A Slice of Heaven
It’s one meal meant to be shared with friends – provided everyone feels the same way about anchovies.
By Lezlie Patterson
Pizza is considered by many to be the perfect food. It can also cause intense debate. Folks will adamantly argue why their favorite pizza is the best; why New York Style is better than Chicago and if a pie is truly New York Style. Some insist only pepperoni and sausage belong on a pizza. Others say expand your palate and try things like blueberries, salmon or egg on a pie. Columbia has many pizza options, from classic, to gourmet to unique. Check ‘em out.
Blaze Pizza is a picky eater’s paradise.
Whether you prefer boring pizzas, or like to mix together the most unusual or downright weird combinations imaginable, Blaze Pizza can accommodate your pizza whims.
This is pizza joint where you walk through line, select your toppings and watch your pie get “fast fired” cooked. There are about 25 toppings, seven cheeses and 10 sauces to choose from. The open and airy restaurant off Bower Parkway is tucked away amongst the Harbison area shopping district. Another location is set to open across town near Village at Sandhill. Blaze has gluten free crust available, and a “high rise” version of their original thin crust. 803.888.7527 / blazepizza.com
A favorite neighborhood spot for residents in the Shandon/Rosewood area (one person even admitted moving to the area to be near the restaurant), Dano’s is beginning to draw folks from other parts of the Midlands as well. The New York/New Jersey (let’s just call it Yankee) style pizza is sold by the slice or by the pie, in traditional or Sicilian style. The cozy, casual restaurant has seating options: A dining room, sports bar area with multiple TVs, or an outdoor covered patio. During baseball season, Dano’s is the place to be for baseball fans, with different games shown on the TVs. Dano’s Deluxe Pizza has pepperoni, sweet Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and mozzarella and Romano cheeses. Other pizzas include BBQ Chicken and Buffalo Chicken. 803.254.3266 / Danosdelivers.com
Good Life Café
Situated on Main Street near the heart of downtown Columbia, this unique café offers a very unique style of food – including pizza. Good Life Café is an organic, raw, vegan restaurant. Executive chef Sharon Wright has been preparing natural, wholesome, nutritious and delicious meals, juices and smoothies for 24 years. The menu is a mix of American, Italian, Indian, Thai and Mexican cuisines. Raw foods consist of unprocessed plant foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees. So, the pizza at Good Life Café? While the café sometimes has different pizzas on its special list, the one permanently on the raw entrees menu is a Flatbread Pizza, with the spread of the day, chopped vegetables, olives, mushrooms and the restaurant's signature marinara sauce. 803.726.2310 / goodlifecafe.net
This elegantly romantic restaurant has a pizza topped with an egg. While none of the thin crust pizza served at the Devine Street Italian eatery is of the ordinary variety that, perhaps, is what makes it most extraordinary. Owner George Kessler grew up in New Jersey with Italian grandparents. He graduated from the University of South Carolina and spent some time traveling throughout Italy. One of Pompeii’s most popular pizzas is The Blue, with sauce, mozzarella, bacon and blueberries. Another choice is the Luce del Sole, with mozzarella, ricotta, shaved pear, apricot chili sauce, prosciutto and arugula. Or Prosciutto and Fig, with mozzarella, fig preserve, prosciutto and arugula. The Whip has mozzarella, whipped cream, sausage and black pepper. Or The Lita, with mozzarella, goat cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, arugula and honey. Pompeii Oven has an open room with a welcoming bar and outdoor seating. 803. 445.1376 / thepompeiioven.com
Nestled in the corner of Trenholm Plaza, this elegantly casual Italian trattoria offers a variety of entrees using local, seasonal ingredients. And it has some elegantly tasty pizzas. These thin-crust pies are baked in a hardwood-burning brick oven at over 700 degrees. If you’re looking for pepperoni, this is not the place. While they do offer a cheese pizza, even it’s an upscale version – that would be the Cinque Formaggi with Fontina, Parmigiana Reggiano, mozzarella, goat and Pecorino Romano cheeses. Other options? What about a BLT with a creamy Gorgonzola vinaigrette, a Salsiccia with spicy Italian sausage, mozzarella and crushed tomato sauce or a Funghi, with sautéed mushrooms, parsley, lemon and Parmigiana Reggiano.
