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SJ COUNTY: Plenty of mom & pops that make popular pies
pic smack pie n stockton copy
Smack Pie Pizza in downtown Lodi uses a production line along with fire oven to cook up an unforgettable made-to-order pizza.

For years, Dante’s California Style Pizza & Café has been the consensus choice for the top pizza place in Stockton.

Each pizza is individually handmade to order, therefore, it takes a little bit more time to prepare.

“The crust is cooked just right – never over or under cooked,” said Vince Velasquez, who is the operation supervisor at the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s information Technology Department.

He’ll go out of his way to pick up a California Combo consisting of pepperoni, salami, ham, linguisa, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and black olives.

Velasquez, who will make the trip to Dante’s – located at 9305 Thornton Rd (see: for more information – from his Lathrop home, noted the fresh ingredients is what defines this Specialty Pizza on menu. “I also like the smoky taste,” he added.

Dante’s is one of several of small, independent or family-owned pizza places in the Port City. David’s Pizza (two locations, see:, Michael’s Pizza ( and Eric’s Pizza ( claim to have the New York-style pizza – no, they’re not quite the East Coast confection (I say that on behalf of my fanfare for John’s of any of the “original” Ray pizzerias in the Big Apple) but all three places do have something to offer that says, well, home.

Speaking of which, I grew up on Eddie’s Pizza ( in south Stockton. One of the specialties there is the Eddie’s Famous Combination loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, ham, bell peppers, onions, black olives, linguisa, dry Italian salami, and pepperoncinis.

VIP Pizza ( is another place in town to claim “The Best Pizza in Stockton.”

Located in the upscale Brookside, VIP in Brookside was established in 2000 by John Hughes and Chris Ryza.


Smack Pie Pizza may be the first fast-casual pizza restaurant.

Think Subway, a fast-food franchise that assembles sandwiches via a production line of fresh vegetables and other condiments.

Smack Pie uses the same concept, kicking off the build-your-own pizza process is this ball-shaped dough getting flattened down to its pie shape. From there, the workers throw down the ingredients to specifications before placing it in the fire oven.

While the one-size pizzas are made to order, Smack Pie has a menu consisting of the Original Smack Pie, Classic Margherita, BBQ Smack Down, Pesto Chicken, Vegetarian, Double Bacon Smack, and “Meat” the Smack Daddy, to name a few.

For more information, log on to


When it comes to pizza, Rusty’s appears to be No. 1 choice in most minds.

“Hands down, it’s the best,” said longtime Tracy resident Kathi Coyle.

Rusty’s is a longtime fixture and has gone by different names in the past. It was Tracy Joe’s prior to the current name change.

Yet the pizza remains the same.

The crust and dough is consistently good and crispy while the toppings get high marks in terms of flavor.

Rusty’s at 320 W. Grant Line Rd is where the locals go for pizza.

All visitors are welcome to this place that has maintained some of Tracy’s old history.


For more information, call 209.835.5398.