A pizza pop-up that blossomed into a permanent East Village storefront in October 2021 is opening its second location in Chula Vista. TNT Pizza was founded by owner Kevin Gist and his wife, Jess, in their home kitchen during the pandemic when Gist, a 20-plus-year veteran of local pizza spots like Pizzeria Luigi, partnered up with Joseph Ghafouri Wehrly (formerly of Surfrider Pizza), to bake up Detroit-style pizzas with plus crusts topped with carmelized cheese and other innovative topping combinations.
With plans to launch by spring or summer, their new restaurant will replace Attitude Brewing Company on 3rd Avenue in downtown Chula Vista. “Offering quality pizza in a suburb makes us feel we are being true to our roots,” Wehrly tells Eater, and “being a part of a burgeoning nightlife scene is cool.” Their landlord, Alan Cassell, operates the neighboring Vogue Tavern and a new Japanese-style listening bar will be opening next door.
TNT, which stands for Thick’n Thin, now offers a range of pizzas, including the fan-favorite one-inch high Detroit pizza and thin New York-style pizza, which are available by the slice and as well as whole pies as well as alternatives like the medium-thick grandma pan pizza and an ultra-thin tavern style not commonly found in San Diego.
Its cheese pizza, dubbed the Large Marge, features sliced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil, and basil while more far-out concoctions include the Pickle Pie with house-made pickles, ranch, and everything seasoning with fresh dill and garlic. Nearly all pizzas can be ordered vegan, with vegan substitutes like housemade seitan pepperoni and dairy-free ranch and cheese.
The larger Chula Vista space will allow for an expansion of the menu to include more pizza options or other new items like deep-fried appetizers or sandwiches. Designed with a similar throwback pizza parlor feel to their flagship location, expect to see wood paneling, stained-glass light fixtures, and “Denny’s style” booths plus graphics and art by Mortis Studios.
Once things are settled in Chula Vista, Gist and Wehrly will focus on their next project. The TNT Pizza team is planning to bring their take on woodfired pizza to a new collaborative outdoor garden space from Jill Solomon (Cow by Bear) and Jessica O’Shea that will be opening on 30th Street in North Park later this year.