803.787.3949 / rossocolumbia.com
Positioned with a great view of Columbia’s skyline, this State Street restaurant in West Columbia is elegant and a great place to celebrate. With menu items like Duck Confit, Fazzoletti and Butternut Squash Konafi some may be surprised to see wood oven pizzas listed. Then, you notice these aren't your run-of-the-mill pizzas. And you realize it really does fit the menu. There's a Duck Confit Pizza, with caramelized onions and port-soaked cherries. There is a Bologna pizza, with caraway pickled Napa cabbage with mustard sauce. And a Pimento Cheeseburger pizza, with House-made pimento and ground rib-eye. Terra has a Pizza and Pinot night each Wednesday. 803.791.3443 / terrasc.com
Tucked away behind the Carolina Coliseum and within sight of the Colonial Life Arena, many say the best pizza in town can be found on this restaurant’s varied menu. You put together your own stone-fired pizza: You choose between a red pie (tomato sauce with shredded mozzarella) or a white pie (olive oil, fresh garlic, choice of one cheese). Then you select toppings (including breaded eggplant, Peppadew peppers, caramelized onions, grilled chicken, prosciutto, BBQ chicken, salami, shrimp, sliced meatballs, applewood smoked bacon) before choosing a finishing (herbed oil, spicy oil, truffle oil). Eat inside or outdoors. 803.799.1311 / thirstyfellow.com
Tonella’s Pizza Kitchen
Step through the door of this family friendly Italian restaurant in Ballentine and you’re immediately bombarded with the organized chaos in the kitchen before you. Glimpses of pizza being tossed in the air with showers of flour give notice that Tonella’s is serious about its pizza. The New York-style pizza comes with a variety of toppings but the Buffalo Chicken Pizza is a favorite. There’s a satisfying kick with the Buffalo sauce sprinkled on top of the pizza, but the ranch dressing tames it so that most palates will be happy. 803.749.7901 / Tonellaspizzakitchen.com
Tony's Pizzalicious may have a new look with some new menu items, but it’s the same “old” Tony’s that Cayce and West Columbia has known for more than 40 years.
Tony’s has been a mainstay on Knox Abbott Drive since 1967, a place neighbors have depended on for good pizza.
Create your own classics, or choose one of Tony’s selections, including BBQ Chicken and Bacon, Roasted Greek Chicken and Chicken Alfredo. There’s the Steak House Special with tomato-BBQ sauce, steak slices, fresh mushrooms, green peppers and sautéed onions.
One of Tony’s most popular pies is the Dimi’s Deluxe, with pepperoni, ground beef, Italian sausage, fresh mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and bacon. Made with hand tossed dough, fresh homemade sauce and special four cheese blend. 803.794.5469 / TonysPizzalicious.com
Located on the University of South Carolina campus, this pizza joint is popular with students who enjoy its convenient walking-distance location to dorms, classrooms and many off-campus apartments. They also like that it’s good pizza, custom made in the talk-directly-to-the-pizza-maker fashion. Customers go through line and order precisely what they want, starting with three types of dough. Then they choose between six sauces and 45 cheeses, meats and veggie toppings. Customers not only choose what they want, but how much. The open and sunny restaurant has a collegiate feel with views of students scurrying to and from classes, but it’s welcoming to non-students as well. 803.256.0033 / unclemaddios.com
Very’s Great Philly Food
The casual dining Philadelphia themed, family-owned restaurant on Two Notch Road has been selling very great pizza since 1988. The owners, born and raised in Philly, have other things (including, of course, Cheesesteak sandwiches) on the menu, but their pizza has cultivated a following.
