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Straw Hat's intricately interwoven history began with a crispy California crust, light sauce, secret six-cheese blend, and the dream of pizza for all. Today, a team of expert dough slingers spin out a slew of cheesy disks atop their dexterous digits and make that dream a reality, except for the part where you're naked at your old high school for some reason. Zealous pizzavores can drop in for a 15-inch six-cheese version or create a one-topping model by choosing from 25 different garnishes, including linguica, chorizo, and more. Walls of blithesome memorabilia, an arcade, and big-screen televisions constitute a fun environment where families and friends can chow down while catching up.

2026 Freedom Blvd
Freedom,
CA
US

The staff at Pleasure Pizza's East Side Eatery has had more than 35 years to curate their eclectic menu. The restaurant serves sandwiches, brunch, and house-specialty entrees, including fish tacos and fish and chips, that chef Derek Rupp makes with an eye to locally source food, a subject in which he has extensive knowledge.

800 41st Ave
Santa Cruz,
CA
US

Husband-and-wife owners Joe and Georgette Hammana developed a knack for restauranteering while working in the family restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon. After immigrating to the United States, the duo opened Joe’s Pizza & Subs, which serves New York–style pizza pies and more than 50 sandwiches and burgers. The menu, which contains many of Georgette’s original recipes and grade-school report cards, offers something for everyone, from specialty pizzas to vegan and Middle Eastern cuisine.

1207 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz,
CA
US

Like clockwork, the dining room lights begin to flicker and the servers suddenly disappear. Music begins playing and diners are soon treated to a five-minute performance—complete with a choreographed dance number, a series of flames erupting from the grill tops, and a jaw-dropping display of dexterity from the eatery's internationally recognized pizza-spinning competitors. This happens every Friday and Saturday night at Kianti's Pizza & Pasta Bar, and it's exactly the sort of vibrant, festive atmosphere that owners Kelly Kissee and Tracy Parks-Barber wanted to create when they founded the restaurant in 2004.

Applause-inducing entertainment aside, the main goal of the servers and the chefs is to treat their guests to family-style Italian cooking and routine high fives. Diners can customize their own personal pizzas by adding as many as 30 different toppings—including everything from italian sausage and garlic to mushrooms and almonds—before the chefs bake each pie to an oven-crisped golden brown. Additionally, the menu features hearty sub sandwiches, pasta dishes smothered with garlic cream sauce, and hand-formed meatballs.

1100 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz,
CA
US

The Dutchman's Pizza & Pasta staff hand-rolls dough, stirs pots of their signature pizza sauce, and tops pies with locally harvested veggies. They have stuck with this tradition for more than three decades. In addition to baking nine pre-fabricated premium pizzas, they use their collected culinary wisdom to line sandwiches with housemade meatballs, deli cuts, and other parts of secret recipes passed down from the Fabulous Feasts branch of the Illuminati. Beyond pies and sandwiches, the team initiates guests into the Dutchman's Pizza & Pasta traditions by welcoming them to drink pitchers of beer, play a round on an arcade game, and watch sporting events.

6940 Chestnut St.
Gilroy,
CA
US