Gnarly Girl Pizza Brings NYC-Style Pizzeria Experience To San Diego's Uptown

June 25, 2022

A pizza industry insider with nearly two decades of experience has unveiled Gnarly Girl Pizza, a classic NYC-style pizzeria now open in the space that last housed Twisted Taps in San Diego's Uptown area.

Melissa "Mel" Arce has 18 years of experience in the pizza and restaurant industry, including working locally at Sicilian Thing Pizza, Surf Rider Pizza and Fathom Bistro. She recently took over the 1,525 square-foot space that last housed Twisted Taps on the outskirts of San Diego's University Heights and North Park neighborhoods to follow her dream of open her very own pizzeria.

"I started delivering pizza in IB when I was 16 or 17," explained Gnarly Girl Pizza founder Mel Arce. "When I was 18, I moved to Miami Beach and got a job as a 'counter girl' at a local pizza shop serving slices and making sandwiches. From there I quickly learned how to make a variety of different styles of pizza, classically trained by a bunch of 'old guys' from New York. I'm proud to say that I was offered admission into UCSD for the fall term of 2021, but after some deep soul searching I decided to follow my original dream - to open my own pizza shop. I'm just very grateful for the opportunity and especially grateful to be in North Park, a community I've lived and work in since 2009."

Gnarly Girl Pizza is a traditional East Coast-inspired pizzeria, serving signature & customizable pizza pies and slices, as well as pasta, salads, pizza rolls, and other elevated pizzeria sides and desserts. The former Twisted Taps space has been redesigned by Sally Rodrigues, a local restaurant designer from CRAVE Design Company, and has comic-inspired murals, neon signs, music art-topped tables, and even a classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. In addition to an interior dining room with a full display case filled with pizza and a bar with a dozen taps of local craft beer, the restaurant has outdoor seating along the front and side of the building.

Gnarly Girl Pizza is now in its soft opening stage at 2302 El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego. For more information, call 619.782.9776 and follow Gnarly Girl Pizza on Facebook.