One popular pizza combines a Philly favorite – Philly Cheesesteak Pizza. This has Philly steak meat with grilled onions, bell peppers and mushrooms. Another favorite is the Very’s Combo: pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, sausage, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, green olives and black olives. Or for meat lovers there is The Bomb, with pepperoni, beef, sausage, Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, bacon, onions and meatballs topped with hot sauce and Parmesan. 803.788.6254 / verysrestaurant.com
Referred to as a hidden gem on Bush River Road with an old school Italian decor, The Villa is known for its quaint atmosphere and thin-crusted pizza. The family-owned and operated restaurant has been serving Columbia since 1977. You can get 9-inch, 12-inch, or 16-inch pizzas with a variety of toppings. The Villa Special has pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, mushrooms, olives, onions and green pepper. 803.798.6360 / thevillaonbushriverroad.com
This cozy, family-owned downtown restaurant has been serving Italian food since World War II. And while known for its Italian fare, Villa Tronco offers outstanding pizza as well. Sadie Tronco moved to Columbia as a child in 1910. She married James in 1918. During World War II, a lot of Northern soldiers of Italian descent were stationed at Fort Jackson and were homesick for their mother’s cooking. Sadie began making spaghetti and meatballs for those who had become friendly with their family. The demand increased and Sadie, Mama Tronco, became the chef of the first Italian restaurant in Columbia. Mama Tronco also introduced pizza to Columbia and initially found herself giving it away because no one knew what it was. Sadie died in 1988, but her family continues to operate the restaurant which has served Columbia for 76 years. They still roll the pizza crust by hand and cut it into squares so you know it is homemade. The combination pizza has sausage, pepperoni, hamburger, bell peppers, onion and mushrooms. 803.256.7677 / villatronco.com
It’s hard not to have a good time at Village Idiot Pizza, and it’s tougher not to be impressed with the vast array of “Idiot Suggestions,” aka its pizza menu. You have the option of building your own pizza, choosing among red or white sauce or pesto, and an assortment of toppings. Or you can go with an Idiot Suggestion. Among the suggestions for its raved about hand tossed, New York style pizza is the Rucker, a ranch-based pie with grilled chicken and bacon. Or The Freshman Fifteen, pepperoni and extra cheese with two sides of ranch. The Village Special has pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and black olives. Village Idiot opened its Five Points restaurant in 1990. It now has two other locations, in Forest Acres and at Olympia Mills. 803.252.8646 (Five Points) / villageidiotpizza.com
Nestled in the heart of Devine Street, Za’s friendly and open atmosphere is a festive place to enjoy a tasty wood-fired pizza. An outdoor area offers an airy dining experience. Customers can build their own pizzas, choosing from four sauces, then seven cheeses and a variety of meat and vegetable toppings. Or choose one of Za’s specialty pizzas, including the Devine (pulled chicken, Za’s white sauce, gruyere, feta, spinach, pepperoni, prosciutto and bruschetta), a Spicy Hawaiian (mozzarella, capicola, feta, pineapple and sriracha) or a Napa (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto, fresh basil, arugula tossed with lemon juice and Crescent Olive extra virgin olive oil). 803.771.7334 / zasbrickovenpizza.com
The Greek restaurant serves a tasty pizza in a vibrant atmosphere. The Zorba’s Special has pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and anchovies by request. If you’re a meat lover, try the Jimmy’s Special: pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham and meatballs. Want something different? Order the Grecian pizza, with feta, fresh cut tomatoes, black olives and mozzarella. Add a Greek salad to your pizza – it’s a Zorba’s specialty. The locally owned restaurant has a loyal customer base and is very welcoming to strangers as well as regulars. 803.772.4617.
He wants customers to enjoy Il Giorgione as much as he did his favorite food spots in Italy. His pizza already has a great reputation. The Quattro Stagioni pizza has San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, and Parma Ham, centered with an egg. Other options are a Margherita, a Siciliana (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, oregano) or a Genovese (basil pesto, fresh mozzarella and pecorino Romano). 803.521.5063 / ilgiorgione.com
Tucked away in the Fort Jackson area near Rosewood Drive, Beltline Blvd., Devine Street and Garner’s Ferry Road, this Columbia landmark restaurant has fiercely loyal customers, many who taste nostalgia when they savor their long-time favorite pizza.
The thin crust pie, with toppings and cheese spread to the end of the dough, tops the list of favorites with many who ate their first pizzas there, or who gathered there with friends in high school. The cozy, homey atmosphere feels like home to many. Indeed, LaBrasca’s has been serving pizza in Columbia since 1966. Staying open until 11pm on Friday and Saturday makes it a popular late-night stop. 803.782.1098 facebook.com/Labrascas
Main Street Public House
Downtown Columbia has a new neighbor and it's making friends quickly. It’s refined, casual cuisine includes New York Style pizza with a twist.
