Downtown Columbia is a relatively diverse place. Just one walk down Main Street takes you by the Statehouse, through the Columbia Museum of Art, to the Nickelodeon Theatre and more. In a city bustling with differing cultures and forms of entertainment, there is an underlying assumption that the food will offer a wide range of styles and atmospheres.
On Oct. 30, one more restaurant was put on that spectrum, adding authentic Italian pizza to Columbia’s already impressive portfolio.
Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria brings to Columbia the unique combination of fast service and high quality food.
Individual opinions and tastes may differ, but CEO and founder Glenn Cybulski’s reputation precedes him. A graduate of the world’s oldest pizza school, Cybulski has since gone on to win 112 culinary awards, appear on the Food Network’s show “Glutton for Punishment” in Naples, Italy and give back to the community via the non-profit he co-founded, “Chefs Feeding Kids.” Cybulski even boasts the title of “World Pizza Champion” from the Citta Di Napoli world pizza competition in Naples, Italy.
All of the restaurant’s specialty pies were inspired by culinary mastermind Cybulski himself, and his recipe for the Chipotle Chicken pizza is award-winning. Pricing for the pizzas starts at $7.95, and increases with certain toppings you may choose to add. Persona offers side salads and their original “Burrata Bar” — a mixture of vegetables, cheese curds and cream stuffed inside of a ball of fresh mozzarella. Desserts, beer and wine are also available for a more sophisticated dinner.
Until now, Persona’s only two locations were in California — Santa Barbara and Santa Rosa. When asked about the decision to open a restaurant all the way in South Carolina, employee Jennifer Brandon said that the prospective Columbia owners knew they wanted to bring quality pizza to the city, so they did some hands-on research of their own on a trip to California.
Persona Pizzeria is located at 1202 Main St.
“They tried every pizza shop they could find, and [Persona] was the best pizza they could find,” Brandon said, “so they decided they wanted to bring this one out to South Carolina”.
Although this pizza may not be the $5 dollar junk food you buy when you are low on cash and yearning to stuff your face, this will be the place you’ll want to go to when your mouth waters for food beyond its regular constraints. Their reasonably priced, 12-inch pies are well worth the extra dollars and the perfect size for a date night, a snack between a few friends or a ravenous appetite of one.
Their method of ordering down the line — similar to that of Subway or Moe’s — ensures that your custom order pizza will be crafted speedily and efficiently. To add to the appeal, you need not wait long for your food — their unique wood-fired ovens bake pizzas in just 90 seconds.
Columbia resident Cyndi Gawronski is already a loyal customer, visiting three times in the first week of the store's opening.
“It’s a good atmosphere — there’s everything,” Gawronski said. “Depending on what your mood is, you can find what you want."
The atmosphere is undeniably appealing. The interior brick walls, paintings of the streets of Italy and large wood fired oven all make Persona an aesthetically pleasing place with a comforting atmosphere. The employees try their best to add to the experience as well.
“We definitely have one of the fastest services, and we have the most friendly staff,” employee Brandon said. “We don’t have any negative energy in here … We all just really enjoy the concept of it here. It’s nice to be a part of something that opens like this."