Pizza amazes me. It’s just flour, cheese and a few toppings, and yet the simple dish continues to get people excited as restaurants continue to refine and reinvent it.

Look at the enduring buzz surrounding Mozza in L.A., Phoenix’s Pizzeria Bianco or the hubbub of Anthony Mangieri’s Una Pizza Napoletana in New York (and now San Francisco). A good pizza is a work of art and craftsmanship. It’s something to argue about and celebrate. And of course to eat.

Here in Silicon Valley, the buzz surrounding Campbell’s Blue Line Pizza has been hard to miss. The restaurant is the second location for San Francisco’s Little Star Pizza, a pizzeria of considerable acclaim. What makes Blue Line different is its offering of Chicago-style, deep-dish pizzas (Blue Line is a reference to one of the main trains that run between O’Hare Airport and Chicago). 

The cornmeal-based crust resembles a shell—a concave, thick-walled creation to which sauce and toppings are added. It takes about 20 minutes to bake. I tried the restaurant’s signature Blue Line Pizza ($8.85 for individual size, $18 for 9-inch and $23.25 for 12-inch), spinach with ricotta and feta cheeses, mushrooms, onions, garlic. The pizza is lovely, and the crust is crisp and light, but all that bread is too much of a commitment for me.

Like almost every kid in world, I loved pizza, and I was puzzled why the thin-crust option existed at all. I thought, pizza is great, and I want more of it. Thick crust equals more pizza, so that’s what I want. It was like being asked if I wanted two scoops of ice cream or one. Two! Duh.

But then, I grew up and began to appreciate the finer points of pizza and crust architecture and the effects of 2 pounds of dough sitting in my belly like a swallowed shot put. Thin crust offered the pleasure of pizza without the bulk. And it better revealed the artistry involved in pizza creation. Less was more. I became a thin-crust convert.

Blue Line’s deep-dish pizza doesn’t sit quite so heavily, but for me the thin, New York-style crust is the way to go. Luckily, Blue Line does both. The crust is crisper and flatter than what you’ll find at La Pizzeria, a Neapolitan-style pizza shop a few doors down. It’s generously sprinkled with cornmeal to help it slide off the pan and that adds to its crunchy bite. The classic thin crust ($8.95 for individual, $17.95 for 12-inch and $24.85 for 16-inch), which combines sausage, mushroom onions and thinly sliced green bell peppers, is hard to beat.

Blue Line does more than pizza well. Salads are often afterthoughts at pizza restaurants, thrown together with little or no thought at all. But that’s not true at Blue Line. The Caesar ($5 for small, $8.50 for large) is a standout with its lively, anchovy-accented dressing applied in just the right quantity. The irregularly shaped, house-made croutons improve it even more. For something a little out of the pizza genre, go for the oven-roasted shishito peppers with a side of chevre dip ($6.50).

Although Blue Line is mainly a pizza place, the panini sandwiches are good, too. While the ciabatta rolls and foccacia are a bit too bready (or need to be more thoroughly pressed), what’s between the two slices of bread is quite good.

I tried the roast beef, bacon and Havarti ($8.25) and the artichoke and sun-dried tomatoes ($7.65) with roasted red peppers, red onions and Gorgonzola cheese. Of the two, I liked the tangy, sweet and salty vegetarian sandwich the best.

Part of Blue Line’s appeal is the hip, urban vibe. It occupies a corner spot of East Campbell Avenue in downtown Campbell with big windows on two sides, sidewalk seating and a view of the railroad tracks. There’s a large, inviting bar with a full liquor license.

My only gripe is the battleship-gray walls. The color is too dour and notches down an otherwise cheery atmosphere, but the pizza makes up for any of that. Look for the buzz around Blue Line Pizza to grow as more Silicon Valley locations open up.
Blue Line Pizza
415 E. Campbell Ave., Campbell