Here at EatMeCalifornia we’ve decided that one man is not enough to truly judge a pizza. Therefore, Mikey and I will be tag-teaming pizza joints all over the state to give you the best, and worst, pizza that California can dish up. We’ll take on all challengers, thick crust or thin, deep dish or New York. Bring on your cheesy, greasy, saucy, worst. We’ll eat it, rate it, purge it, clean it up and do it all over again.
First up is a little family-owned spot next to Ventura College, called Santino’s. Before we get into our review, we have to talk a little bit about EatMeCalifornia’s Pizza Measuring System (PMS). The scale is your traditional 100 point deal, but since Mike and I are both in on the reviews, we’ve equally divided the points 50/50. For the breakdown on the scale I’ll go ahead and kick it over to Mikey.
Mikey: So we have 5 major pizza rating categories: Dough, Cheese, Sauce, Toppings, and then overall spectacularness. Brian and I will break down each category and give it a score from 1-10. We take our scores, combine them with a little of our special sauce and get a total score. You can then take that total score and find it on our PMS chart. Back to you Brian.
Brian: Ok, so we decided to make the PMS chart a little more fun than your average rating system. Since we’re talking pizza here, we chose to assign Mob movies instead of grades.
- 100-90 – The Godfather (All-time Great)
- 89-80 – Goodfellas (Good Anytime)
- 79-70 – Casino (Gotta Be In The Mood)
- 69-60 – Donnie Brasco (If There’s Nothin’ Else)
- Anything below 60 – Mickey Blue Eyes (Fuggedaboudit)
Obviously we are going to try like hell to avoid any potential Mickey Blue Eyes situations, but mistakes do happen.(Just ask Hugh Grant) The reason we went with Mickey Blue Eyes as our lowest ranking is because people are fiercely loyal to their favorite mob flicks, but we can all agree that Mickey Blue Eyes sucked, hard. Mike?
Mikey: I’ve seen better film on my shower door, that’s for damn sure. Thus we arrive at our first tag team review for Santino’s pizza.
Santino’s Pizza Parlor – on Telegraph Road in Ventura
Mikey: We hit Santino’s in the afternoon after the lunch rush. You can definitely tell it is a family owned joint as they have the local little leagues, and soccer teams proudly displayed on the wall. I gotta say, walking in nobody greets you, or says anything to you, so you’re not really sure if you’re supposed to find your own seat or go make your own pizza. We kinda drifted into the bar/dining area and grabbed a booth not too far from the huge-ass big screen TV displaying a 3 ft wide Jim Rome giving us his latest take on what he hates about Shaq. Some minutes went by before we finally had someone come over to us. I don’t want to come right out and say this girl was off, but there was something very short yellow bus about her. Something wasn’t right and I was determined to figure it out before we left.
I like to get a feel for the heart of an Italian restaurant so I ordered a couple meatballs with a side of their marinara sauce. Brian ordered the jalapeno popper appetizers and we both tried to figure out what munchers could be, because all it the menu said was southwestern spicy bites as a description. The meatballs were good, great quality, and the sauce was top notch. Good spice, the basil stands out, but is not over-powering.
I was definitely looking forward to our large, pepperoni, italian sausage, mushroom, pineapple, pizza. Brian?
Brian: Yeah, that just about sums up our entrance. All I really have to add was that it was really freaking dark in the room we sat in. It was like a cave with wood paneling. It was also lit like a Vegas lounge which I don’t mind so much, but some people might find annoying.
The poppers were pretty good and really only fell short in the heat department. There was plenty of jalapeno but it was overwhelmed by a massive amount of cheese.
So, if you’re in the mood for spicy, look somewhere else. I’ll let Mike start the important work of dissecting the pizza.
Mikey: The first thing I always check out when I get a pizza is the toppings, they load you up pretty good, lots of pepperoni and mushrooms, plenty of italian sausage and lots of pineapple. The next thing I do is check if they slice it well. No half ass cuts here, slices are neat and you don’t lose any pizza in transition from pan to plate. Here is a basic breakdown of all the elements that make a great pizza:
Dough – They have great dough, you can tell its made fresh and it lifts just enough to give you a great crust, it’s even and not over-cooked.
Cheese – I love great cheese, its always real important pizza joints use a good quality shredded mozzarella that’s not too dry, and cooks evenly. Santino’s does use a high quality cheese. It melts in your mouth, and flows great with the sauce. It compliments the crust at the end as well. The cheese, for me, was the best part.
Sauce – Santino’s sauce is excellent, what surprises me is the lack of sauce on the pizza itself. It’s a really flavorful sauce. You get the rosemary and basil and even a touch of garlic in every bit. The problem is they barely give you any. There were portions of the pizza that only had a tease of sauce. It was like I was in a strip bar on free dance night and the only one there was the DJ. I had my dollar bills and I was ready to get funky, but no damn chicks. That was a huge problem for me because their sauce is so good.
Toppings – Their toppings are ok, the pepperoni is flavorful, not too greasy, and they give you plenty of it. The pineapple was sweet and worked well with the great cheese. My soul was deeply wounded by the mushrooms. They were shredded up, and tasted almost dirty or dusty. I love mushrooms so I was hurt instantly by that. The italian sausage was just ok to me. I felt like they resembled rabbit pellets and were just bland. I like a flavorful, bold italian sausage, these were weak and flabby and at times hard and crusty.
Overall – The pizza was above average overall and you’ll see by it’s PMS rating that its right in the middle. I needed more sauce, for sure. Change up the mushrooms, and give some performance enhancers to the italian sausage and I’m on board. I was just hoping Brian could work out what the hell a muncher was, what in the wide world of sports was up with the mushrooms, and why I felt just a little more retarded every time our server came by.
Brian: Mikey, I agree with your pizza assessment for the most part. I definitely second the fact that there wasn’t enough sauce on the pizza. For me, the crust beat out the cheese as the most important aspect. It had that just slightly undercooked texture that I love about all things baked.
I was also not as offended by the sausage and found it to be on the plus side of average. The mushrooms were way too dry though, and the fact that there wasn’t any sauce to help them really sealed their fate. I’m not really a pineapple guy but I guess it was alright. The most important thing about the toppings at this place is that they weren’t cheap about putting them on the pie.
I know we’re rating the pizza here, but I have to agree with you that the service was a little off. Not enough that I wouldn’t eat here anymore, but enough to make me favor takeout. I don’t need to be waited on hand and foot, but I do like it when someone at least acknowledges that I’m there.
P.S. – Munchers are potatoes… so they say.
So here are my ratings:
- Dough – 10
- Sauce – 8
- Cheese – 7
- Toppings – 6
- Overall – 7
- Dough – 7
- Sauce – 8
- Cheese – 8
- Toppings – 6
- Overall – 7
Final Score: 74 – Casino (Gotta Be In The Mood)
And that does it for our first pizza review. We know this was a long one, so props to those of you who made it through. Give yourself a cookie.