By Dr. Ink | Come On, Get Happy!
Four years after Oggi’s opened a pizzeria in Del Mar in 1991, it jumped into San Diego’s budding arena of microbrewing. Locally, there were only a handful of craft brewers on the scene — Karl Strauss, Pizza Port and AleSmith to name a few. Today, the franchise has spread its dough and suds to 16 locations throughout Southern California and Arizona, and with a portfolio of 10 original beers to boot.
The Mission Valley location puts all of those beers on minor discount during happy hour, when they’re each $1 off. The result is an affordable $5 per glass. The same price reduction applies to guest beers, which are normally $7.
With more than two decades of steady growth, the modern-day name — Oggi’s Sports | Brewhouse | Pizza — reflects a family-friendly environment dominated by sports games broadcast across two dozen flat screens. No matter where you sit in the spacious dining room or bar lounge, you’ll barely need to reposition your head to view a match.
Intent on washing down some half-price noshes with my beers, I planted myself in a roomy booth and zeroed in on Oggi’s newest beer, City by the Sea. It’s a crisp West Coast-style pale ale.
In beer-speak, the promo card suggests flavors of blueberry, papaya and rose blossom. I instead picked up brisk notes of citrus, grapefruit to be exact, and the promised medium-high bitterness from the hops. Very drinkable.
The beer paired swimmingly to a bruschetta flatbread pizza, one of several items on the happy hour menu. (Oggi’s regular pizzas aren’t on the list.) It featured a thin pastry-like crust and bursts of sweetness from balsamic vinegar drizzled on top of the cheese and diced tomatoes.
After depleting my pale ale, I switched to the barrel-aged Black Magic Stout, one of Oggi’s pioneer brews that netted a gold medal several years ago at the San Diego International Beer Competition. It’s hearty and full-bodied, yet without coming across as weighty.
Conversely, the “Italian” chicken quesadilla I also ordered was too heavy for my liking. And not very Italian in nature, considering it uses chipotle-flavored tortillas to capture blackened chicken, smokey bacon and cheddar cheese. Despite fresh basil and mozzarella in the mix, this is essentially an American Southwestern creation.
Oggi’s success has allowed it to become philanthropic. To date, it has raised more than $100,000 for charities that include the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and various food pantries.