The ultimate crowd-pleasing comfort food, pizza never goes out of style. In fact, the dish only gets better as chefs reinvent classic forms and work their culinary magic to create enticing new flavor combinations and cleverly adapt to the demands of today’s dietary preferences. From the treatment of the dough and diversity of crust options to the made-from-scratch sauce recipes and seasonal toppings offered, Santa Barbara pizza has never tasted so darn good. And thanks to the impressive level of customization happening, the vegan and gluten-free squads are no longer left out of the pizza party.
The Santa Barbara South Coast is home to quintessential pizza parlors that have been staples of the community for decades as well as a line-up of newer, innovative establishments and authentic Italian traditionalists. This pizza guide will make sure no pie worthy of your palate is left uncovered. So, loosen your waistband and get ready to dig in!
Rusty’s Pizza Parlor is Santa Barbara’s original homegrown pizza chain with eight locations dotting the south coast from Goleta to Summerland. Their community roots date back to Isla Vista in 1969, when founders Roger and Carol Duncan established their first family-friendly pizza parlor. No doubt, Rusty’s has filled millions of bellies over the decades. A popular party spot for birthdays and youth sports celebrations, the on-location dining environment appeals to kids of all ages. Known for their standard crispy thin crust with a thicker “Pantastic™” crust option, you can customize your toppings or opt for a specialty pie like Chile Verde and BBQ Chicken. Hot wings, sub sandwiches, salads, and garlic bread round out the menu. Given their reliable daily delivery availability until midnight, Rusty’s is a trusty go-to whenever pizza cravings strike.
Santa Barbarans have been frequenting Taffy’s Pizza on De La Vina since 1974. This understated neighborhood institution has staying power for a reason. The pizza and calzone menu offers the flexibility of personal 8-inch sizes up to large 16-inches. The Taffy’s Special is a hearty affair, topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce. Some of the more unique signature pies include the Theravada (chicken, shredded carrot, bean sprouts, cilantro, mozzarella cheese and Thai peanut sauce) and Angry Bird (chicken tossed in wing sauce, red onion, cilantro, mozzarella cheese and blue cheese sauce).
When the owners of Olio e Limone Ristorante opened the more casual Olio Pizzeria Enoteca & Bar, there was no doubt that their authentic Italian fare would hit the spot given their fine dining rep. Sicilian Chef Alberto Morello brings his family’s welcoming hospitality and Italian heritage to a pizza experience that emphasizes quality ingredients including imported cheeses and cured meats. Currently open Tuesdays through Sundays, this dinner spot will transport your taste buds with delights like the Tropea (smoked mozzarella, fennel sausage, and roasted Tropea onions) and Umbra (Robiola cheese, crimini mushrooms, and Umbrian black truffles). If you’d like to try your hand making Olio at home, balls of their proprietary pizza dough are available for purchase, too.
Montecito Country Mart is home to the charming Bettinawhose menu is just as delightful as its interior style. Specializing in naturally-leavened, Neapolitan-style pizza made with seasonal California ingredients, the cozy neighborhood spot is open daily. The menu features plenty of items for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free folks, and the restaurant takes great pride in their lovingly crafted organic dough that’s fermented for at least 48 hours. The Market Potato is pure decadence (mozzarella, Reading raclette-style cheese, dates, spring onion, pickled chard stems and silk chile) while the cheese-free Rosso keeps it super simple (crushed tomato, garlic, olive oil, basil, black pepper and Ligurian oregano). The antipasti and secondi offerings are equally tempting.
A Funk Zone pizzeria adorned with more than 150,000 copper pennies, Lucky Pennydishes out crave-worthy, gourmet level wood-fired pizzas every day of the week. Check the menu for the ever-changing daily farmers’ market pizza special based on what’s currently in season. Savory staples like the Salty Surfer (San Marzano marinara, mozzarella, San Daniele prosciutto, wood-fired pineapple, pickled Fresno chilies and parmesan) and The Californian (basil pesto, lemon ricotta, marinated artichokes and pine nuts) are just as tempting as the griddled panini sandwiches and sides like wood-fired fingerling potatoes and customizable salads. Gluten-free dough is available upon request on any pie for an added surcharge.
Respected Italian Chef Dario Furlati is behind Ca’Dario Pizzeria Veloce based inside the Santa Barbara Public Market. His newest project in a collection of esteemed Italian eateries is dedicated to all things pizza. Currently offering delivery and take-out, menu highlights include the particularly comforting Squish Squash (burrata, panna, zucchini, and squash blossoms) and Egg and Bacon (pancetta, farm egg, panna, and mozzarella). Pair your pizza with a perky salad like the Little Gems or Kalefornia or go for something heavier like grandma’s meatballs.
The westside upped its culinary cred with the introduction of Revolver. The chef-driven, New York-style pizzeria keeps things super simple and extra tasty with a straight-forward menu featuring Pepperoni, Margherita, White, and Rossa pizzas that can be customized with seasonal roasted veggies. All are topped with fresh basil, Grana Padano cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. You can buy a full 14-inch pie or order by the square and they are open every day but Tuesday. The chef’s dedication to quality ingredients also applies to the tightly edited beverage line-up featuring local beers and natural wines.
Conveniently located on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, say hello to the TikTok “King of Pizza”, Beto Diaz. Known for making pizza of all shapes, sizes and in the form of some of your favorite animated characters, Beto welcomes you and his 3M+ followers to Cali-Forno Pizzeria for a guaranteed crazy and deliciously-good time. Order to your specifications with a build-your-own pizza menu or delight in specialty pies and other oven-baked entrees.
Indulge in the authentic taste of Naples at L’antica Pizzeria da Michele Santa Barbara. Originating in Italy in 1870, this renowned pizzeria has expanded across the U.S., captivating pizza lovers in New York and Hollywood and now Santa Barbara. Experience the traditional Neapolitan flavors of its famous Margherita pizza, topped with tangy tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella and a perfectly charred crust made from dough imported directly from Italy. With its warm, inviting atmosphere (and a wine list that pairs perfectly with each pie) L’antica Pizzeria da Michele brings the essence of Italian hospitality to the heart of Santa Barbara, offering an unforgettable dining experience that transports you to Europe with just one bite.
Embark on a pizza lover’s paradise at Saint Bibiana, where the menu boasts an enticing array of pizza options that depart from the usual classics. Sink your teeth into the delectable lemon mushroom pizza, where notes of bright citrus meet the earthy flavor of mushroom. For a unique twist from its top shelf menu, indulge in The Whole Shabang, blending beurre blanc cream with its house-made red sauce, grilled onions, fennel sausage, pepperoni, tomatoes, ricotta cheese, garlic confit, mushrooms, fresh basil and chili flakes. With each pizza carefully crafted to perfection, Saint Bibiana is a must-visit destination for pizza enthusiasts seeking extraordinary flavors.
State Street’s MIZZA Artisan Pizza is all about keeping things wholesome and delicious. Everything is made from scratch and by hand including the house-smoked chicken and salmon, while sourced proteins are free-range, sustainably farmed, and designated USDA Choice. Their 12-inch artisan pizzas can be made with gluten-free or cauliflower crust and menu favorites include the Pesto Shrimp, Wild Mushroom & Truffle, and Arugula & Prosciutto. You can make it a full feast with shared plates (hello, red & golden beet carpaccio and grilled octopus!), fresh pastas, and entrees like braised short ribs.