Who doesn’t love pizza?
Those cheesy-gooey-chewy discs of deliciousness are a sure-fire hit any way you slice them. And it’s no wonder—pizza is fast, fresh, super satisfying and won’t break the bank. Whether topped with fresh farmers’ market veggies or flavor-packed meats and cheeses, we love it through thick and thin. Here are some of the places in town where you can score your pies.
Come hungry to new-kid-on-the-block Patxi’s Pizza (515 State St., patxispizza.com), opening in August, where their signature Chicago-style stuffed pizza is king. Also try the thin-crust version, hand-pulled to perfection, or create your own from more than 30 meat and veggie toppings. Patxi’s (pronounced “pah-cheese”) Chicago- and Italian-style pizzas feature two distinct, handcrafted styles of dough; look for vegan, whole-wheat and gluten-free options, too. Sit inside the rustic yet contemporary space or on the large outdoor patio, sip from over a dozen beers on tap and dig into fresh salads and small plates along with your pies.
Locals rejoiced when Alberto and Elaine Morello, owners of the excellent Olio e Limone Ristorante, and now Olio Crudo Bar (see Restaurant Round-Up), fired up Olio Pizzeria (11 W. Victoria St. #21, 805/899-2699, oliopizzeria.com). Modeled after the Italian enoteca concept of the casual neighborhood wine bar, this is the place to meet friends for such crave-worthy thin-crust pizzas as the Umbra with robiola cheese, crimini mushrooms and Umbrian black truffles or the Margherita d.o.c. (which has a gluten-free option).
Ca’ Dario Pizzeria (29 E. Victoria St., 805/957-2020, cadariopizza.net) is the pizza child of Dario Furlati, owner of uber-popular Ca’ Dario Ristorante. Known for doing Italian simply and well, Dario continues the tasty tradition here, using top-notch ingredients and importing his flour from Italy. Try the parmaerughetta with prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella and arugula or the funghietta leggio wild mushroom pizza. The gluten-free crust is one of the best in town. Add some antipasti, salad and a glass of Italian or Santa Barbara County vino and you’re living la dolce vita.
Go-to neighborhood spot Via Vai Trattoria & Pizzeria (1483 East Valley Rd. #20, Montecito, 805/565-9393, viavaisb.com) turns out simply wonderful Italian food, including paper-thin-crust pizzas topped with everything from grilled eggplant to smoked prosciutto. Watch (and smell) as your pie emerges from the wood-burning oven in the open kitchen. Sit out on the covered patio for million-dollar mountain views.
Lucky Penny (127 Anacapa St., 805/284-0358, luckypennysb.com) in the where-it’s-at Funk Zone focuses on creative wood-fired pizzas, fresh salads, sandwiches and craft beer and wine. They keep their ingredients local and their menu simple. Crusts are thin, so you can eat the whole thing. Try the Ode to Dan Russo (named after general manager extraordinaire) with oven-roasted tomatoes, pork and fennel sausage, Calabrian chile, smoked mozzarella and arugula; and the Breakfast on Milpas with fingerling potatoes, sunny-side-up egg, chorizo, spicy tomatillo marinara, cotija cheese and cilantro.
Chef Ricardo Zarate (2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef) fuses Californian techniques with the Peruvian flavors of his heritage at Blue Tavern (119 State St., 805/845-0989, bluetavernsb.com), his first restaurant outside of Los Angeles. Fan-favorite pizzas from the wood-fired oven include prosciutto with goat cheese, burrata, huacatay pesto, and arugula.
In a hurry? Customize your own pie at made-to-order Persona Neapolitan Pizzeria (905 State St., 805/899-4999, personapizzeria.com). Watch the whole process as fresh local ingredients are piled on, and super-hot, wood-fired ovens bake it to crispy perfection in 90 seconds. Chicken chipotle and pesto, anyone?
Barbarians Pizza (511 State St., 805/884-0044) is a new addition that offers New York-style pizzas, 13 beers on tap (and draft root beer), local wines, 12 TVs and shuffleboard. Don’t miss the Salsipuedes with hot Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic and fresh jalapenos, and the Barbarian with pepperoni, bacon and pineapple.
To find hidden gem The Bourbon Room (4444 Hollister Ave., 805/265-3788) look for the cozy cabin tucked behind Creekside Inn. All hipster-homey comfort, it’s the perfect place to dig into a habanero barbecued pulled-pork pizza or Kai’s pizza with housemade pesto, mushrooms and caramelized onions.
Shhhh…Crocodile Restaurant & Bar (2819 State St., 805/687-6444, crocsb.com) is a locals’ secret tucked away in Lemon Tree Inn. The Cal-Italian menu includes the scrumptious white pizza with olives, peppers, portobello mushrooms, basil and white sauce, and the mouth-watering absolut with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and peppers.
At family-friendly Nutbelly Pizzeria & Deli (915 Linden Ave., Carpinteria, 805/684-3354, nutbelly.com), the Rincon Special with spinach, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, applewood-smoked bacon and roasted chicken is all the rage with its parmesan white cream sauce. All pies are available with gluten-free crust and vegan cheese.
Sip local wine or a local beer and check the daily specials at Fresco Valley Cafe (442 Atterdag Rd., Solvang, 805/688-8857, frescovalleycafe.com) for such winners as roasted chicken and artichoke hearts with kalamata olives.
Originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.