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Award Winning Pizza at Persona in Santa Barbara

We attended as guests of Persona

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For those of you who know Santa Barbara, you surely love it as much as I do. And for those of you who haven’t yet ventured north from Orange County to this little slice of paradise, I can highly recommend it. Last June, my family and I packed up our belongings and sold our OC house to move to SB. I always thought that California has a relaxed vibe but SB takes it down a notch to a very easy going pace. People are friendly and unassuming, palm trees are swaying in the crisp sea breeze and the wine is free flowing at the many wine tasting rooms.

Downtown SB is dominated by State Street, with its shops and cafes. It is here that Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria opened its doors 3 years ago. Glenn Cybulski, CEO of Persona, meets me with a broad smile from behind the pizza counter. Glenn is the winner of 112 culinary awards and he explains how Persona works, “We want everyone to be able to enjoy an authentic pizza. At Persona, you can order one of our specialty pizzas or simply choose any combination of toppings to create your own recipe. Your pizza only takes 4.5 minutes from the time you order till the time it comes out of the wood burning oven.” Pizzas bake at 800 degrees for only 90 seconds, meaning you can enjoy your masterpiece almost instantly.

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While we talk, chef Glenn says he will make me a selection of his favorites. We watch the process from stretching out the fresh dough, adding sauces and toppings, and the quick blast in the oven. The dough is made with imported Italian flour (gluten free available) and there are over 30 toppings of the best quality. We watch our pizza as it comes out bubbling and crispy, with a beautiful charcoal tinge to the crust. It’s definitely fast. Everything is fresh, even the salads are made to order, and the dough is hand stretched, not pressed. We sit down at one of the booths to taste the Chicken Chipotle pizza. Glenn explains, “This is our award winning recipe. The Chicken Chipotle pizza won the Best Pizza in North America Award at the Napels Italy Competition in 2007. It combines a slight heat from spices in the crust, with tender chicken and the coolness of crème fraiche.” It’s delicious with a perfect crust and I can taste enough spice to enjoy it without it being too hot. Other pizzas arrive, the Prosciutto with Mixed Greens and the Carne pizza for meat lovers. It’s hard to choose a favorite, they are all so different and quite simply perfect.

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In the meantime, my daughter tucks into her own special order that involves “only a tiny bit of red sauce, please” and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, pesto and fresh spinach. And that’s the beauty of this pizza concept: everyone at Persona can try their own combination. Kids love it because they can use their imagination and see their pizza being prepared, and it’s fast for those small hungry tummies. My daughter agrees, “It’s delicious, so yummy.”

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Chef Glenn explains how Persona started, “I went surfing in Hawaii many years ago and met some Italians. We hung out and when I visited them in Italy, I just stayed. I ended up spending 10 years in Italy, first just outside Rome and then in Napels to gain more exposure to the real Neapolitan pizza.” And now, Glenn is taking his award winning recipe for the perfect Neapolitan pizza nation-wide. Currently open in SB and Santa Rosa, Persona is expanding with many new locations soon, including the first east coast restaurant in South Carolina.

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Persona Pizzeria
905 State Street
Santa Barbara

Belle Regeer is a stay at home mom to a precious six-year-old. Belle is Dutch and was raised in southern Spain. She has lived in the UK, Holland, Switzerland, NYC, New Jersey, Santa Barbara and is now happy to call SoCal her home. With foreign roots and friends in far away places, Belle has traveled the globe, giving some truth to the old adage that the Dutch are born explorers. While always in search of the local experience, she and her husband want to show their daughter that this world is indeed a small place, one that we should embrace and care for. When back home in SoCal, Belle is passionate about healthy living, tending her vegetable garden and volunteering at school.
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