• Pizza Guru: That’s it. I’m moving to Santa Barbara.

    February 17th, 2010mr meanermore restaurants (not LA), santa barbara

    Why did I just put my house on the market and quit my job? Why am I now sitting here looking into employment opportunities and real estate prices in another city? I can tell you it’s not because of this article which names Santa Barbara as the 6th best “Medium and Small Metro Area” in the USA, or the fact that a few minutes drive from said metro area are some of the oldest and finest wineries in North America.

    It’s not even because my comedic hero John Cleese lives there. Nah. The reason I’m tempted to up roots and hitchhike north is because Santa Barbara has the very best pizza I’ve ever eaten. AND, I’m not just talking about since becoming vegan – I’m talking about the best pizza ever. In the world. Of all time. For me, at least.

    Situated about three miles north of Downtown Santa Barbara, on State St., Pizza Guru looks more like a coffee shop than a pizza parlor. Subdued lighting, dark antique tables, gilt-edged mirrors, potted plants and a chalk board in the bathroom (more on that later) give a very homely feeling to this up-market organic pizzeria. Inside you’ll find friendly staff, low-key locals and an absolutely HUGE selection of vegan crusts, sauces and toppings lovingly prepared by a small team of hard working people dedicated to giving you the very best pizza experience.

    As all of us pizza lovers know, a perfect pie has four perfect things blended in perfect harmony, which at Pizza Guru they really do, er, perfect:

    The Crust: Hand tossed, yet consistently textured. This crust is crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and has a perfect amount of oil so that after the first bite or two you have an awesome mouth texture without feeling over-greased or over dried. Crusts come in Signature (white, which we had), Whole Wheat and Gluten-free (something very rare for a commercial pizzeria).

    The Sauce: We opted for Vegan Garlic White Sauce, which was so much more than a blob of garlic infused olive oil: It was creamy, yet light, leading to a healthy-tasting vibe with more of a flavor of garlic than overpowering raw garlic. The special Marinara is also vegan, so there are two choices of sauces with three pizza crusts leading to six vegan variations. And that’s before the cheese and toppings.

    The Cheese: Nowadays, there’s only one vegan cheese that works on pizza: Daiya Italian Blend. Pizza Guru do a great job using just the right amount, and cooking it perfectly. As we all know, over-cooked Daiya (or, indeed, over-cooked cheese of any persuasion) really isn’t that good any more than under-cooked cheese is. Pizza Guru do Daiya just right. You seriously won’t get a better rendition of Daiya anywhere else.

    The Toppings: In addition to 14 vegetable toppings (from the basic onions to the avant garde “Mushroom Blend”), Pizza Guru has three vegan protein offerings: Toasted Tofu, Pepperoni and Canadian Bacon. We opted for a bunch of vegetables: Mushroom Blend (diced mushrooms, leading to more of a mushroom flavor than chunky mushrooms to chew on: a good thing), tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos and the vegan pepperoni.

    For vegan pizza converts (such as myself), this pie had a strikingly similar consistency to a Pizza Hut deep dish pizza, but without the overbearing oily taste (and, of course, the non-vegan ingredients). At the same time hearty and tasty but not too filling to make one feel bloated, Pizza Guru really strikes a very careful balance and delivers, both metaphorically, and also to a five mile delivery radius, on a wonderfully unique, yet strangely familiar vegan pizza offering.

    Next time you’re in Santa Barbara whether it’s after an afternoon of wine tasting, or on a day trip from wherever you are (only 90 minutes from LA, don’t forget), Pizza Guru is either a must-visit destination or the only ‘phone number you need to know for delivery to your hotel room.

    If you dine in, though, there’s a good selection of tap beers and locally produced wines (some organic) so you can get your fill of alcohol too. There are also a few bars on that block including “Don’s Cocktails” a hard-hitting urban dive bar/drinking den with a difference you’ll have to visit to find out.

    So, after re-living my visit to Pizza Guru just now I recalled my offer on an apartment, begged my boss for my job back and decided it was easier to drive up north a few times a year than actually move to Santa Barbara. Also, John Cleese is older than my mother (that’s saying something) so I’m not sure I’m ready for the sedentary life of retirement just yet.

    Oh, and chalk-boards in restrooms are BEGGING to be drawn on. So shoot us 🙂

    Pizza Guru
    3534 State St
    Santa Barbara, CA 93105
    (805) 563-3250

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24 responses to “Pizza Guru: That’s it. I’m moving to Santa Barbara.” RSS icon

  • This pizza looks wonderful! I shall check out Pizza Guru next time I’m in Santa Barbara. Hopefully your graffiti will still be there!

  • YUM!!!!!!!!! i need to take a lil’ trip up north and pizza guru will be on top of the list! 🙂

  • Toasted tofu? That sounds intriguing. May have to make the journey just for that. And – OMG KALAMATA OLIVES!

