It takes a ballsy person to open a pizzeria on the Balboa Peninsula, where a good slice of pie has always been just a drunken stumble away. But to open a Mexican pizzeria? That's an idea so seemingly crazy it has to work.
That must be the thinking behind the opening of the first American outpost for Pizza del Perro Negro, a Mexican chain with locations in Guadalajara, Cancún, and the muy muy Mexico City Coyoacán and Roma neighborhoods. A place such as this wouldn't work anywhere else in OC, where everyone's idea of what a Mexican and Mexican food is will never shift beyond wab status (and in SanTana, all the Mexicans want Little Caesar's and Pizza Hut, anyways). But on the Peninsula, where the surfers and retirees love Mexican food as much as they love pizzas, Pizza del Perro Negro has a fighting chance by just existing. For one, it serves deep-dish pizza, a tradition sorely lacking in Newps. The crust is fluffy, toasted to the right crunch; the sauce and cheese offer comfort akin to a text from mami. Best yet, though, are combos that Mexican pizza giants La Pizza Loca and Pizza Patrón could only dream of offering.
Consider the Chile Relleno pizza, featuring an honest-to-goodness poblano baked on top of the deep-dish pie, cheese on cheese unifying in the greatest tag team since the Hart Foundation. Even better is the carnitas pizza—the shredded pork is worthy of a mulita—which pales only to the Cannibal: cochinita pibil, pickled red onions and habaneros. There are about 10 of these Mexified creations—Pizza del Perro Negro's offerings will not only become a surfer/stoner obsession within weeks, but would also convince even the most strident Aztlanista to brave Balboa. And while you can order full pizzas, your better bet is going with the Monster Slices, which in reality are personal-sized beauties that are a steal at five bucks apiece.
The place has been open only a couple of weeks, so Pizza del Perro Negro's opening-day jitters still haven't disappeared—when I went, there weren't any bags for my to-go order. All forgivable, especially when presented with a disc of chilaquiles snuggled in between layers of cheese—nothing else matters, NOTHING.