Buzzworthy Pizza in Santa Cruz County

Nothing captures the spirit of Santa Cruz County more than grabbing a slice of pizza and heading to the beach to soak up the sun, have fun, and enjoy some delicious food. In Santa Cruz County, pizza enthusiasts will find themselves in a gastronomic haven where creativity, flavor, and quality blend seamlessly in every slice. Santa Cruz has many fantastic classic pizzerias, like Pizza My Heart, Pleasure Pizza, and Woodstock’s, which have stood the test of time. Recently, the pizza scene in Santa Cruz County has exploded with a new wave of innovative and buzzworthy eateries pushing the boundaries of traditional pizza-making. Santa Cruz County offers an array of delectable options to suit every palate, including classic New York-style slices, Detroit square pizzas, and traditional Italian. Whether you’re a fan of the timeless simplicity of a Margherita pizza or crave bold and inventive flavor combinations, Santa Cruz County has something special in store for you. In this blog, we invite you to embark on a mouthwatering journey as we uncover the buzzworthy pizza spots that make Santa Cruz County a true pizza lover’s dream.

#1. Venus Pie Trap

This beachside eatery across the street from Rio Del Mar State Beach brings a taste of the East Coast to Santa Cruz. The delicious brainchild of Sean Venus, the founder of Venus Spirits and the West Side Kitchen and Cocktails, Venus Pie Trap brings together local baked goods, house-made pies, locally roasted coffee, craft cocktails, and New Haven-style pizzas. The iconic New Haven classic, the Clam Pizza, shines on Venus Pie Trap’s menu as a unique and buzzworthy pie everyone has to try! Everything is made with fresh local ingredients, showcasing inventive flavor combinations like fennel, leek, and sausage. Don’t miss out on their dessert pies, which are all made in-house with love and care. The gluten-free Mexican hot chocolate pie is out of this world, and the salted caramel apple pie served hot with whipped cream is a must for anyone looking to pair their pizza pie with real pie! All menu items, from their perfectly simple Ricotta Pesto pizza and the classic Margherita to their creative twists on traditional New Haven pies, will take your tastebuds on a journey! 

#2. Pizza Series

The newest addition to Scotts Valley’s food scene is Pizza Series, where Matt Driscoll, who has been slinging pies for the last 26 years, dishes out seriously delicious Detroit-style and New York Pizza. The masterful creations at Pizza Series are bursting with flavor, cheesy goodness, and fresh ingredients that combined make some of the best pizza in Santa Cruz County. The perfectly crisp cheesy crust of the Detroit-style square pan pizzas adds depth and complexity to these phenomenal pies. The Pep & More Detroit-style pizza is a must-try menu item that features crispy pepperoni, spicy Italian sausage, caramelized onions, whipped ricotta, and red sauce topped with fresh basil and house-made Calabrian chili honey. Pizza Series has been bringing great pizza to Scotts Valley since 2014 in several different locations and pop-ups, but now they are opening up their new brick-and-mortar in Kings Village with indoor and outdoor patio seating.

#3. Bookies Pizza

Bookie’s Pizza is a local gem tucked away inside Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Portal. Their delicious square pizzas, which they affectionately deem “inauthentic Detroit style pizza,” feature unique flavor combinations like BBQ chicken or ‘nduja, anchovies, and pineapple. Their menu is filled with innovative flavors like strawberry and stracciatella pizza made with strawberry tomato marinara. The creativity behind each menu item, from the different sauces to the imaginative pairings of ingredients, makes these pizzas unique. The ingredients all come from local farms, fishermen, and foragers. Their distinctive and flavorful dough is naturally leavened for 48 hours, making each pizza a labor of love. Their coastal California-inspired pizza pairs perfectly with the distinctive world-class beers from Sante Adairius.

#4. Buzzo Wood Fired Pizza

This new pizza spot in Soquel serves up well-crafted woodfired pizzas right next to Beer Thirty, where patrons can bring their food to enjoy their pizza alongside craft beers in an outdoor setting with games like ping-pong and cornhole. During lunchtime, Buzzo offers take-out only. They also have a casual sit-down experience for dinner where customers can watch their pizzas getting fired in a 900-degree oven as they sip wine and eat appetizers. At Buzzo, they like to use almond and apple wood to stoke their wood-fired oven, which helps create their distinctly smokey and blistered crusts. Their simple, well-crafted menu features favorites like the Potato pizza with bacon, chives, and egg yolk and classics like pepperoni or Margherita. Whether dining in or taking out, these wood-fired pizzas highlight the beauty of simple but well-crafted artisan pizza.

#5. Slice Project

In Downtown Watsonville, Slice Project is bringing two classics together to share their passion for pizza and beer with the public. At Slice Project, the team of brothers behind the restaurant focuses on crafting perfect classic pizzas through dedication to homemade ingredients like their stellar red sauce created from a unique blend of fresh oregano, spices, and local tomatoes. They offer traditional New York-style pizzas with huge slices and Detroit-style pizzas made with Wisconsin brick cheese that helps create the perfectly addictive crispy cheese crust. Slice Project has an awesome curated collection of local craft beers like Humble Sea, Discretion, Slough Brewing Collective, and Alvarado Street Brewery to pair with their pizzas. This excellent family-run business is genuinely dedicated to the craft of pizza making, and each slice highlights the love and care that goes into its creation.

#6. Mentone

David Kinch’s latest culinary venture, Mentone, recently earned a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide for cuisine inspired by the French and Italian Riviera. Amidst an excellent and extensive menu of culinary delights, their pizza is the real star of their dinner and lunch menus. Their woodfired Italian-style pizza has a fluffy and pillowy crust that is perfectly fire-kissed, creating an unparalleled depth of flavor to their dough. Each pizza features fresh seasonal ingredients and pairs with an extensive wine and cocktail list, including their iconic frozen Aperol Spritz. The Soppressata is a must-try menu staple with crispy salami, gooey aged mozzarella, and pickled Calabrian chilis. The lunch service on the weekend is the perfect time to grab a pizza from Mentone and sit out on their outdoor patio.

#7. La Marea Café and Pizzeria

Santa Cruz County has a new pizza haven that’s making waves with its unique offerings and delectable flavors. La Marea, meaning ‘the tide’ in Italian, is not just your average pizzeria; it’s a culinary experience curated by Chef Jayne Droese. Nestled at the former site of Reef Dog Deli on 311 Capitola Ave., La Marea boasts a diverse menu that goes beyond traditional pizzas by offering focaccia-style pizzas on a sourdough base. Her signature pizzas feature perfectly crafted sourdough crust paired with seasonal and local ingredients that make La Marea a must-try for pizza enthusiasts. Crafted with care and attention, each square pizza embodies the elegance of slow, meticulous preparation, from the process of fermenting sourdough to the baking of a perfectly crispy cheese crown crust. La Marea is not just about pizza; it’s a full-fledged café serving specialty coffee from Syllable Coffee, sourdough bagels, house-made pastries, and seasonal delights, which have all quickly made La Marea a local favorite you have to try!