Pizza Mizza's dough-spinning chefs slather signature sauces on three styles of homemade crust to craft gourmet pies, which serve as headliners for a mouthwatering menu of classic Italian fare. Self-made pizzas ($6.29 plus $0.99 per topping for personal size) flex their artistic muscles by bedecking thin, regular, or thick dough canvases in any combination of 29 meats, cheeses, and veggies. Submit to a chef's intuition to savor gourmet concoctions such as the bacon, basil, and tomato pizza ($8.99 for personal size) or the chicken and caramelized-walnut pizza ($8.99). A spicy chicken and avocado sandwich ($8.99) rests upon toasted sourdough bread and partners with a tortilla soup topped with avocado and pico de gallo ($3.99), creating a perfect lunchtime pairing. Unlike an edible gondola, the hearty chicken Alfredo ($9.99) floats atop linguine, broccoli, and fresh Parmesan to satiate stomachs with a taste of old-world Italy. Pizza Mizza’s assorted kids' menu pleases youngsters with pared down portions, and a dog-friendly outdoor patio pleases parents of furry children.
At first glance, the menu of Restaurant Open might appear simple and static with a selection of sandwiches and burgers. This, however, is only half of the story. Each day, the restaurant's chefs post daily specials, and here is where the restaurant shines. Not only do they "freestyle" improvised, off-the-menu dishes after conversing with patrons, but they also mingle in nearby markets and chat up vendors, looking for interesting ingredients to convert into the specials for that day's morning and afternoon. A quick browse through a photostream shows off delectable selections. Tri-tip filets sizzle on a grill, ready to be cut and put into tortas, sandwiches, or the mouths of passersby. Noodles swirl with veggies and sesame oil to be converted into lo mein, while fresh cuts of fish and whole lobsters rest on ice. Other specials—detailed on the restaurant's whiteboard—include meatball sandwiches and honey batter-dipped corn dogs.
An ideal place for anybody looking for a slower-paced atmosphere that still offers plenty to do, Uptown Bar & Lounge seeks to serve as a neighborhood bar for all types. The recently renovated lounge is divided into distinct sections. A gleaming granite bar supports 12 taps and shelves full of high-end spirits, and visitors perched on leather chairs at high-top tables gaze at 13 flat-screen TVs broadcasting sporting events. Classy touches—an old-fashioned cash register here, a piano there—elevate the space from the typical sports bar.
Elsewhere, two red-felted pool tables are an outlet for the casually competitive, while a seating area appointed with sofas provides a refuge for guests who can't watch a shot clock count down without turning into a pumpkin at the buzzer. Also, parts of the bar are converted into a rousing music venue to host open-mic nights, DJ sessions, and live bands. The back patio, with its couches, fire pits, and additional TV, is a pleasant spot to enjoy a cool Santa Barbara evening, especially when you include a pizza cooked in the outdoor oven.
When creating a pie, cooks at Paesano's Pizzeria adhere to the tradition of NYC's pizza chefs from start to finish. They begin with fresh ingredients, kneading pizza dough from scratch. Next, they hand-toss the pies into circles ready for toppings. After slathering on freshly made sauce and toppings such as italian sausage or fresh mushrooms, they stone-bake the pizzas. You can buy it by the slice or by the pie, or opt for another Italian staple such as a hot sub or lasagna.
The chefs at Gino’s Sicilian Express pile house-made crusts with fresh tomato sauce and all-natural mozzarella cheese to animate a menu of more than 20 New York–style pizzas, as well as calzones and a selection of beer and wine. Pies range from classics, such as the margarita ($12–$16) and pepperoni ($13–$17), to specialty creations ($16–$20) such as the Polpette, festooned with basil, garlic, and sicilian meatballs. The Spinaccia pizza, strewn with fresh spinach and feta cheese, is also amenable to the New York fold-and-bite or the Antarctica freeze-and-lick technique. Diners taste test crust-free creations with a handful of hot wings ($4–$7) or sandwiches such as the chicken parmesan ($5). Chefs also present an evolving selection of desserts; ask Gino’s staff about the day’s saccharine selection or their opinions on mixing corduroy and plaid.
A link to Santa Barbara's past, Aldo's Italian Ristorante resides on the grounds of the Janssens-Orella adobe house, which was built in 1857 and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1986, Aldo's has done its part to write its own chapter into the historic site's story, serving homemade Italian specialties for lunch and dinner every day of the week. During visits, diners may enjoy freshly prepared dishes inside amid ornate pillars and elegant artwork, or outside in the heated courtyard.