As a kid, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made me believe pizza could energize me to lengths unknown to mankind, or at least other wide-eyed brats my age. Now college has trained me to recognize pizza as that one comfort food that no matter what hour of the day, how plain or how grand, how hot or cold, will always hit the spot. Sure there are times when your acid reflux may be raging out of control and the last bit of Tums was used to recover from your neighbor’s house party, but for the most part, pizza is always a “good call” as Ole Man Miller would say. And when you are looking to make a good call, dial up Pizza Al’s on University Avenue…this is the gem of the Morgantown pizza scene.
Ok, so maybe that last statement was a little hard to take for Casa de Amici diehards or pizza penny-pinchers that dine on Little Caeser’s, but Pizza Al’s is where it’s at. And where it’s at is a popular question when talking to Morgantown pizza sleepers that have never tried “Al’s.” Pizza Al’s is located by McDonald’s on Evansdale and the building it’s housed in definitely wasn’t inspired by some Tuscan villa. However, don’t read this book (or restaurant) by it’s cover, take a step inside the joint and you are immediately greeted with some of the cheapest pizza prices in town. A 20 inch large pizza runs at just under $10.00 (ask Casa for the same deal and you’ll end up paying close to $20) while the 14 inch small is only $5.50. I don’t know about you all but I’ll pay an extra 50 cents for a pizza that doesn’t have more sauce then ingredients on a sponge-like crust, a la Little Caesar’s.
But it’s not the cost of the pie that attracts long hair purple pizza eaters to Pizza Al’s, the experience of the cooks and the quality of the food is top notch. The owners of Pizza Al’s have been in the dough tossing business for over 43 years (nearly twice as long as I’ve been on this Earth) and if you’re a Morgantownie then you may recognize Pizza Al’s as the restaurant formerly known as Pizzeria Italia. No matter the name, these guys know how to make a pizza with a crispy crust, flavorful and fresh toppings, and a sense of pride when each pie is sliced up for a customer. One of the owners told me today that “if you don’t cook pizza good, it tastes like sh*t.” No doubt a reference to his next door pizza rivals Little Caesar’s.
My favorite pie from Pizza Al’s has to be their White Pizza. Made the old-world way with Ricotta and Mozzarella cheeses and dashes of basil and garlic. It’s a little on the dry side but the power of simplistic ingredients produces a truly unique and mouthwatering flavor. Of course the restaurant offers a wide variety of toppings and I can honestly say I have never had a bad experience with a Pizza Al’s pizza. I know this post sounds like an advertisement for the little pizza shop but I’m trying to be objective as possible. If I did have any qualms with Pizza Al’s, it’s their obvious reluctance to entice customers to eat in. With no free drink refills and nearly zero party seating, it’s pretty much a takeout only kind of deal.
Like opinions, everyone has their favorite pizza place and Pizza Al’s just so happens to be mine. Maybe it was the fact it was conveniently located a stones throw away from my Freshman dorm, or maybe it’s just the fact that the pizza is “cooked good” and doesn’t taste like…well…you know. I leave you with a little story associated with Pizza Al’s. One night, while hosting a get together of friends and neighbors, two people at my house got into a rather heated verbal argument. It appears these two “sober” individuals were having a little debate about the best pizza place in the University City. One guy was saying “Al’s” while the other screamed “Pizza Al’s!?!,” albeit with an Anchorman-esk questioning sound to each shriek. When I pointed out to the distraught revelers that they were saying the same place was the best pizza shop in Morgantown, they embraced and became friends. Though I don’t expect you to embrace a stranger when conversing over pizza, I do recommend trying out Pizza Al’s…or “Al’s.”