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It was my parent’s anniversary, and to celebrate the special occasion, I took my mom and dad to Sammy’s Pizza; one of my favorite gourmet restaurants in Del Mar which is also family-friendly. We have always loved to go to Sammy’s Pizza to try old favorites, such as Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza and the Chilled Roasted Vegetable Salad. But, on this special day, we decided to try items from the menu that we have never ordered before.
The first dish served was the Duck Taco appetizer. The six delectable, crunchy delicacies were artfully arranged surrounding a clump of yogurt based cheese, with feta cheese pieces and shredded lettuce sprinkled on top. When I took a bite, the moist, savory duck gave a perfect contrast to the crisp lettuce and tortilla. The fresh lettuce was really delicious, and we cleaned the plate in less than a minute! The friendly waiters frequently came by our booth to see if everything was okay.
The food took a while to arrive, since it was an extremely busy night, so I took some time to admire our surroundings. I enjoyed the hanging globe light fixtures outside (similar to the ones at their sister restaurant Roppongi which I reviewed for the Jan 2012 San Diego Restaurant Week), and the plush benches at our booth. Our waiter Tim was knowledgeable and recommended some of the most popular dishes among customers.
A while later, all of our food arrived and I tried the Grilled Shrimp Salad first. I loved the tender, chewy grilled shrimp that added delicious texture to the crunchy vegetables. Next, I tried the Kobe beef burger. With a piece of juicy, lean Kobe beef, it was great to enjoy a burger for once without worrying about the impact on my health. The burgers were scrumptious, with tasty melted cheese and a side of crunchy fries. But, the fries had lost much of their potato flavor.
For entrees, the Goat Cheese Pizza was tasty, with melted cheese, spinach, and a crunchy crust. This pizza was one of the most popular wood fired pizzas in the restaurant, and I could easily tell why (my personal favorite is the Yummy Honey Cheese Pizza with sheep cheese from Macedonia, which can now be ordered as a dessert!). The wild mushrooms were yummy, and the onions cut in thin slices were very good too, although normally I don’t enjoy mushrooms and onions. Another dish was the Grilled Lamb Chops. I loved the succulent lamb chops. The juicy medium-cooked lamb was marinated in herbs with crunchy roasted fingerling potato slivers and green beans.
Finally, after my parents and I finished off our delicious meal, we went on to the best part of the whole meal…dessert! We got the Apple Empanadas with sweet cinnamon sprinkled on refreshing vanilla ice cream that melts in your mouth. The delicious Apple Empanadas had a crunchy crust and sweet, crisp apples in sugary syrup. My mom got the creamy Salted Butterscotch Pudding, which was very rich and flavorful and pretty sweet too. Both orders were delicious, as they went well with all the savory dishes earlier.
Most of the food at Sammy’s was delicious, but I found some ways that the restaurant could improve. First of all, the feta cheese in the Grilled Shrimp Salad was a bit too much, and tasted a bit dry and stale. Also, the lumps of goat cheese on the pizza weren’t very appetizing to me. Another thing was that they served their food all at once after a long period of time. It may be more efficient for the cooks, but it leaves less time for people to enjoy their meal dish by dish when it is still hot (although I’ll cut them some slack because they were particularly busy that night). Finally, the menu was a little bit greasy, and I didn’t really want to touch it when I was ordering.
After the meal, I interviewed the chef, Gerardo, who gave some insight on how he works. He was inspired to be a chef because he had always loved cooking. Gerardo enjoys every dish at Sammy’s Pizza, and creates new recipes by studying his recipes and coming up with new ideas.
Overall, Sammy’s Pizza is a “Perrific!” restaurant that I rate 4 out of 5 starfish. My family and I love Sammy’s Pizza, and after trying some delicious new items, we will definitely come here often!
Perry Chen is the youngest award-winning film/ entertainment critic & animator, artist, speaker, and entertainment personality. He started writing movie reviews at 8 using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, under the guidance of his mom Dr. Zhu Shen and his 3rd grade teacher Ms. Harris. Perry’s debut on the CBS Evening News in 2009 made him a national sensation. He has been featured extensively on local, national, and international media, including NPR, Fox, CNN, NBC, The Guardian, The China Press, and many more. He has interviewed prominent filmmakers at film festivals, red carpet premieres, and press junkets. He won a prestigious “Excellence in Journalism Award” at the San Diego Press Club in 2010 as its youngest member. Perry currently writes movie reviews for the Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews website with a combined readership of over 2 million worldwide. Perry and his family live in the community of Carmel Valley San Diego.
Dr. Zhu Shen’s love for the movies started when she was a young girl, growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution where watching movies was the only entertainment available to the masses. Her journey to become a filmmaker took a convoluted path. She studied medicine at Peking Union Medical College before coming to the US and earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Colorado, and then an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson School. She is a producer of the upcoming documentary feature “Average Joe on the Raw,” about journey into raw food and health. Dr. Shen is also an award-winning biotech executive, author, speaker, China business expert featured on national and trade media including CBS, Fox, Business Week, Pharmaceutical Executive, and more. She has worked at IBM, Bayer, Chiron, Immusol, and is the CEO of BioForesight, consulting on cross-Pacific life science business. *Photos of Perry Chen and Zhu Shen by Brian Bostrom.