Three restaurants in North County and three in San Diego have been ranked by Yelp reviewers this week among the Top 100 Places to Eat in 2018.
Back for the second year in a row are Sunny Side Kitchen in Escondido, which moved up six slots to No. 45, and the Classics Malt Shop in San Diego, which rose five slots to No. 95. Two winners from 2016 returned to this year’s list, Yoshino Japanese Deli in Carlsbad at No. 22, and T Deli in Hillcrest at No. 42. And two new spots joined the list this year, Beyer Deli in South Bay, ranked No. 59, and Pizzamaniac in Vista, which came in at No. 87.
Introduced five years ago by Yelp, a crowd-sourced dining reviews website, the top 100 ranking is based on a data formula that looks at restaurants’ 5-star ratings and reviews with extra weight given to newer, up-and-coming, neighborhood eateries rather than larger, long-established regional restaurants.
List newcomer Ben Phillips, 37, said he was excited to get the news this week about his Pizzamaniac restaurant. He opened the north Vista pizzeria in February 2016 and is proud to have amassed more than 300 5-star reviews in the two years since.
“I never wanted to own a restaurant, I just wanted to have a kitchen where I could feed people and watch them fall in love with pizza the same way I did 15 years ago,” he said.
Phillips is a Vista native whose parents are both chefs. During his 20s he played guitar in a Seattle-based punk rock band. Between tours he’d pay bills by working in pizzerias, where he became fascinated with the science of dough-making.
After the band broke up, he returned to Vista and spent five years apprenticing at local pizzerias where he perfected his own New York-style thin-crust dough and sauces.
At the end of 2015 he leased the shuttered Pizzamania outlet at 1461 N. Santa Fe Ave. For legal reasons he needed to change the pizzeria’s name, but with just $600 left to his name, he couldn’t afford new signs. So he spent $300 on a letter “c” and Pizzamaniac was born.
Since then, he’s gradually built a following of loyal customers who appreciate his quality standards. Everything is made in-house with fresh, never-frozen ingredients. Meats are cooked onsite, pizzas are hand-tossed and even the pineapple is cut fresh.
His top-sellers are a pair of white pizzas, the White Stone, with ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan, and the Presto Pesto, with mozzarella, garlic, pesto and feta cheese.
Although business is good, Phillips said he hopes the listing will bring in a lot of new customers.
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SOURCE: (San Diego Union Tribune)