon my return visit, for there will be one, I plan to try the “twisted chicken” pie, with fresh white garlic sauce, twisted lime, blue cheese, chicken and fresh spinach, and the “happy hippie,” with light cheese, garlic, olives, artichoke hearts, zucchini, yellow squash and pesto sauce.
I’d love to see the interior of Left Coast get a makeover; its atmosphere, I feel, should match the food and service, both of which are quality. A bit more attention to basic clean-up between customers, e.g. clearing tables and restocking the salad bar is necessary.
Despite these minor foibles, I was impressed with the quality and quantity of the food. The right coast may have some of the best Italian food in the nation, but here on the left, I’m down with Left Coast, know I’m sayin'?