Pizza with "real Italian flavor" has arrived on State Street at the site of the former Palazzio Italian restaurant.
Owner Guido Oppizzi has opened Oppi'z (OH-peas) Bistro and Natural Pizza at 1026 State St.
Oppizzi, who grew up in Pavia, Italy, about 20 miles south of Milan, opened the restaurant in mid-July. He says he wants to bring Santa Barbara the kind of restaurant it doesn't have.
"Most of the Italian restaurants in America are Americanized and there is no true Italian flavor," said Oppizzi, who came to Santa Barbara about three years ago.
He called it upscale pizza with top quality ingredients, most of which come from Italy.
The dough is prepared a day in advance, and some of the pizza is cooked with "activated charcoal," where the dough is black. Pizza makes up about 60 percent of the menu.
There is no pasta on the menu, and certainly none of the delicious garlic rolls that Palazzio was known for in its day, but there are plenty of salads on offer, and a selection of 40 Italian wines.
Oppizzi believes he is in a good spot to attract customers. He's close enough to the tourist-based population that frequently visits lower State Street up to about the 700 block, but also high enough and close to the theaters and other spots frequented by tourists.
"The lower portion of State Street is for tourists and upper State Street is much more for local residents," Oppizzi said. "We are in between. There is good traffic in both directions."
Oppizzi encourages people to check out the food and "not be scared of something new."
"I am very happy," he said. "It's very comfortable."
The restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.