By Audrey Ronningen
Photo by Eduardo Villatoro
Up until recently, Pizza My Heart had been something of legend to me. I’d heard friends talk about it occasionally, practically raving about the flaky, airy crusts and incredible flavors. Everything they said led me to believe that it would be my kind of food.
However, before coming to college, the Capitola-based pizza chain was just about an hour too far away for me to travel just for a slice or two, no matter how delicious it was praised to be. So, I decided to stick with the much more local—and still fantastic—Cheeseboard, and resigned myself to simply hearing stories about Pizza My Heart.
My ignorant bliss went out the window, though, when the restaurant came to Isla Vista, conveniently located on Trigo next Crushcakes Café. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to find out if this place lived up to the hype.
Walking in, I was greeted with a view of whole pizzas behind the restaurant’s pristine glass counter, clearly designed to grab customers’ gazes from the get-go. The visual set-up of the restaurant by itself is impressive, with a design that manages to seem sleekly modern, casual and surf-themed all at the same time.
The restaurant started off near Santa Cruz, and the influence is evident in the décor: the wall is covered with pictures of the ocean and of surfers taking on humongous waves, indicating a clear nod to the laid-back beach town of its origins. Considering the similarities between the two places, the vibe of Pizza My Heart seems like it will fit in perfectly in Isla Vista.
Aesthetics aside, Pizza My Heart offers a wide span of options to customers, providing the simpler classics, such as pesto or pepperoni, as well as their own original concoctions. With slices like “Sunset Beach”—bacon, bell peppers, pineapple, red onions and Canadian bacon—or “Figgy Piggy,” with sage, feta, black figs and bacon, the people at Pizza My Heart definitely value creativity in their food.
This franchise, while clearly all about the pizza, also caters to customers looking for something slightly healthier. Their salad options include Caesar, Greek, Seasonal and Chicken Walnut, which can either be ordered by themselves or paired with a slice of your choice.
Despite the mind-boggling variety of choices I was presented with, I decided to start with Pizza My Heart at its most basic. Upon being greeted with a friendly “What can I get you?” from an employee, I weighed my options and selected a slice of pesto. After sliding into one of their padded burgundy booths, it was only a short matter of minutes before my food arrived, pleasantly warm from the oven but not scalding.
The slice of pesto pizza in front of me, with its combination of pesto, cheese, and a swirl of tomato sauce, did not look elaborate at all. However, I soon found it to be one of the cases where appearances are deceiving. You can really taste everything that goes into the slice, from the creamy tomato to the walnut and garlic ground into the pesto. The intersection of these two staple pizza sauces was refreshing and delicious and highlighted Pizza My Heart’s ability to add a unique dimension to something so classic. The only problem I encountered was that one slice by itself isn’t completely filling; this is an easily fixed problem, though, with the answer being more pizza.
Although I wouldn’t say the prices are a bargain, they’re about on par with most other pizza places, and for the quality you get it’s more than worth it. With a relaxed, beachy theme, enough options to satisfy even the choosiest customer and, above all, top-notch food, Pizza My Heart is soon to become a favorite among Isla Vistans.