Pizza is delicious no matter where you eat it, but there’s something extra special about a hand-crafted pie by the coast in California. The local restaurants use fresh, quality ingredients, cook the crust to perfection, and they’re conveniently located only minutes away from the Pacific Ocean. Plus, most of them also serve a variety of other authentic Italian dishes too, and a great selection of beer and wine to pair with. These are just a few of the many local hot spots near the coast to pick up a slice.
1. Sunset Pizza & Pasta – Sunset Beach
Sunset Pizza & Pasta is the place to go for authentic pizzas, calzones, pasta and other Italian dishes. Their tiny shop is in a prime location next to the surf in Sunset Beach, along the Pacific Coast Highway.
They start you off with a basket of fresh garlic bread – a great appetizer before their BBQ Chicken (pictured above), Margherita, or Classic Pesto pizzas. Or if you’re looking for a healthier option to start, try cutting out the bread and pairing your pie with a fresh house salad.
2. Pizza On Pearl – La Jolla
If you’re craving New York-style pizza by the coast, head to La Jolla’s Pizza On Pearl and you’ll be in thin-crust heaven. The restaurant has a classic pizza parlor atmosphere, serving whole pies and slices, calzones, stromboli, and desserts to top it all off.
They serve both red and white pizza pies, a variety of slice & drink (or salad) combos, and desserts worth saving room for. We recommend topping off your meal with some of their melt-in-your-mouth cannoli, Tiramisu, or chocolate Bundt cake.
3. Pandora’s Pizza – Encinitas
Greek-themed, Pandora’s Pizza is a fun little joint to get classic and creative pizzas (many of which are named after Greek icons, like the Poseidon and the Aphrodite). They also have gluten-free options, and a great selection of beer and wine to pair with your slices.
Doesn’t this pic just make you drool a bit? This one – called the Hymettus – comes topped with macaroni, cheddar, bacon, mozzarella, sour cream, chives, onions, and breadcrumbs. The creativity in their pies is limitless, and that’s really what makes them so special.
4. Red West Pizza – Wilmington
Red West Pizza is a local hot spot for pizza and wings, also conveniently located along the Pacific Coast Highway. Their pizza’s made with a thin, crispy crust and wide selection of fresh toppings.
They also offer beer pitchers, and a bar where you can make your own salad. Pictured is a combo of their Pineapple & Ham pizza on the left, and their Honky Tonk special on the right (with pepperoni, sausage, ham, salami, mushrooms, olives, onions, and green peppers).
5. Woodstock’s Pizza – Santa Cruz
As you can probably tell from the name, Woodstock’s Pizza is a chill place to get pies, salads, and other appetizers in Santa Cruz. Their pizzas come loaded with fresh mozzarella and all kinds of topping combos, and there’s a delicious variety of gluten-free options here too.
You can customize and make your own pizza, or just go with one of their classic topping combos. And if you love pairing a cold beer with your pizza, they’ve got all of your IPA and hoppy needs covered. Woodstock’s has a fantastic selection of ice cold offerings, including a lot of tempting micro-brews.
6. Ameci’s East Coast Pizzeria – Multiple locations
A list of great pizza in California would not be complete without Amici’s East Coast Pizza. With a multitude of locations throughout the Bay area, you know they must be doing something right. They make brick oven wood-fired pizzas with a thin-crust just like you would see back in NY.
There are Amici locations everywhere from San Francisco to Mountain View, Redwood Shores, San Rafael, and more, with delivery and online ordering available for local pizza lovers. Here’s everywhere you can find them.
7. Gusto Handcrafted Pasta & Pizza – Seaside
Gusto is a cozy neighborhood spot in Seaside for handcrafted pizza and pastas. They use fresh ingredients on their pies, like San Marzano tomatoes and local wild mushrooms, and their pasta dishes vary from the classic lasagna to raviolis, spaghetti, and seafood linguine.
Beer and wine lovers can also find a great choice of beverages on the menu here. Listed is a wide variety of red, rose, white, and sparkling wines, as well as bottled beers and ice cold brews on tap. Or if you’re here for lunch, they can also make you an excellent cup of warm espresso.
8. Spruzzo Restaurant & Bar – Malibu
Spruzzo in Malibu has everything you need for a great meal: specialty wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and an outdoor patio where you can dine over ocean views that are second to none.
The crust can be made original, thin, or lavash, and their toppings range from Thai Chicken and BBQ Chicken to appetizing vegetarian options aside from the three-cheese. If someone in your group’s not feeling like pizza, they also make fantastic pasta dishes, and other entrees like a beer-battered Eggplant Parmigiana.
I don’t know about you, but these photos are making me super hungry. Of course, these are just a few of the many great places to get pizza by the coast in California. Where are some of your favorite restaurants to stop for a slice?