California’s Pizza & Drinks
509 S. C. St., Oxnard

The only living being that loves pizza more than I do is my dog, a pug named Dougal. The little guy is nuts for the stuff, so it took every ounce of my being to prevent him from jumping into the front seat to gobble down a slice or two of piping-hot pizza from California’s Pizza & Drinks in Oxnard.

I couldn’t blame him. The warm, toasty, cheesy scent wafting through the cabin drove me crazy on our way to movie night.

California’s Pizza & Drinks sits in a very nondescript little building in downtown Oxnard, catty-corner from Plaza Park on C Street and Fifth. Parking for a quick takeout order was somewhat sparse, but doable, as we managed to find a spot in front of an adjacent convenience store.

This being my first order with the shop, I was a bit confused whether I had made it to the right location at first glance. In spite of the outdoor seating with umbrellas, the restaurant’s appearance is less like a restaurant and more like the storefront for an income tax assistant. Bright lights make visible the dining area from the street, where decoration is Spartan; a few people sat at tables but had no food.

Any second-guessing was quickly quelled, however, with notice of the shop’s name. Through the doors, passed a kitchen (shaded by blinds for some reason), the familiar sights and sounds of a busy kitchen appeared as if catching a glimpse of the Taj Mahal through a clearing in a forest. Pizzas were being tossed and made at a fast pace, meaning that the place was fulfilling orders for delivery and takeout in line with a go-to pizza destination — there was no denying that California’s Pizza & Drinks is popular with the locals.

On the menu for myself were one large veggie supreme pizza ($19.95), one medium cheese supreme pizza ($16.95) and one large Greek salad ($6.90). I had phoned in my order half an hour earlier, and when I arrived it was just coming out of the oven, an endorsement of the chef’s estimate over the phone.

With pizza in tow, we headed to our final destination to catch the film Your Name, a Japanese anime. This is important to note for two simple reasons: I’m 33 years old and I haven’t had a pizza and anime night since I was 20; and when watching a moving drama such as Your Name, access to comfort food is required; and for me, there’s nothing more comforting than pizza.

With Dougal contently gnawing on a chew toy and the film in progress, we dug in. The veggie supreme, topped with spinach, mushrooms, green and red peppers, red onion, black olives, tomato and diced garlic, was the clear star of the show save for the characters on the screen. This is your classic takeout, several notches above similar offerings from national chains. The pizza of a perfect Friday night. The crust had been cooked to perfect crunchiness without being overly so, and the cheese had charred in all the right spots, leaving the veggies al dente with a lovely garlic bite. The salad, while a welcome palate cleanser between pizzas, was your typical red onion, black olive and feta cheese; nothing special.

The cheese supreme is rightfully named, with a five-cheese blend of mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, cheddar and feta. It, too, had been perfectly baked, and with the addition of some homemade hot sauce provided by our movie-night host, it was cheesy perfection.

Your Name is a fantastic film (egregiously overlooked for an Oscar, but that’s another article for another column), but somehow it seemed even better with a slice of pizza from California’s Pizza & Drinks. Maybe it was the crust; maybe it was the toppings; but we all agreed that perhaps the combination of the two had reconnected us to a simpler time when pizza and anime were all you really needed.

In other words, I’ll be back. There’s still a full menu to explore, including calzones and sandwiches. California’s Pizza & Drinks: Thanks for the memories!