    My taste-buds are a-quivering and my mouth, she is a-salivating. Must go now.

  • That sure looks better than any pizza we have in LA. I miss deep dish!

  • I’d kill to have a place like this near by. None of the good vegan pizza restaurants in Los Angeles have an eat-in option.

  • Thanks, I will try this out next time I’m in Santa Barbara.

    I’m driving through Glendale in the next few days (the city where I was born, so I have a soft spot for Glendale.)

    Anyways, I need to stop in at the Glendale Cruzer on Pacific and order a vegan pizza, I still haven’t done that.

  • Hahaha I love the chalk board art! Quarry Girl forever!

  • Love the graffiti! The only pizza options in my town are Dominoes take out/delivery and Papa Murphy’s. I want to get my hands on some of that italian mozz daiya and have the Papa Murphy’s staff put that on instead of the cow pus crap.

  • Ugh I would do anything for some Daiya right now. I can’t find it anywhere local! I wish I lived in LA.

  • I am heading up this weekend! Perfect timing.

  • what type of vegan pepperoni is that?

  • I was there 1/30 and loved it! It’s also my fav. The woman working there said she was bummed about the Daiya because she liked the FYH cheese better. I told her she was crazy. She also gave us some vegan ranch dressing to dip the pizza in.

    The staff was so nice and really seem to understand what is vegan. And the pizza was awesome. I can’t wait to go back.

  • And props for picturing my favorite pizza – pepperoni and jalapeno!!! Gee, and I’m going to be in Glendale today… CRUZER RUN.

  • I’m a Santa Barbara local, and love Pizza Guru! If you’re ever back up this way I can make some other excellent recommendations. We don’t have as many choices as LA, and sadly, not a single Ethiopian restaurant. However we do have a great Vietnamese place that just added a whole separate vegetarian menu. Great to see a local spot get some love, thanks for checking it out.

  • hey mac!!! my boyfriend, me, and all of our vegan friends (isla vista & goleta residents) would LOVE to know the name of the vietnamese restaurante!!! please pass it on… how do we not know? thanks!!!

  • Aww yeah – QG representin’ in the SB.

  • *le sigh*. I visited Santa Barbara when i was three. it’s really no fun over here in PA Dutch country. NO.FUN.AT.ALL. Your blog keeps me longing to live this kind of exciting life you have made for yourself.thanks for the awesome perspective!

  • Melissa: Saigon In & Out. They have at least 3 locations, though I usually go to the Milpas one. Here’s their website: http://www.saigoninandout.com/ while their online menu has their old vegetarian options listed (still great) it doesn’t reflect their all new separate veggie menu. I don’t recommend the vegetarian shrimp. Definitely not to my taste. Never tried the veggie salmon after the “shrimp” experience. Tropical hot pot was too sweet for me. But everything else has been great. Lemongrass charbroiled veggie chicken, several different varieties of veggie pho (SOOO good), Vietnamese curries, etc.

  • DAMN, why didn’t I stop there?!

  • Glad you enjoyed our pizza!! I’ve worked my butt off making my pizzeria as organic, local, and also making sure I have a pizza for every dietary preference/need out there. It was tough to get Daiya cheese (took me 6 months to track down a SoCal vendor), but definitely worth the work. We have new vegan toppings: bacon (so crunchy and yummy) and Gardein chicken and we also have ground beef. Our pizza is as clean as it gets, made fresh daily with Organic flours, yeast, organic olive oil, filtered water, and organic sea salt. Guru is evolving more and more each day, and we’re always open to new ideas, new products, and constructive criticism! Thanks Quarry Girl for visiting Guru!

  • SO glad I found your post on Pizza Guru. Went up to SB with a bunch of meat eating friends this past weekend and went there for lunch. Everyone was Happy! My husband and I each got our own 12″ vegan pizzas and a giant pitcher of Stella Artois. All that along with friendly wait staff, easy parking, cool decor, a great outdoor patio and the perfect SB sunny weather made for a great lazy afternoon.

  • Is PA Dutch Country far from New Hope, PA? I was back in NY/NJ for Christmas and ended up taking my mom to a performance of the Christmas Carol out in the middle of nowhere, PA, which just happened to be near this spectacular vegan place, Sprig & Vine. I don’t mean to sound like a metrocentric jerk, but I couldn’t have been more surprised to run across it, it was too cool. Why don’t more small towns have places like this?

    Impartial linkage: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sprig-and-vine-new-hope

  • Just as a follow-up for those curious and within 50-100 miles of the place, Sprig & Vine is pretty similar to QG’s LA fave, Madeleine Bistro, down to the vegan eggs. (They do a mean hollandaise.)

  • Mine never looks like that and is almost always lacking cheese even When I ask for extra. I do agree when not lacking cheese they are the best pizza in town. Don’t skimp on the cheese!!!

    I hate getting bread with sauce and a little cheese on the side…

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