A slice of Tampa’s pizzeria life
October marks Pizza Month as commemorated by restaurants and enthusiasts since 1987, giving today’s college students a chance to celebrate the combination of cheese, sauce and dough.
According to pizzaware.com, Americans eat approximately 350 slices of pizza a second, and pizzerias represent 17 percent of all restaurants.
Indeed, one of the great pleasures in eating pizza is finding the one restaurant in a field of dozens that actually serves a great slice. Yet, that can be a daunting task in a setting as large as the Tampa Bay area.
The Oracle suggests five places to start for local pizza patronage or your own private pizza month celebration.
New York New York Pizza
Although Ybor City brings to mind Cuban and Mediterranean fare, a remarkable amount of pizzerias scatter the East Seventh Avenue strip — most touting themselves as a taste of New York thousands of miles away.
New York New York Pizza on 1512 E. Seventh Ave. definitely plays up the Empire State connection with specialty pies such as the Mayor Giuliani, topped with pepperoncini peppers and ricotta cheese.
Even a $2.50 slice combines warm sauce and cheese far better than the average flimsy pizza. Since it’s located on Ybor City’s main street and stays open until 4 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, the restaurant is perfect for a quick meal after a downtown concert or club venture.
Eddie & Sam’s NY Pizza
Eddie & Sam’s NY Pizza on 203 E. Twiggs St. is slightly closer to metropolitan downtown Tampa, but offers another street slice.
The restaurant remains so committed to tasting like the Big Apple that it imports New York water to flavor the pizza crusts.
Students can grab a wide, foldable slice for $2.50 or two slices and a drink for $5. The pizzeria suits groups sharing the Tampa nightlife, too, and boasts a 20-inch Hawaiian and tomato basil pizza that serves about four people.
Eddie & Sam’s even uses pizza in its other New York specialties, including turnovers and chicken parmigiana in pizza pocket bread.
Tour de Pizza
Whether it’s an athlete famished after a ride or a bike co-op planning a dinner night, the combination of cycling and pizza eating is a surprisingly rich one — and a theme that Tour de Pizza taps into.
The restaurant has gotten most of its media attention from owner Matt McClellan, who lost more than 20 pounds eating nothing but pizza for 30 days and made a 1,300-mile cross-country ride to promote pizzerias.
But the actual fire-baked, thin-crust pizza deserves its own press. Students can grab cheese pizza at $2 by the slice — or “spoke” — or load it up with nutritious toppings like pear slices, artichoke hearts and mandarin oranges.
The only downside for students could be its 212 37th Ave. location in downtown St. Petersburg.
Gourmet Pizza Company
Students looking for gourmet or diet specialty pizzas will find them at their best at Gourmet Pizza Company on 610 S. Armenia Ave.
Among the more eclectic combinations are steak and gorgonzola and escargot and gouda — both on a fluffy crust.
Recently, however, the pizzeria has become better known for its cheese-less vegan pizzas and gluten-free crust accommodations. The vegetarian Margherita pizza offers a thinner crust with mozzarella slices and basil.
By-the-slice lovers should beware — the cheapest option here is a 10-inch cheese pizza for $6.95.
As long as students understand its “fine Italian cuisine” claim really translates to “accessible, greasy facsimiles of Italian cuisine,” Pizza Plus ranks pretty high for college convenience.
Like most cheap pizza places, the cheese is a little too thick, but entirely palatable with red pepper or a few veggie toppings. A medium cheese pizza costs $6.99, while specialties like Greek to Halal — steak, beef and onions — range from $9.99 to $11.99.
What makes Pizza Plus above the crust for an easy late night fix are the delivery options and fairly extensive menu.
The restaurant, located on 30th Street, delivers for free — except in Brandon and downtown locations — and offers a 10 percent USF student discount, as well as other meals like gyro sandwiches and pasta dishes.
Tampa Pizza Places:
Cappy’s Pizzeria: 4910 N. Florida Ave., 813-238-1516
Eddie and Sam’s NY Pizza: 203 E. Twiggs St., 813-229-8500
Gourmet Pizza Company: 610 S. Armenia Ave., 813-258-1999
Mellow Mushroom: 11955 Sheldon Rd., 813-926-3600
New York New York Pizza: 1512 E. 7th Ave., 813-248-1845
Pizza Plus: 109 N. 30 St., 813-866-0060
Tour de Pizza: 212 37th Ave., 727-898-5555