Try to think about how many pizzas you’ve eaten in the last 30 years. Whatever the number, it will pale in comparison to how many Mark and Jennifer Anderson have served at Central Coast Pizza.
Mark estimated that they’ve baked more than a million pies during the almost 30 years they’ve been at their Atascadero location in the Vons Shopping Center on El Camino Real.
For most of those three decades, the restaurant was operated as a Round Table Pizza franchise. Mark started in management with the company in the early 1970s, then he and Jennifer bought partially into the Atascadero location “in about 1982, and bought the whole thing in 1984.”
About three years ago, the Andersons decided to operate as an independent pizza parlor, and Central Coast Pizza was born (also with recently added locations in Paso Robles and King City). Though Jennifer noted that Round Table “is a great product,” the couple decided to separate from the franchise so they could exercise more creativity, add additional menu items and have more control overall.
“We’ve kind of gone old school with what we’re doing now,” said Mark. “We do things like grate our own cheese every day and make our own red and white sauces. It’s more work and less money, but it’s worth it.”
Among the new items quickly gaining in popularity are the artisan pizzas, which Jennifer noted “have about 25 percent less fat” than a customary pizza of the same size. Starting with a thinner crust, the pies are then topped with your choice of meat, slightly spicy red sauce, Roma tomatoes, caramelized red onion, four cheeses, and a sprinkling of salty Kalamata olives.
Of course, Central Coast Pizza does offer all the usual suspects as well.
You can always make up your own pizza, or choose from one of the specialty pies such as BBQ Chicken, Garlic Chicken Supreme, Veggie Delight, or a Supreme Combo loaded with pepperoni, salami, linguica and Italian sausage.
For a little more kicked-up flavor, try a Hawaiian Supreme with Thai sweet chili sauce and bacon, or a Mediterranean with a mix of pesto and red sauce, black olives, chicken, artichoke hearts, feta cheese and chopped pepperoncinis.
“Our main product is obviously pizza,” said Mark, “but we do have other alternatives for people.”
Among those are a popular salad bar, spicy Buffalo wings, spaghetti with Jennifer’s own “very kid-friendly” sauce, and several sandwiches ranging from turkey pesto club to a gourmet veggie to calzones.
With that kid-friendly attitude, Central Coast Pizza is the perfect place for team get-togethers, and its walls are covered with photographs of various youth sports teams that the restaurant sponsors.
In addition, the Andersons regularly host elementary school and Head Start field trips (the children get to make their own cheese pizzas afterwards), and the restaurant is available for a variety of fundraisers such as “takeover nights” where groups get a percentage of the evening’s sales.
This being a pizza parlor, it’s a great place to bring the whole family — kids can enjoy the video arcade room and there’s a Sunday family brunch that’s only $5 a person.
It’s also an easy spot for a quick weekday lunch buffet (plan ahead on the busy 2-for-1 Tuesdays and Fridays), and with five televisions scattered throughout and premium beers such as Firestone and Fat Tire on tap, it’s a comfortable place for adults to watch the big games.
All in all, Central Coast Pizza is exactly what you want and expect from a neighborhood pizzeria that’s been a part of the community for almost 30 years.