The Cheesiest, Crustiest, Sauciest, Best Pizza in Santa Cruz

Best Pizza Santa Cruz

Pizza may have first appeared in Italy over 7000 years ago, but there’s no doubt that Americans have taken the simple dish and made it their own, from deep-dish in Chicago to fold-over in Brooklyn.

The best variations in Santa Cruz run the gamut from gourmet to greasy, but they are united by their tastiness and individuality.

Attempting to name the best pizza in Santa Cruz is no easy task, given the subjective nature of the topic.  Below are our picks, in no particular order.  Let the argument debate begin…

 Tony and Alba’s

This family establishment started in Mountain View, but with three locations in the area, Tony and Alba’s is now a thoroughly Santa Cruzan favorite.  They’re the one-time winner of Best Pizza in America from the American Pizza and Pasta Association, and it’s easy to see why when feasting on a Tony’s Special.

The use of local ingredients, like Gilroy garlic and Morgan Hill mushrooms, make this much more than a standard family pizza place.

Capitola
1501 41st Ave.

Santa Cruz
817 Soquel Ave.

Scotts Valley
226 Mt Hermon Rd.

Pleasure Pizza

This joint rules the East Side with its perfectly crisped thin crust, on-point sauce, and creative pizzas like The Abyss, with garlic shrimp, pesto and lemon slices.  They also offer much more than pizza at their East-Side Eatery, like fried pickels for appetizers.  They recently expanded to Pacific Avenue, much to the delight of the downtown crowd.

Pleasure Pizza By The Slice
4000 Portola Drive

East Side Eatery
800 41st Ave.

Downtown
1415 Pacific Ave.

Bantam

When Bantam opened in late 2012, it instantly became the hot new restaurant in town, and for good reason.  Owned by a former pizza-maker at Bay Area legend Chez Panisse, Bantam brought progressive and sophisticated cooking that was too often missing in Santa Cruz.  Though you can find a variety of delectable Italian dishes at Bantam, a rotating menu of gourmet pizzas with toppings like nettles, el Salchichero pepperoni, and Italian chicory is the star of the show.

1010 Fair Ave
Santa Cruz, CA

Pizza My Heart

When you mention ‘pizza’ and ‘Santa Cruz’ to someone anywhere else in California, their mind will likely go immediately to Pizza My Heart.  Indeed, the chain is so popular for its generous slices, surfer-themed decor, and cool T-Shirts that it’s spread from Capitola to all over the Bay Area.  Those who eat there on a regular basis will tell you that the Slice of the Day makes it worth it every day of the week.

See all locations here.

Engfer Pizza Works

Engfer has a comfortable atmosphere, with an always friendly staff.  But it’s the pizza that steals the show.  Their menu features many original and creative wood-fired pizzas.  Add a great selection of beer, wine, and a ping pong table, and you’ve got one of the best pizza spots in town.

If you haven’t been to Engfer’s then imagine the pizzeria equivalent to Zocolli’s.  Grab your drink from the fridge, order at the counter, and enjoy the informal neighborhood style atmosphere.

537 Seabright Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA

Rocker’s Pizza Kitchen

As is evident on this list, eating pizza these days can often be refined, sophisticated experience.  That can’t be said of Rocker’s Pizza Kitchen, and thank heavens for that.  The greasy, cheesy, crusty delight, sold out of a window on Pacific Avenue next to the Catalyst, Rockers probably won’t be winning any awards anytime soon, but it will always have a place in our hearts for their satisfying cheap bar pizza.
1011 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 

Woodstock’s

A fixture of most university towns in California, Woodstock’s manages to make a unique mark on each community, including Santa Cruz.  The quintessential pizza-and-beer hangout, Woodstock’s has great happy hours and trivia nights, as well as tasty thick-crust pies like the All-Meat Orgy and the Kauai Pie, their spicy twist on a traditional Hawaiian pizza.

710 Front St
Santa Cruz, CA

Pizzeria Avanti

Another gourmet pizza place in the vein of Bantam, Pizzeria Avanti offers top-notch ingredients and wine in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere.  You’ll almost feel like you stepped from traffic-heavy Mission Street into a little cafe in Italy, if only it wasn’t for the finger-licking-good buffalo wings on the appetizer menu.

1711 Mission St
Santa Cruz, CA

You’ll no doubt notice that we didn’t include every pizza joint in town.  Did we miss your favorite?  Let us know in the comments!

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About Blair Stenvick

Blair Stenvick is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for four years.

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