Tired of those frozen, “It’s not delivery!” pizzas stacked in the freezer? Let On the Menu offer up the doughs and doughn’ts of some of the tastiest pizza parlors in town.

Luigi Party

Luigi’s Pizza and Pasta
5711 Calle Real
(805) 964-6433
Price: Under $10

If the words “fun center” and “pizza” in the same sentence call to mind places like Chuck E. Cheese’s, where pizza quality often takes a backseat to games and prizes, let a trip to Luigi’s Pizza and Pasta demonstrate the compatibility between fun and fine food.

Walking into Luigi’s customers encounter bright posters lining the walls, the smell of fresh food permeating the air, and a bounty of arcade games just around the corner. Luigi’s manager Arturo Hernandez said the establishment is often a beginning job for many local youth.

“Most of the Santa Barbara and Goleta children have their first job here,” Hernandez said.

When the students graduate, whether from the high school, UCSB or SBCC, Hernandez said they graduate from Luigi’s as well.

Hernandez also said Luigi’s has produced fresh-tasting food since 1990 and has become a popular favorite of families ever since.

They have a variety of specialty pizzas that reflect Luigi’s close relationship with the local community, including a pizza called the Santa Barbara. It is topped with a unique combination of ham, bell pepper, tomato, olive and an unusual but utterly delicious addition of fresh-sliced avocado.

They also have a pizza called the Gaucho, which Hernandez said is sure to please the diverse pallets of UCSB.

“The Gaucho pizza is very unique because half is vegetarian and the other half is meat supreme,” he said.

The spicy Cajun chicken pizza offers a refreshing spin on your average pizza. With BBQ sauce mixing up the monotony of marinara, and with onion, cilantro, bell pepper, a bit of spice and succulent chicken topping it off, this pizza is as diverse as it is delicious.

They put high quality ingredients into their pies, Hernandez said, including 100 percent real mozzarella and flavorful pasta sauce, with their bread and pizza dough all made fresh daily.

“When you taste the dough here, you are going to see it’s different than many places,” Hernandez said.

The dough is a delightful balance between deep-dish Chicago and thin New York style. For those who like their pizzas with as much crust as possible, try one of their calzones, which come in three sizes – just like their pizza – with the delicious toppings tucked inside a blanket of warm pizza bread.

As a family restaurant, Luigi’s offers several specials that customers of all ages are sure to enjoy. This month they have an all-you-can-eat pizza, soda and salad special for only $9.99, including tax, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Also this month, any pasta with salad or soup and a glass of wine, beer or soda, is only $12 including tax, Hernandez said.

“It is like a $21 deal for $12,” he said.

Top off the meal with a slice of rich, moist cheesecake and another round of games at the pizza parlor’s arcade.

With a wide selection of pizzas, a welcoming atmosphere and a fun zone, Luigi’s customers are sure to find that balance between games galore and gourmet grub. Treat your senses to Luigi’s Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

What’s in a Name?

Paesano’s Pizzeria
429 San Andres St.
(805) 962-2065
Price: $10 – $20

For a real New York-style pizza experience from the comfort of Santa Barbara, head to Paesano’s Pizzeria for a taste as authentic as Little Italy. Jerri Delaplane, who owns the restaurant with her daughter, said the restaurant has been around for 12 and a half years and has a steady customer base that keeps coming back for their tasty traditional pizza.

“We are a very traditional, old-fashioned kind of pizza place here,” Delaplane said. “This is a small family-owned and operated restaurant in a small neighborhood,”

Pepperoni and cheese are their most popular pizzas, and while that may sound boring to some, the flavors here are so delectable that no extra toppings are necessary in order to appreciate the quality taste.

From the marinara sauce, quality cheese and crust so thin it can easily fold into a sandwich, all the ingredients come together to form a delicious pie.

For those who prefer diversity to simplicity in their pizza samplings, Paesano’s offers plenty of toppings to choose from, including various vegetables and meats like sausage, salami and Canadian bacon.

Standout specialty pizzas include the combination pizza with everything on it, and the popular Greek pizza which comes complete with roasted eggplant, fresh tomatoes, garlic and feta cheese.

The eatery offers three desserts to round off the night that will please anyone’s pallet: the decadent New York cheesecake, a traditional Italian tiramisu and comforting chocolate chip cookies that are baked in-house and are three for $1.

