Cynthia Izzo the " foodie" creative half of the husband and wife team behind Santino's began her education Pizza - wise at age 3. For two months out of every year, her Aunt Lucy Cavazzi who traveled every year to the family home in Naples Italy and brought with her all the traditional Italian recipes. over the years Aunt Lucy travelled from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where part of the family had settled and would come to visit her favorite niece in California where Cynthia's father was partner in one of the first Italian Trattoria in the San Fernardo valley
Aunt Lucy and Cynthia spent hours in the kitchen, cooking and preparing the wide variety of delicious family recipes handed down through the ages. These recipes comprised the regional specialties of Southern Italy, specifically the regions in and around Naples. Lucy taught her how to make those fresh, full-bodied tomato sauces ringing with garlic and herbs and rich with meats of various kinds. Lucy taught her how to make pasta from scratch–egg noodles, tortellini, ravioli, and other favorites of the Italian table. Cynthia was a good learner, listening carefully to her aunt and learning how to cook in the style of the old world, creating tantalizing flavors from simple ingredients.
When she was old enough, Cynthia worked side by side with her cousins in the family restaurant, known as Barone’s, the home of the famous thin crust square pizza.
The Square Origins
The origins of this pizza date back to antiquity when breads were baked in stone ovens then brushed with olive oil and topped with tomatoes or whatever the harvest had to offer. Cynthia loved the concept and also loved working with the public. During her years at Barone’s, she learned the fine art of the Square Pizza , ways of cooking and serving food that opened her eyes to the wonders of the restaurant business. It gave her joy to see people sit down, relax, eat well, leave happy and satisfied..
In 1994, Cynthia and her husband, Daniel, finally opened their own restaurant, a small, food-to-go enterprise on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Woodland Hills. They called their establishment Santino’s and it was on this stage where those old world recipes, embedded in her memory for so long, were finally reborn, only now with Cynthia’s personal signature and creative flair. Combined with Daniel’s genius for packaging, presentation and flavor control, a winning formula for success emerged.
Cynthia and Daniel worked hard and faced many challenges in the those first years, but eventually won the hearts of their customers. The community embraced their food and came to love Cynthia’s creative renderings of those family recipes taught to her by Aunt Lucy so long ago. She and Daniel came up with many new pizza combinations, both round and square, and even invented their own Italian salad dressing, so delicious and tangy people sop with bread to the last drop.
Several years later, Santino’s moved to a more accessible location on Woodman Avenue in Sherman Oaks. It was here where Santino’s spread its wings and earned its reputation as one of the best pizza restaurants in Los Angeles. Cynthia’s version of the Square Pizza quickly earned a large following of devotees who come on a weekly, sometimes daily basis for a slice or two or three, for a plate of pasta, an Italian sandwich, or a leafy green salad drizzled with that intoxicating dressing.
Cynthia and Daniel maintain great integrity serving only the best quality foods fresh from the markets. They never cut corners or rush the cooking process. Flavors are completely developed and linger on the palate like fine wine. They never sit back and rest, but are constantly coming up with new combinations for their pizza, new flavors for their sauces, new ways of presenting dishes that harmonize the old with the new. Cynthia and Daniel have been in business now for fifteen years and have continued to reap positive reviews and comments from the community that they serve.