Food & Drink

The 10 best pizzas in San Luis Obispo County

The Michaela pizza at Palo Mesa Pizza, which has locations in Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo, features pepperoni, red onion, pineapple, applewood-smoked bacon and cilantro.
The Michaela pizza at Palo Mesa Pizza, which has locations in Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo, features pepperoni, red onion, pineapple, applewood-smoked bacon and cilantro. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

What makes a pizza perfect?

Is it gooey cheese? Tasty toppings? Crispy yet chewy crust?

Armed with recommendations from The Tribune’s Facebook followers, our intrepid staffers set off in search of San Luis Obispo County’s most satisfying slice.

Here are some of the favorite pizzas we discovered in our quest, from flavorful, wood-fired flatbreads to hearty Sicilian-style pies. (Readers’ favorites also included offerings at Bravo Pizza Plus in Atascadero, Griff’s Bistro & Pizzeria in Templeton, Village Host Pizza & Grill in San Luis Obispo and Pizza Express in Atascadero, Grover Beach and Paso Robles.)

Did we miss your favorite spot? Let us know in the comments.

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dels
The Big Ed’s Sure Thing pizza from Del’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant in Pismo Beach comes with sausage, meatballs, tomato, garlic and onion. Kayla Missman kmissman@thetribunenews.com

Del’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant

$12 to $30

Looking for a heartier slice? Del’s Pizzeria in Pismo Beach doesn’t disappoint. The crust is thick, but still manages to stay crispy on the bottom and airy throughout. Generously loaded with cheese and your pick of toppings — which are all fresh and super flavorful on their own, especially the meats — it comes together in a very satisfying way. Bonus point: Enjoy complimentary rolls with seriously crave-worthy honey butter while you wait. — Kayla Missman

1101 Price St., Pismo Beach | 805-773-4438 or delspizza.com

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Margherita pizza with fresh basil, thinly sliced tomatoes and garlic is a popular menu item at Gino’s Pizza, which has locations in Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Gino’s Pizza

$6.30 to $27.95

Topped with big, juicy tomato slices, long, leafy ribbons of fresh basil and a generous, good-breath-destroying sprinkling of chopped garlic, Gino’s La Margherita is one of the best local examples of the classic pie. But it’s not the only standout at this pizzeria, where the chewy, perfectly cooked crust is a thing of beauty.

You’ll feel the heat with the Spicy Mexican, loaded with chorizo, Italian sausage, jalapeños, onions and tomatoes and showered with cilantro. It’s not for the faint of heart, and that’s a good thing. — Sarah Linn

539 5 Cities Drive, Pismo Beach; 1761 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo | 805-556-0939, 805-752-1333 or www.ginospizzapismo.com, www.ginospizzaslo.com

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At Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica in San Luis Obispo, the classic margherita pizza is topped with tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil on either thick Sicilian or thin Neopolitan crust. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Giuseppe’s

$13 to $24

From the moment the Margherita pizza was delivered to our table, it was love at first sight. The bright green basil leaves on top of the beautiful red sauce! The purity of the melted white mozzarella! The crispy air bubbles!

Giuseppe’s Margherita is a great choice for vegetarians, though it’s not one of the most memorable pies you will ever eat. For that, try Giuseppe’s Gorgonzola — onions caramelized to perfection, mozzarella and, yes, gorgonzola. What it lacks in beauty, it more than makes up for in flavor.

Meat lovers should try the Salsiccia, decked out with tender, slightly sweet house-made sausage, tender red onions and crimini mushrooms on a house-made marinara sauce. The pizza smells and looks delicious, and it delivers. — Laura Dickinson and Stephanie Finucane

849 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo; 891 Price St., Pismo Beach | 805-541-9222, 805-773-2870 or www.giuseppesrestaurant.com

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The veggie pizza at Klondike Pizza, which has locations in Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria, has mushrooms, zucchini, black olives, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions with optional garlic sauce. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Klondike Pizza

$10.99 to $27.99

Atmosphere is a big part of the appeal at Klondike Pizza, a homey pizza joint that wouldn’t look out of place on the Alaskan frontier. Kitsch is king at the original location in the adorable Village of Arroyo Grande — from the mounted moose head to the player piano to the neon beer signs, bumper stickers and travel posters blanketing the walls and ceiling.

The food is fabulous, too. I recommend the Roadkill, a meat lover’s dream with reindeer sausage, pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage and Canadian bacon, or the Veggie pie, a veritable garden of mushrooms, zucchini, black olives, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions that is, indeed, great with garlic sauce.

While you wait for your order, enjoy a complimentary basket of peanuts. (Can’t find a trash can? Just toss the shells on the sawdust-covered floor.) And don’t miss the weekly Tuesday night chowdown, featuring all-you-can-eat pizza plus salad and garlic bread. — Sarah Linn

104 Bridge St., Arroyo Grande, 2059 S. Broadway St. Santa Maria | 805-481-5288, 805-348-3667 or klondikepizza.com

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A pizza at Nardonne’s La Famiglia Pizzeria, which has locations in Atascadero and Los Osos, features tomatoes, basil, olives, onion, artichoke hearts and bell peppers. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Nardonne’s La Famiglia Pizzeria

$13.50 to $33

A good pizza needs to have character, and that starts with the dough and the sauce. Nardonne’s house crust is Sicilian pizza perfection, with a nice balance of crunch around the edges and along the bottom of the pie, which holds up under piles of cheese and toppings.

