Of the non chain pizza options, Alex’s pizza is likely the most well known. There are a few more options scattered around town, and this week I decided to give one of those options a try. Pryor’s Fresh Pizza, located at 100 North Bishop, may be one of the less well known choices for students craving pizza, but among local it is a landmark.
Pryor’s Fresh Pizza has been doing business in Rolla since the early sixties, and has been in its current location since 1964. These years of serving pizza have imbued the restaurant with an air of well kept tradition. The restaurant has loyal customers of all ages, many of whom grew up eating Pryor’s Pizza.
Unfortunately the age also reflects on the setup of the restaurant, which suffers from an outdated feel. When I visited, I was surprised by the shabby layout. The restaurant is spread across two rooms, each full of mismatched furniture, making the restaurant look like it was cobbled together over the years.
The kitchen itself is separated from part of the dining area by only a countertop. It was a bit nice to see the pizza being made, making the process seem more personal and filling the air with the amazing smell of fresh pizza. The presence of fridges outside the kitchen area, however, made the setup seem cluttered and haphazard. Unfortunately, Pryor’s Fresh Pizza may be moving soon because the building is being sold, but hopefully the new location will allow them to fix up the interior and update the restaurant. As it is, it feels like a pizza place struggling to fit into a building made for retail.
When I arrived with a friend at a little after five, Pryor’s Fresh Pizza was not too full. Only one other table was seated, and I began to wonder how the restaurant could maintain itself. I was quickly given the answer as the restaurant filled up. Before long all of the tables were full, and the one waitress was struggling to keep up with the flow of customers. Luckily we managed to get an order in before most of the crowd, and so our pizza arrived in short time.
We decided to split a large pizza with half pepperoni and half ham and pineapple. For the crust we opted to upgrade to the thicker crust, which was still pretty thin. The pizza arrived at our table hot and fresh from the oven and looked delicate and delicious. The crust was slightly thicker than St. Louis style pizza, but wasn’t soft like New York style pizza. The pizza was cut into squares and well covered with toppings.
The first bite of pizza was delicious. The cheese to sauce ratio was perfect and the slice had good coverage of pepperoni. The cheese was melted and a little elastic, threatening to pull itself off of the slice with every bite. The Hawaiian side of the pizza was even better, because of the density of the ham and the blend of sweet and savory provided by the pineapple and cheese.
My biggest complaint about the pizza has to be that the crust was slightly blackened around the edges and in places on the bottom, which sometimes gave the pizza an unwelcome burnt flavor. Fortunately, the mixture of flavors overwhelmed the burnt taste on the Hawaiian side of the pizza.
In the future I would get more toppings on the pizza, and try to arrive at less busy times to ensure that nothing was rushed about my pizza. As people began to finish their meals, it became more and more clear that the restaurant was understaffed, as refills on water became scarce, and the waitress struggled to keep up with clearing off tables and tending to current customers.
Overall, Pryor’s Fresh Pizza offers some of the best pizza in town, and is worth a visit especially due to its long history in Rolla.