Back in March of 1987 Gina and Vince Marsaglia, a pair of siblings in their 20′s, bought a struggling pizza place in the sleepy coastal town of Solana Beach, just north of San Diego. From a funky storefront on the famous Pacific Coast Highway the duo ran the “Pizza Port” with a classic menu of pizza and chicken wings to which they added their own “San Diego” twist.
The Original Pizza Port in Solana Beach
The parking was limited and the building crowded with simple hand-built picnic tables and a hodge-podge décor of surf-related paraphernalia almost at odds with the sophisticated flavors of the food. But word spread quickly and it wasn’t long before Pizza Port was a local favorite.
Early on Vince took advantage of free space in the restaurant’s storage area to dabble with home brewing. The hobby took off and he was eventually brewing more than could reasonably be consumed at home. So at the urging of friends and fans, the Vince and Gina decided to go into the brewpub business. Pizza Port offered its first craft-brewed beers to patrons in 1992.
Embracing the same “flavor-driven” principles that had made the pizza menu so popular, Pizza Port quickly gained a reputation in San Diego’s nascent craft beer scene. In 1997 the company opened a second location a few miles north of Solana Beach in Carlsbad, and a third in 2003 in San Clemente. The same year San Clemente opened (as well as the year after), the original location in Solana Beach won Great American Beer Festival “Small Brewpub of the Year”.
The Pizza Port family’s reputation for great foods and craft beer continued to grow, making them landmarks not just for Southern Californians, but for beer lovers from around the world. In 2008 they opened a premium bottle shop with more that 600 craft beers adjacent to the Carlsbad locations, and by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the Pizza Ports were a brewing dynasty. In 2009 the Pizza Ports won a staggering 9 medals at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival and Pizza Port Carlsbad was named “Large Brewpub of the Year”.
Not content to rest on past successes, Gina and Vince opened a forth Pizza Port in Ocean Beach in May of 2010.
Like the first in Solana Beach and all the Pizza Ports after it, it is just blocks from the beach and combines signature foods and handcrafted beers with the unique atmosphere of the beach town that surrounds it.
More significantly, as the first location within the city of San Diego itself, the new brewpub finally put Pizza Port’s unique foods and handcrafted beers within minutes of millions. And even though it came nearly a quarter century after the original, the Ocean Beach Pizza Port still holds to the same rule as all others: “Good Food and Good Beer Bring Good Cheer!” Cheers!
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