You can immediately taste the complexities in the homemade sauce, with spices and seasonings coming together to make one of the most delectable flavors you’ve ever tasted on a pizza. With great wine and beer selections, Nardonne’s is without a doubt one of the best spots for a pizza date on the Central Coast. — Chris Dobstaff

8501 El Camino Real, Atascadero; 715 Santa Maria Ave., Los Osos | 805-528-1976, 805-466-8858 or www.facebook.com/nadonnespizzeriabaywoodpark, www.facebook.com/nardonnesatascadero

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A margarita pizza from Nucci’s Pizza in San Luis Obispo is topped with tomatoes, basil, garlic and cheese. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Nucci’s Pizza

$6.45 to $22.75

Nucci’s Pizza has been a San Luis Obispo institution for more than 20 years. The family-owned pizzeria serves up pies with chewy, delicious crust and fresh-tasting ingredients — and the prices can’t be beat, either.

Nucci’s is great for dinner, but their lunch special is the best. For $8.75, you can get a generous slice of cheese pizza, a salad and a delectable breadstick. The restaurant’s Broad Street location has a nice patio area, which is great for a mid-day meal.

I also recommend Nucci’s Hawaiian pizza, which comes with bell peppers and cashews for some extra crunch and flavor.

785 E. Foothill Blvd., San Luis Obispo; 3165 Broad St., San Luis Obispo | 805-542-0152, 805-545-9444 or nuccispizza.com

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A lamb sausage flatbread at Ocean Grill in Avila Beach includes lemon thyme goat cheese cream sauce, pickled red onions and crispy arugula. Courtesy of Ocean Grill

Ocean Grill

$16 to $18.50

OK, so they’re called “flatbreads” here — but let’s be real, they’re pizzas. I love how incredibly light they are, with a perfectly chewy yet thin crust and fresh ingredients. My favorite here is the Pesto flatbread, which comes with dressed arugula, shaved zucchini and tiny, roasted cherry tomatoes, but you can’t go wrong with a classic Margherita. The ambiance here is great for a date night, or just a “treat yourself” night out. — Gabby Ferreira

268 Front St., Avila Beach | 805-595-4050 or oceangrillavila.com

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Palo Mesa Pizza

$10.95 to $39.95 pizza, $10 to $17 wood-fired pizza

For award-winning pie with mountains of delicious toppings and exquisitely crispy crust, look no further than Palo Mesa.

Take the Ken’s Favorite, loaded mile-high with meat and veggies. Zingy banana peppers and black onions cut through the dense, rich cloud of bacon, ham, hamburger, Italian sausage and pepperoni, while green peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms add just a hint of healthiness.

I’m also fond of the Greek, a mouth-watering Mediterranean pie that features pepperoni, feta cheese and veggies sprinkled with oregano, and the Hot Hawaiian, a spicy spin on a tropical favorite. Whatever you order, it’s sure be spectacular. — Sarah Linn

2790 S. Halcyon Road, Arroyo Grande; 906 Rancho Parkway, Arroyo Grande; 150 W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande; 3536 S. Higuera St., No. 206, San Luis Obispo | 805-474-9924, 805-481-7888, 805-904-6807, 805-784-0983 or www.palomesapizza.com

rustic fire
At Rustic Fire in Paso Robles, the roasted veggie pizza comes loaded with mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, tomatoes, red onion, black olives and a generous dusting of Parmesean cheese kmissman@thetribunenews.com Kayla Missman

Rustic Fire

$8.95 to $23.95

When we asked The Tribune’s Facebook followers for pizza recommendations, Rustic Fire was a clear frontrunner — and I can see why. The family-friendly ambiance is relaxed and enjoyable, and there’s a huge variety of items on the menu (not to mention the delicious gelato selection).

I went with the veggie pizza, which came loaded with mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, onion, olives and a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese. The edges were crispy and well-baked, but still airy on the inside. Each element was flavorful on its own; the cheese was satisfyingly gooey without getting too greasy.

My only recommendation? Opt for a pie with fewer wet ingredients. While all the flavors were on point, the thinner crust struggled a bit to hold the weight of all those toppings. — Kayla Missman

1145 24th St., Paso Robles | 805-238-7711 or rusticfire.com

Woodstock's combo
A half-and-half combo from Woodstock’s Pizza in San Luis Obispo features The Bomb on one side and the Garlic Bird on the other.

Woodstock’s Pizza

$6.95 to $27.90

I remember ordering up a slice at Woodstock’s Pizza as a new Cal Poly student. Other pizza restaurants have come and gone in the 30 years since then, but Woodstock’s remains as tasty and welcoming as ever, with its great fold-over crust, savory sauce and gobs of toppings. Pound for pound, I defy you to find another spot in SLO County that loads its pizzas like Woodstock’s.

For an all-around great pick, go for The Bomb, with pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. My No. 2 fave is the Garlic Bird, and the Pesto Primavera is a vegetarian pizza that even ardent meat lovers can enjoy. Feeling adventurous? Try the Too Loaded So Baked, which counts tater tots among its toppings. — Joe Tarica

1000 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo | 805-541-4420 or woodstocksslo.com

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