Sure, you can get a classic New York pepperoni, cooked in Main Street Public House’s custom brick oven. But you can also try an Old World Alla Vodka, with fresh mozzarella, Vodka cream sauce, seasoned fresh mushrooms, peas and prosciutto di Parma. Or how about a Pizza Bianca, with a Parmesan cream sauce, fresh mozzarella, smoked Gouda, sweet onion and fresh, seasoned herbs?
Main Street Public House also adds interest to their meat pizza, with shaved pork belly joining Italian sausage and pepperoni.
All pies are 10 inches for $10. The restaurant offers live music and a rustic bar which, among a selection of beers and cocktails, also has outlets beneath the bar for charging phones. 803.834.3409 / mainstreetpublichouse.com
A quirky pizza joint with more, this Vista restaurant definitely has its own vibe. Housed in an old building on Gervais Street, Mellow Mushroom’s patrons include students, state lawmakers and families. Staying open until midnight on Friday and Saturday makes it a popular late-night spot. It’s vegan friendly with a vegan cheese, and offers a Gluten-free crust. For those who have no limitations, there are lots of options: the House Special has a red sauce base with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, bacon, mushrooms, black olives, Roma tomatoes, green peppers and onions. There is also the Kosmic Karma, a red sauce pizza with feta, mozzarella, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, Roma tomatoes and pesto. You can also build your own. 803.933.9202 / mellowmushroom.com
This Five Points pizzeria on Greene Street is popular among University of South Carolina students but it also a draws other folks who love its New York thin crust and Sicilian style pizzas. Nestled in a corner of Five Points, across from the post office, Nicky’s offers indoor and outdoor seating and a pizza parlor/bar atmosphere. Buy by the slice or the pie – 14-, 16- or 18-inch thin or 17 x 17 Sicilian. Folks can pick toppings, including meatballs, or can select from the menu of specialty pizzas including Chicken Parmigiana, BBQ Chicken or Chicken Bacon Ranch. 803.748.9661 / Nickyspizzasc.com
Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom
Oozing with charm, Old Chicago sits in the heart of The Vista in the historic building that was formerly part of the Adluh Flour Mill. It’s an easy walk to the Colonial Life Arena, which makes it a popular pre- and post- concert and basketball game spot. Is it authentic Chicago style pizza? Depends on who you ask, but most agree it’s good. There are thin crust options as well as deep dish. Classic Recipes include an Hawaiian, Double Decker Pepperoni, a Veggie and Meat pizzas. The Signature selections include a Mediterranean Farmer, Tuscan Chicken with Spinach, Thai Pie and Italian Grinder. The dining room is spacious with TVs throughout, and there are outside tables as well – also with TVs. 803.252.3100 / oldchicago.com
Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria
In the shadow of the South Carolina State House, this new Main Street pizza spot is quickly gathering a following. Customize a 12-inch pie or choose one of the restaurant’s combinations, like the World Pizza Competition winning Chipolte Pizza. This has chipotle dressing, shredded mozzarella, roasted chicken, topped with crema, and fresh pico de gallo. Whether you create your own or get a specialty, the pizza starts with Neapolitan dough and gets cooked in a brick, wood fired oven at 800 degrees for 90 seconds. The restaurant's open and airy, and offers sidewalk dining on Main Street. 803.661.9096 / personapizza.com
The Pompeii Oven
Sitting near the town limits of Chapin, Pompeii Oven welcomes folks to town with unique pizza that could make you forget pepperoni forever.
Pompeii Oven pizza is cooked in a wood-burning Pompeii oven. All pizzas are 12 inches in diameter, charred and crispy on the outside, soft and moist in the center. Pompeii Oven uses "00" grade Caputo flour from Naples to make its dough, with no oils, fats, or sugars added. Only certified San Marzano tomatoes grown in the volcanic soil around Mt. Vesuvius are used to make the sauce. And the toppings? Don't even think about asking for pepperoni. Blueberries, yes. Whipped cream? Yes. Pepperoni, no.