For a pizza you can’t refuse, Paesano’s is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Stop by from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the $5 lunch special: a slice of pizza, a salad and a soda.

Little Slices of Heaven

Pizza by the Slice
4 W. De La Guerra St.
(805) 730-1212
Price: Under $10

For a speedy yet scrumptious bite to eat, stop by Pizza by the Slice, conveniently located right off of State Street downtown.

In addition to all of the standard pizza classics, Pizza by the Slice offers an exotic pie called the Chorizo Pizza.

Hamid Falahi, who has owned the restaurant for almost nine years, said that his investment in quality ingredients is part of what makes the Chorizo and all of their pizzas so delicious – from the 100 percent real mozzarella they use, to his decision to use real beef chorizo instead of pork.

“Beef chorizo is more expensive, but better quality,” Falahi said.

Another pizza that adds a flavorful foreign flair to the traditional Italian pie is the Greek Vegetable pizza. This popular pizza is topped with fresh spinach, juicy black olives, red onion, tomato, pepperocinis and crumbles of feta cheese.

The barbecue chicken pizza, another one of their most-loved pizzas, is made to ensure that the tangy taste of barbecue sauce bursts through every bite.

“We use barbecue sauce and olive oil for the base, then we marinate the chicken in the barbecue sauce,” Falahi said.

Falahi said that he tries to find the highest quality ingredients he can get, from their fresh olives to their zesty sauce, and it makes all the difference in the taste of their pizzas.

“I buy the highest quality of pepperoni, which is less oily,” Falahi said. “It is more expensive, but it’s worth it. I get a lot of compliments about the pizza.”

Pizza by the Slice offers a selection of specials, including one that features a slice of pizza, a salad and a soda for $6.90. They also offer two slices and a soda for $7.90.

Head down to Pizza by the Slice Monday through Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday the eatery is open until 2:30 a.m., so those looking for a good bite in the night can find a slice of savory satisfaction.

Taste Nirvana

Pizza Guru
3534 State St.
(805) 563-3250
Price: $10 – $20

The path to enlightenment is only a short walk from the bustling end of upper State Street, toward a quiet and more remote location perfect for sitting and enjoying a slice of pizza.

Steven Baker and Nathan Allman opened Pizza Guru only a year and a half ago, but Baker said the restaurant has already developed a dedicated following of customers, both vegan and carnivorous, seeking their own slice of transcendence.

“We have a huge vegan customer base,” Baker said.

With vegan cheese, vegan wheat crust and an expansive selection of veggies, the doors to the dreamy world of pizza are open to all. Baker also said the restaurant’s plethora of toppings can appeal to a range of customers.

“We offer a variety of different toppings that a lot of people don’t,” Baker said.

Their most popular pizza, the White House Pie, is sure to satisfy those who cannot enjoy pizza to its fullest without a side of ranch.

The pizza starts with their signature Garlic White Sauce and is topped with a combination of “succulent grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, garlic, basil, onions, sun dried tomatoes and cilantro,” Baker said.

For those thrill seekers who find marinara mundane, Pizza Guru has a selection of five different sauces to experiment with, including barbecue, pesto and curry.

Another popular pizza that truly lives up to its name is the Pizza Nirvana. This combination of roasted eggplant, juicy zucchini, mushrooms, mixed bell peppers, olives and garlic is made complete with fresh feta cheese sprinkled all over.

The Guru Special is a sublime combination of fresh spinach, garlic, onions and Tandoori chicken, all atop a fresh-tasting crust.

For those who like to end the meal with dessert, the Pizza Tart consists of pizza dough sugared up with a topping of jelly and icing, which should meet the need for sweets.

Thursday through Sunday, when you buy one large, one-topping pizza and a large mixed green salad, you can get a free two-liter drink.

Although you may not have a large Italian family to dine with here at school, Baker said Sunday night is family night at Pizza Guru. Make sure to pick up a large, one-topping pizza and a large mixed green salad to get a free two-liter soda and a choice of fresh baked garlic bread or breadsticks.

Additionally, Baker said that the eatery offers a daily happy hour special for those 21 and up.

“Happy hour everyday is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.,” he said. “We have two pints and five pitchers and we have six different beers on tap.”

With a diverse selection of gourmet pizzas, toppings and specials, the Pizza Guru is sure to provide flavorful fulfillment daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

No matter how you like to top off your pizza experience, it’s hard to resist a slice of the Italian life at these local pizza palaces.