Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Out Of Town: Alex's Pizza Palace, Rolla MO

Restaurant: Alex's Pizza Palace
Address: 122 W 8th St, Rolla, MO
Genres: pizza, greek (No, that's not a typo)
Check Constraints: None we could find.
Chain: No.

  • Toasted Ravioli ($5.99)
  • Small Gyro Pizza ($9.99)
    • Gyro Meat
    • Onions
    • Tomato
    • Green Peppers ($1.49)
    • Mushrooms ($1.49)
    • Artichoke Hearts ($1.49)
Combining the two food styles of both the Greek and the Roman people would seem like a horrible idea, at first. How would you reconcile the centuries of conflict? Of drama? The natural pride of the citizenry? Well, Alex's has taken these considerations under careful thought. And then chucked them out the window, ushering in a new age of yummy Mediterranean brotherhood which threatens to almost make me like the city it lives in. Seriously, who can't get behind the concept of souvlaki and pizza in the same delicious place? Crazy people, that's who.

Rolla is ostensibly a college town, and Alex's clearly caters to this aspect. They do both takeout and sit down, and the restaurant itself isn't much to look at, nor is it very bright, large, or well-laid-out. But man, if you're going for ambiance, hit a Pizza Hut, and then consider what you're doing with your life that you are willing to forgo excellent pizza in favor of a comfy booth and an overhead fluorescent bulb.

And the pizza is excellent. The dough is clearly made there, smelling perfectly of yeast and having both a bit of crunch and a bit of softness to it. They don't offer deep dish or "pan" pizza, but the hell with that, you don't need it here. The sauce is tasty but a background flavor, which is just as it should be. Their selection of custom pizzas makes good use of the unique toppings on their list - gyro meat and pepperoncini? Outstanding. Mecha and I split a small, and we (okay, I) loaded it up with enough toppings it was hard to discern individual flavors anymore. Which is fine, because it was still delicious.

The fried ravioli was not quite as good. Fairly standard ravioli is served with their meat sauce, which is much better than average and might be something I'd actually put on pasta and eat straight up (they do serve that, actually). While average, it certainly wasn't bad. There were other appetizers as well, but I'll leave it up to ND and Mecha to outline them.

In short, come here, enjoy the food, and don't pretend you're here for anything else.

  • Cheese Balls ($6.69)
  • Calzone (Gyro meat, Extra Cheese) (6.99)
  • Soft Drink ($1.79)
I couldn't give a damn about ambiance, but out waitress was a veteran, and funny as hell. Also, damn good at thinking on her feet, and nailed Cham good on the delivery thing.

A summary:
Cham: Wait, lemme see a menu again, I need the prices.
Waitress: Here, I'll get you a takeout menu.
Cham: Thanks.
Waitress: oh, and by the way, we deliver.
Cham: I bet you don't deliver to Omaha.
Waitress: Well... we ship!

I don't know if they DO actually ship, but it was quick thinking, and I can get behind that. Especially since she was clearly very accustomed to dealing with college students who are 95% brain dead after long days of thinking.

The Calzone was good stuff, with their very good pizza sauce blending into the taste of cheese, meat, cheese, cheese, meat, and that's it. Their dough is a work of art, too. There's just one problem. Their calzone is a small pizza folded over on itself, omelette style, like most calzones are. I am a large man, but I'm sort of a buffet lightweight anymore, and I am NOT capable of eating a small pizza by myself, not even when I haven't eaten since breakfast, and especially not after a round of appetizers passed around the table.

Cham's fried ravioli is exactly the same as the actual ravioli dish that they serve. The ravioli main dish costs 50 cents more, and you get texas garlic toast for that fifty cents. As far as I could tell, it's roughly the same fried ravioli you could get at Wal-Mart in the freezer section, so I wouldn't bother with it. Instead, get the cheese balls or Mecha's garlic feta pita stuff.

The cheese balls come with a small cup of ranch dip, and rather than the 7 pieces or so of ravioli that you get, it's a small bowl FULL of deep fried cheddar cheese curds. Allow me to be absolutely clear on tihs point, this bowl is heaping over, and even though it's a small bowl, if you do not enjoy the hell out of an extremely cheesy cheddar taste, do not order this. I am a huge fan of cheese in general, and cheddar curds as well, so I bogarted almost the whole bowl. I'd consider ordering it again even if it came with a live bobcat.

If you're alone and don't have a massive stomach capacity, stay away from the calzone or be prepared to take the leftovers home. They do have boxes, and it will probably taste pretty good the next day, unlike that ungodly Gino's East place in Chicago. Screw Chicago, Alex's has the good pizza.

  • Pita Chips w/Tzatziki Dip ($2.99)
  • Pizza w/Cham
Cham and I split that pizza, so.

The pita chips were a baked pita with feta on it. And combined with the tzatziki (gyro sauce) they were amazingly tasty. For 3 bucks, you just can't ask for more. I mean, they really were good. I had to share so I didn't get lots of them, but they were just plain good. I'm not even the biggest fan of feta. I didn't rave over the cheese balls like ND and Cham were, but they were solid, and there was a good amount of them. Nothing to be sad about. The Ravioli was definitely surprisingly standard, and coulda probably been gotten most anywhere.

The pizza was a very busy pizza and I'm not sure I'd rate it over Roman Coin (another place in Omaha), but it was definitely in the same class of good, and as Cham detailed above, there were certainly an interesting mix of ingredient options. The Calzones, though, are far more impressive (and delicious) beasts in my opinion. But you can't load them down quite as well with a lot of ingredients, so you take your chances there.

I don't think anyone really went straight greek, just more of the greek/italian fusion. That might be worth checking out another time. Also, I left my water bottle there by accident and they didn't throw it out or lose it when I went back to get it the next day, so hey, good people. We didn't really get to try dessert either, as ND pointed out, we got plenty of food beforehand. Well, we'll be back eventually.

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