Can you list how many places there are in Eugene to eat pizza? Google can. It lists 20 local pizzerias, excluding campus. With all these options, deciding where to chowdown on a pie can be a challenge. Narrowing down the more popular places, I went on an all-out pizza binge to determine which campus-centric pizza locations have the best pizza.
The first pizzeria on my crawl is La Perla. Located on 13th Avenue and Pearl Street, this pizza hub is a slice of Italy. Of the pizzerias I went to, this one is something of a black sheep. A delicious black sheep. Immediately as you walk in, you can see the kitchen along the back wall, complete with a wood-fire pizza oven. Glass panels allow you to see into the kitchen as well as watch the chefs toss your pizza before your eyes.
I order the Antica: a pie topped with their cheese, salami, mushroom, and roasted red peppers. This pizza is a work of art. All the toppings are laid out in a perfect arrangement that means every topping is in every bite. In a word: fresh. The mozzarella is fresh, the tomato sauce is merely crushed tomatoes that have been lightly seasoned. The mushrooms provide a heartiness to the pizza. Cooked salami tends to up the saltiness of the cured meat, but with the sugars from the peppers and tomato sauce, the flavor of the salami does not overpower the combined taste. The crust, tossed thin, has a crunch to it on the outside, but the interior is soft and fluffy. Holding the pizza turns your hand black because of the ash from sitting in the oven, and the char on the bottom of the crust just makes this pie taste that much better.
Surprisingly, even with rich ingredients like salami and mushrooms, this pizza is light and doesn’t sit in your stomach like a rock.
I’m pretty certain that if I were to fly to Italy and order the same pizza in Naples, I would suffer from déjà vu. My only hang up with this pie is the crust. Since it is rolled thin, the weight of the toppings make it so a fork and knife are necessary. This pie is also a bit on the costly side. La Perla is delicious, but if your budget doesn’t include dropping close to $15 on one pie, perhaps leave this pizzeria for when the folks come to town or you want to treat your significant other to a nice dinner.
Nestled in the heart of Kesey square, Sizzle Pie is a pizzeria with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude. They sell pies by the slice, or by the pie, but be warned, these slices are massive. One slice alone is enough to fill you up. I order a slice of the pepperoni pizza. It may not be as fancy as the pie I enjoyed at La Perla, but the basics are what separate the great pizza joints from the mediocre joints that you go to only if you’re desperate.
When I receive my piping hot slice of pie, I immediately notice the small pools of grease settling on top of the pepperoni and cascading onto the cheese. Some people are put off by this sight, but my eyes determine that it is just enough grease to add flavor to this pie. My first bite further confirms that Sizzle Pie is a hangover paradise. The crust is thin, but sturdy, almost like a cracker. The cheese has a pull to it that makes eating it much more fun. I tend to enjoy pepperoni that has a bit of a spice to it, but this pepperoni was so flavorful, I didn’t mind. With each bite, I pick up a zesty herby flavor that I determine to be the sauce. While La Perla has a pizza that is light, this pizza sticks to your ribs, but not in a way that makes it heavy.
Though I don’t have a problem with the grease, I notice this pizza makes me thirsty. I guzzle down water like I’ve just swallowed a handful of salt. Conflicted with my thirst and wanting more, I decide that pizza this good is worth drinking a gallon of water over. This pizza tastes like true Americana done right. It’s one of those pizzas that makes you want another slice if only there was room in your stomach.
Track Town Pizza has been across the street from Matthew Knight Arena since before the stadium was built. It’s a small hub filled with memorabilia of the excellence Oregon exhibits in track and field. Their menu itself has pizza titles dedicated to track events like the hammer throw and the decathlon.
I munch on the Hawaiian Plus. Ever been conflicted between Hawaiian and Pepperoni? The Hawaiian Plus solves that problem by mashing the two together. And what a delicious marriage it is. Salty and sweet are probably one of my favorite flavor combinations and this pie has it. The sweetness from the pineapple cuts through the salty spiciness from the pepperoni that allows you to taste all the toppings. Canadian bacon for me has always been kind of a blah topping, so I’m not much impressed by it. While the other pizzerias have tomato sauce that is light and complements the other ingredients, the sauce on Track Town’s is thick and holds a good kick. Fortunately, they layer the sauce on thinly as to not overpower the taste. The crust doesn’t wow me with this pizza. It is delicious, but forgettable.
Eating at Track Town always reminds me of my childhood when my mom would take my siblings and me out for pizza on the last day of school. The atmosphere of this pizzeria is all about spending time with friends and enjoying a great pie.
Pegasus Pizza has three locations across Eugene. I go to their campus location. This location is always buzzing with students and families alike. I’ve had pepperoni pizza here many a-time before, so for the final place on my crawl, I want to try something new. I go with the Hawaii Five-O pizza. Teriyaki Chicken, bacon, pineapple, and cilantro. A delicious combination of toppings. What can possibly go wrong with this choice?
As it turns out, quite a bit.
Above all, this pizza has too much teriyaki sauce. Each bite I take is a mouthful of teriyaki that is super delicious for the first five bites, and then becomes overpowering. The cilantro and pineapple help cut up that teriyaki flavor, but sometimes I get a mouthful of cilantro and feel like I am eating soap (a common problem when you get too generous with the herbs). The pizza is hearty and very filling. After eating this pizza, I feel like I won’t be hungry for at least two days.
One thing that surprises me with this pizza is how the fresh tomato sauce complements the teriyaki sauce. The two flavors blend well when it seems they would be in constant battle with each other. Pegasus also has my favorite crust of the four pizzerias. It is yeasty and fluffy, with a slight crunch from the oven.
I’m not saying Pegasus is bad. As I said before, I’ve had their pizza plenty of times before. The Hawaii Five-O pizza was a risk and with strong flavors like teriyaki and cilantro, it just didn’t work for me. I would still go back again for a simpler pie.