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The historic building on North Sixth Street in San Jose’s Japantown dates back to this district’s days as the city’s Chinatown. Since then, it’s been home to many restaurants — Ken Ying Low and his chop suey, a Filipino restaurant, Habana Cuba and then Yenzhou Fish, Noodles and More — before its most recent transformation into a pizza place. JTown Pizza is now welcoming customers and the community for its soft opening. We stopped by for a peek and a taste.
THE VIBE: If this were a movie, it would be called “Godzilla Meets Pepperoni” and set to a loud soundtrack. Restaurant partners Jordan Trigg and Charlie Mann of the Dipsomania group have preserved this circa 1890s structure but brought the interior up to 2019, with the obligatory high-top tables and craft-brew taps.
The whimsical Godzilla theme strikes the right balance without overpowering this minimalist decor. Lantern-style lighting fixtures from Wenzhou now are lined with vintage Godzilla posters and comic-book pages. Coming soon will be a Godzilla and graffiti art mural along one patio wall and an upstairs toy display case celebrating the Japanese pop culture icon who first emerged from the sea and headed for the silver screen in 1954.
It’s a fast-casual set-up with an order counter, long bar with TVs, plus plenty of seats and stools downstairs, upstairs, on the front sidewalk and on the soon-to-be-finished patio.
THE FOOD: New York-style and artisan pizzas ($18 for a 10-incher, $28 for a 16-incher) dominate the menu. One called Spicy Bamboo features sausage from Sunnyvale’s New York Style Sausage co., pepperoni, Calabrese peppers and red sauce. The Drunken Jack is a BBQ chicken/Hawaiian mash-up with chicken, red onion, jalapeños and pineapple on a whiskey BBQ sauce. A kale pesto sauce forms the base for the Bougie Veg Head, which combines spinach, artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes, black olives and feta. On any pizza you can sub fresh mozzarella.
Rounding out the offerings are chicken wings ($12), cheesy garlic bread ($10), shishito peppers and house-cut fries ($7 each), fried mushrooms and artichoke hearts ($8 each), sandwiches ($8 to $11) and salads ($6 to $8).
For libations, think beer. There are a dozen brews on tap, mainly Bay Area and NorCal offerings, plus a dozen more in bottles, cans. If you want a cocktail — a straighforward one, mind you — that’s available too..
DON’T MISS: You’ll find JTown Pizza’s paean to Ken Ying Low on the appetizer menu. For the Meatball Egg Rolls ($10), house-made meatballs and mozzarella are tucked into wrappers, deep-fried to a perfect crispness and served with a marinara dipping sauce.
GOOD TO KNOW: No one has to navigate that steep 19th-century staircase while balancing a 16-inch pizza tray. There’s a dumbwaiter to bring your meal up to you.
DETAILS: The inaugural hours are 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 1-10 p.m. Saturday and 1-8 p.m. Sunday, with expanded hours coming later. 625 N. Sixth St., San Jose. www.jtownpizza.com