Restaurant News & Reviews

Beloved beer-and-pizza joint in East Sacramento closing down

Buffalo chicken pizza from Hot City Pizza
Buffalo chicken pizza from Hot City Pizza Bee staff

Hot City Pizza in East Sacramento will close on Jan. 27 after 10 years in business.

“We have enjoyed serving you and would like to thank you for your support ... ,” an announcement on the restaurant’s website said. “Although this is (a) bittersweet moment, it is time to raise our glasses to the next chapter. Cheers to all for your loyalty and friendship.”

Established in 2007, Hot City had built a reputation as a beloved hole-in-the-wall known for its whole-wheat crust pies and interesting beer choices.

Owner Colby Pettenger said the decision to close wasn’t based on a single factor, but rather a combination of them. Hot City’s lease was up, Pettenger said, and he felt the desire to pursue new things. Pettenger, who discovered his love for craft beer while running Hot City, said he hopes to transition into brewery work.

“(Owning Hot City) was an experience I was really happy to have,” he said. “I got to do something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s led me to what I want to do next.”

In a 2014 review, Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson praised the restaurant for providing “good pizza with an amazing, oft-changing selection of craft beer in a casual setting,” adding that “for many beer lovers, this is a dream situation.”

Robertson said Pettenger was an inexperienced 25-year-old entrepreneur when he launched the pizzeria in a nondescript strip mall on J Street.

“Over the years, Pettenger stamped his name and vision onto his fledgling pizzeria, and word spread that these whole-wheat crust pies were pretty impressive, a far cry from the bland, cardboard-y crusts for which whole wheat had largely been known,” Robertson wrote.

As the craft-beer trend took hold in Sacramento, Pettenger developed a more sophisticated beer list for his restaurant. “He began by adding a few local choices, a few sours and a wide range of American and European imports, with a noteworthy soft spot for Belgians,” Robertson wrote.

Eventually, its beer offerings became as popular as its pizzas, which included abundantly loaded pies such as the spicy “Angry Pig” and the “Big Green Veggie.”

After learning of the closure, fans of the restaurant expressed their dismay on Hot City’s Facebook page. “Man, what a bummer,” Brion Maciel posted. “Not a good way to start out 2018.”

Maciel, a resident of nearby Sierra Oaks and a Hot City regular, later told The Bee he had become endeared to the restaurant in part because of its “homey feel.”

He said he would take his son to Hot City whenever his wife was out of town. “It’s kind of our thing,” Maciel said.