Humans have long added toppings to their breads to make them tastier. Ancient Persian soldiers used their shields as a makeshift flattop to bake dates and cheese into flatbreads.

When tomatoes arrived from the New World, chefs in Naples created pizza and the rustic dish soon traveled from the city’s poorer districts to the royal dinner table. Italian immigrants brought their recipes to America, but pizza stayed in their enclaves until after World War II, when soldiers returned home raved about the bakers who had supplemented their rations.

Across from San Jose State University, Sammy G’s continues the tradition of Americans using decadent fusion to ramp up a traditional dish several notches. Their two most popular pizzas—the El Presidente and the Buffalo Mac—are pizzas in the same sense that Guy Fieri is a chef. In theory, they fit the mold, but in practice they forsake tradition for outlandish flavor.

The El Presidente ($12 for a 10-inch pizza) spun things in a Mexican direction. It came adorned with fall-apart carnitas, black beans and diced tomatoes. The most masterful touches were the fresh cilantro garnish, salsa verde drizzles and a splash of the lauded La Victoria orange sauce. The only other Mexican Pizza I’ve ever tried came from Taco Bell, so there isn’t a ton to compare. But the predominant local cuisine fit nicely on Sammy G’s cracker crust that held up even under the considerable weight of the toppings.

The Buffalo Mac ($12) substitutes the conventional sprinkling of mozzarella for a couple handfuls of mac-n-cheese that sit below tender chunks of spicy buffalo chicken breast. It’s an above-average pie, but the sheer audacity to cast these actors in the lead roles deserves praise

Among their appetizers, I tried the Tot-chos ($6), which possessed a recklessness towards calories typically found at the State Fair. The crisp taters got doused in a melty aged-cheddar cheese sauce, then sprinkled with sour cream and freshly cooked bacon bits.

On tap, they’ve got a solid selection of beers, and my Racer 5 IPA provided a crisp, citrusy contrast to the massive amount of fat I horked down. For the morning crowd, they’ve got breakfast pizzas, including the Huevos Rancheros Pizza ($11) that’s basically the El Presidente with an egg instead of carnitas. Only in America could Sammy G’s serve up the Mexican breakfast on an Italian dinner staple, but next to a college campus they should find plenty of clientele open-minded enough to take the plunge. —John Flynn

Sammy G’s Pizzeria
330 S 10th St, San Jose.