It’s easy to forget the delight, amid the rest of the memorable meal, of bread service at Barbareño. But when that sourdough and fresh butter arrive, it’s a transformative moment, the simplest of food made transcendent. (And that’s part, I’d say, of a strong Santa Barbara tradition: think back to Downey’s Irish soda bread and Sly’s rye raisin rolls.)
So it’s no surprise that the pizza dough from the same punchy starter kicks off the crust to-die-for at Barb’s Pies, which is Barbareño’s sister restaurant “hiding” in the kitchen at the recently opened bar/restaurant Venus in Furs on East Cota Street. What a crust it is, formed into leftover-providing 18-inch ovals, thin in the center but puffed and charred on the edges. You’d be foolish to toss these pizza bones, for as chewy and alive as they are, you also get to devour them slathered in gourmet dipping sauces that range from an herb-bursting chimichurri to a kicky aji Amarillo and even a ranch rescued from the malign neglect of too many bad salad bars.
“Barb’s Pies is all about pushing the envelope of what pizza can be,” said Barb’s co-owner and GM Dashiell Pinger, explaining that the oval doughs undergo two-day fermentation before being adorned by the mix of traditional and non-traditional toppings developed by head chef Julian Martinez, who also came up with the dipping sauces. ”At the end of the day, Barb’s Pies is all about bringing the flavors of the Central Coast with the unique features of a natural sourdough process out in a pizza that we believe can rewrite the script on what big, bold pizzas can be.”
Of the seven or so pizza styles one can get, it’s hard to pass on the Peregrine Supreme. The pie assembles a dream team of golden state mushrooms, onion panna, truffle puree, mozzarella, and goat gouda into a crazy umami bomb that will ruin you for any other mushroom pizza ever. Like a great wine, this pizza has legs. Order online daily, 4-9 p.m., at barbspiessb.com and follow on Instagram at @barbspies_sb.