By DAVE MASON
NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
A big amount of cheese stretched as Caleb Laub picked up a slice of an incredibly thick pizza.
“We’re the only ones in town that have the deep dish pizza, the Chicago style,” said the general manager of Patxi’s Pizza, 515 State St.
“We get a lot of people from Chicago who are visiting or have moved out here or have maybe had another deep dish pizza and really liked it,” Mr. Laub told the News-Press at the restaurant this week before the lunch crowd came.
A variety of flavors also stands out at Patxi’s Pizza, which offers nearly a couple dozen deep dish, pan and thin pizzas. And if that’s not enough, you can build your own, with a choice of a dozen or so meats, four cheeses and many veggies.
Customers also can come to the restaurant and choose to buy a half-baked pizza that they can finish baking at home for a warm treat. In addition, Patxi’s Pizza delivers, anywhere from Olive Mill Road in Montecito to State Route 154 at State Street, and the catering service goes even farther, Mr. Laub said.
And the restaurant offers sandwiches, salads, soups, piadinas (Italian flatbread sandwiches) and starters varying from homemade meatballs to the Spicy Southwest Mac & Cheese.
Mr. Laub said the most popular menu item is Wings Your Way: oven-baked, Buffalo chicken wings. The sweet and spicy treat has a house dry rub and is served with vegetables and ranch or blue cheese.
To quench your thirst, Patxi’s offers wines and beers from local breweries.
The restaurant’s prices vary from $15 for the 10-inch Margherita thin pizza to $36 for the popular 14-inch BBQ Chicken deep dish or pan pizza. But Mr. Laub noted the thick pizza can feed an entire family.
“People look at the price, they go, ‘Whoa!,’ but this is feeding four to five people” Mr. Laub said. “So you’ bring a family of four, and you get a $36 pizza. You’re eating for $9 an entree per person.”
Patxi’s is a chain that Bill Freeman and Francisco “Patxi” Aripoz started in 2004 in the San Francisco Bay area. Today its restaurants extend from San Diego to Seattle.
“They’re working on opening one in Porter Ranch,” Mr. Laub said.
He has worked at the State Street location since it opened in 2014. He began as a line cook and rose through the ranks to general manager.
Mr. Laub said the most popular pizzas at the State Street restaurant include the BBQ Chicken deep dish or pan pizza, which features barbecued chicken breast, smoked bacon, fresh jalapeños, red onion and cilantro.
Another popular deep dish pizza is the Old Chicago Special, which consists of pepperoni, all-natural garlic-fennel sausage, green peppers, red onion, mushrooms, herbed ricotta, kalamata olives and fresh basil.
“I think it has a little bit of everything,” Mr. Laub said.
Other deep dish or pan pizzas vary from the Greek, which includes marinated artichoke hearts, aged feta, green bell peppers and kalamata olives, to the Spinach Pesto.
For the News-Press photo shoot, Mr. Laub brought out an off-menu item, the Rodeo deep dish pizza. One of Patxi’s older pizzas, it features pepperoni, meatballs , jalapeños, oregano and parmesan.
Mr. Laub said he loves the Funghi (Mushroom Pizza), a thin, creamy pizza that features seasonal herb-roasted mushrooms, fontina cheese, herbed ricotta and parmesan. “It’s almost like a white pie. We don’t call it that because it doesn’t have alfredo sauce.”
Other thin pizzas vary from the Bianco Verde, which has pesto, herbed ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan, to the Classic Veggie, which has mozzarella, homemade tomato sauce, mushrooms, black olives, white onions, green peppers and parmesan. You can turn it into a vegan pizza by requesting Daiya vegan cheese.
Mr. Laub described another thin pizza. “The Classic Supreme is our a- little-bit-of-everything pizza.”
It features mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, bacon bits, homemade tomato sauce, mushrooms, black olives, white onions, green peppers and parmesan.
One pizza comes with a special story: the Matt Cain.
It’s a classic pepperoni and sausage pizza named after a San Francisco Giants pitcher who was a regular customer at the Patxi’s locations in the Bay Area.
“He said, ‘Man, you should name a pizza after me!’ ” Mr. Laub said.
Patxi’s decided it should be Mr. Cain’s favorite pizza, the classic meat one. The name change took effect immediately in the Bay Area and later in Los Angeles, after Mr. Cain retired and there was no risk of upsetting Dodgers fans, Mr. Laub said.
Mr. Laub said the menu’s newest items are two dessert pizzas: the Roasted Caramel Apple Pizza and the S’mores Pizza, with toasted marshmallows, milk chocolate and a graham cracker crunch.
“When people are deciding what to get, I ask, ‘Do you like chocolate? Go with the S’mores pizza.”
He said a new dessert item will be added. It’s not a pizza, but you’ll find it sweet just the same.
“Cheesecake is coming.”