persona1Award-winning pizzaiolo and executive chef Glenn Cybulski along with chef, founder and president Joseph Baumel have opened Persona Neapolitan Pizzeria at 905 State Street in Santa Barbara, formerly The Taj Café. Baumel tells me that their Neapolitan style (thin crust) pizza takes only about a minute to bake using ovens that are 300 degrees hotter than most eateries use. “We are in the fast-casual segment of the industry,” Baumel says. “It is a create-your-own authentic Neapolitan pizzeria.”

Everybody gets a 12-inch pizza. The eatery offers 4 proprietary specialty pizzas along with a “pizza bar” where each customer can choose from a variety of fresh ingredients. They roll-out dough fresh in front of the guest so every pizza is essentially made to order. Then the guest has the opportunity to select one of their home-made sauces, cheeses, and proteins toppings (3 of which are made in house). The restaurant offers gelato made by an Austrian-born, Milano-trained gelato chef in Los Angeles and a fresh salad station where all the dressings are made from scratch.

“All of our ingredients are fresh,” Cybulski tells me. “The meatball and sauce recipes have won double gold medals. The Chipotle Chicken specialty pizza, in 2007, won the ‘Best Pizza in North America’ at the world pizza championship.” While visiting the new restaurant chef Cybulski made me a 12-inch Margherita Pizza which costs just $6.95. I made a short video of the entire pizza-making process that can be viewed above.

Persona Neapolitan Pizzeria opens at 11 a.m. daily. The eatery closes at 10 – 11 p.m. Sunday –Wednesday and past midnight Thursday – Saturday. For more information call 899-4999 or visit


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  1. SL says:

    $6.95 for a Margerita, I’d say that’s definitely worth a try.

  2. Christine! says:

    Was it Sal’s on State street- this looks like a place from my youth!

    I’ll give it a whirl- after I hear what the owners do with their extra cash, who they vote for AND if their employee’s are trained to weed out nit-pickers……HAHA.

  3. Greg says:

    This place has me salivating all over the floor. Seems like
    the location will crush, then an IV store will have lines around
    the block.

  4. Charlotte says:

    Those meatballs look so good! Going today.

  5. SL says:

    Just watched the video and I must say that pie looks great. Cybulski sounds like he knows his craft and is putting out a great product with high quality ingredients at a fair price.

    I’ve tried this concept elsewhere and found the Achilles heal to be the staff. To make a proper Neaoplitan pie you need to have some skills and significant practice. One does not simply become a true pizzaiolo overnight. If there staff member topping and firing the pie does not do it correctly the final result is of far less quality than what you see in the video and in the pictures of the pies from this place I have seen. Hopefully Cybulski stays intimately involved and doesn’t let some underpaid hack take over the ovens as so far this looks great!

    Noteworthy too is this is not authentic Neapolitan, in the video you can clearly see the oven is not wood fired. It looks to be a gas fired oven in the traditional shape and fire placement of a WFO. One can whine about authenticity all day long, but at this price point how can you complain? The pies looked to be cooked properly at high heat with quality products, hopefully the public will understand that a little char on the dough is key and they won’t be forced into turning the oven temps down or pulling them out sooner as there’s nothing worse than an undercooked Neaoplitan style pie. I’m very much looking forward to checking this place out.

    • Nick Ulrich says:

      SL – excellent point about the wood firing, this was before
      Persona was open that day and as Glenn stated, the pizza oven was
      only at 600 degrees (it usually gets to 800-900). I’m sure that Mr.
      Cybulski will be using locally sourced almond wood in addition to
      gas in the very near future.

    • N says:

      We tried this place yesterday. The ingredients were fresh, and the employees were nice, but the pizzas weren’t baked the way Glenn demonstrated in the video. They put the pizzas in the oven, left them there, and never spun them at all. Right before taking them out, they domed them for maybe a millisecond or two but they didn’t seem to check if doming accomplished what it was supposed do. Thus, not sure if our pizzas turned out they way they were meant to. Our impression was that the pizza was okay, had a good crunch, but tasted slightly burnt.

  6. susie greenwald says:

    This pizza is amazing! I have never tasted anything even close to this in the good old USA. (yes, in Italy)
    The ingredients are all fresh, Joe is a master chef and the staff were all very welcoming and helpful. I predict long lines in the months ahead.

  7. Chaz says:

    General Question to Pizza Buffs – More often than I like (from a variety of purveyors) I get a pizza with the bottom “burned” or way too tough and dark.

    Have others found this? Is it a problem of poorly trained staff not knowing the proper cooking procedure?

  8. Bunny Ross says:

    My mouth was watering as I watched the video. I can’t wait to get in line. Now I don’t have to go back to Italy for my favorite dish. Congratulations , Bunny and Herb

  9. Roy says:

    If I remember correctly, wasn’t this (make your own pizza) one of Kramer’s money-making ideas
    on a “Seinfeld” episode? And also, IIRC, Jerry and George disparaged Kramer:

    “You can’t have people just sticking their hands into those hot ovens!”

    Elaine, however, thought it was a great idea.

    Nothing came of it on Seinfeld but it’s great to see it realized here.

    Next time I am in CA I will certainly give it a try and (postdated) Kudos to Kramer! \(^@^)

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