Pizza Restaurants Vie for a Piece of the Pie
Canyon Country has approximately 17 pizza restaurants. And more are on the way. The owner of Athena’s will soon be opening Mama Mia Pizza next door, for example.
Americans are spending more money than ever dining out, totaling $680 billion per year, according to an article in Consumer Reports last year. And an industry trade magazine, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies, reported last year that pizza is second to only hamburgers in menu popularity. Research showed that 75 percent of consumers eat pizza at least twice a month.
Every single pizza establishment can’t have the best pizza in town. So, what are their selling points? How do they set themselves apart from the others?
When describing their pizza, one of the first words you hear from owners is “fresh.” And with today’s consumers more vigilant than ever about ingredients, it makes sense.
“We make everything from scratch and by hand and we use all items that are as fresh as can be,” says Maria Caruso, owner of Caruso’s II, a Canyon Country landmark for decades. “Most of our customers recognize our pizza and they know our pizza isn’t (bought) at a store – we make it ourselves.”
The most popular pizza, says Caruso, is a recipe she created a few years ago that includes olive oil, garlic, onion, tomato slices and basil. The restaurant is sizable, with a capacity for 75 diners and a private room seating 40.
Guido’s Pizza, across from Friendly Valley, has hand-tossed pizza, never made with a machine.
“Regulars” often choose the Barbecue Pizza, consisting mostly of chicken, cilantro and red onion. “The Works” is a favorite menu item for customers who love the pizza’s 18 toppings, says Guido’s Manager Blanca Zuniga.
The word that comes to mind for Ahad Bagherdai, owner of Round Table Pizza on the corner of Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon Road, is “quality.” When his employees assemble such big sellers as King Arthur’s Supreme or the Chicken Garlic Gourmet pizzas, all the ingredients are measured. “The quality of the cheese and the sauce is famous,” says Bagherdai. “Our bread dough we make every day fresh.”
At Oggi’s, fresh pizza dough is used for more than just pizza. Customers can order flatbreads or Oggi Sticks, where the bread is combined with such ingredients as mozzarella, parmesan and parsley, and served with dipping sauces. Said manager Mark Bennett, there’s a new addition to the menu coming later this month: Jamaican Jerk Pizza.
One of Canyon Country’s newest arrivals is Toppers Pizza on Soledad Canyon Road, and owner Evan Jonker considers their chain “a modern take on the traditional family pizza place.”
“When you walk in the door a selection of 22 beers greets you,” says Jonkers. “As our name suggests, we are known for having different toppings and unusual combinations that you likely won’t find anywhere else. We have pizzas like a Carnitas Chipotle, Spicy Garlic Italian with house roasted grape tomatoes, or a Hot Honey that features a honey drizzle on top.”
Toppers has a salad bar with produce delivered every day. They also make most of their own salad dressings. Their aim is to become the fastest delivery restaurant in Santa Clarita.
The family-owned Venice Pizzeria on Sierra Highway delivers to a three-mile radiuswithin 40 minutes or you can order a pizza that’s ready for pick up in 10-15 minutes, says owner Esteban Anzures. The restaurant’s most popular pizza pickups are the Carne Asada and the Al Pastor pizza, which has onions, cilantro and green spicy sauce.
In December, Papa Murphy’s opened in Santa Clarita, offering a different pizza dining experience. Instead of eating in or picking up a freshly baked pizza, you take one home and bake it yourself.
Many residents hope Canyon Country can support all of the pizza options in town. But, time will tell if there’s enough dough to go around.