Richmond’s best slice of pizza

Isaiah Cox, Online Editor

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Americans love pizza. That is a simple fact of life. On average, according to the National Association of Pizza Operators, an American eats 46 slices of pizza per year. It is also estimated that about 3 billion pizzas are sold in America each year. There are arguments about what place, what type or what city has the best pizza. Chicago or New York? Pepperoni or cheese? Pineapple or no pineapple? Here in Richmond, there are many options of where you can purchase that pizza. There are mainstream chains such as Papa Johns, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars or Papa Murphy’s then it gets more regional. Mancino’s Pizza and Pizza King are both Midwest based establishments that are in Richmond. Local to just Indiana is Big Boyz Pizza and local to just Richmond is Mercurio’s Pizza. We took to Twitter to ask out of the last four, Pizza King, Big Boyz, Mercurio’s and Mancino’s, who has the best pizza in Richmond. Unsurprisingly, Pizza King, which has a famed location in Richmond named Clara’s, won 78% of the votes, followed by Mancino’s at 9%, Mercurio’s at 8% and Big Boyz at 5%.  To take this vote to the test, I set out to sample from those four spots. I sent out letters to the establishments, took my press pass, a camera and fellow staff member, Conner Necessary, and proceeded to form my opinions.

The first location we visited was Big Boyz Pizza. Located in the center of Richmond just across from Richmond Civic Theatre, Big Boyz is a small restaurant but is very nice, as it was just opened last year. There are not too many dinner tables and it is not cluttered, the dinner tables are to the left and right and just carry out to the left. The atmosphere is inviting but is surpassed by the quality of the service received and the food there. The staff got us quickly seated and within 5-10 minutes our pizza arrived. The pizza of our choice was the specialty, as it will be with all the places on the list. The specialty at Big Boyz was simply Big Boyz Pizza. The pizza was topped with pepperoni, sausage, beef, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. The tall pizza, from content alone, seemed to be worth the price, 8” for $6.50, 12” for $11.50, 16” for $20.50, but all that matters is the taste. The fluffy crust with a crispy bottom held the pizza’s many toppings and the blanket of cheese keeps the topping held on. The well mixed set of toppings along the delicious sauce left no overbearing taste, but a delicious pizza. It is a little messy but that is expected with so many toppings. By the time Conner and I finished eating, we were completely full off of the 8” pizza we shared. This started off with a high bar set and for the upcoming four rounds, we felt as if we found the knockout punch in the first. For the combination of the nice restaurant in the middle of the city and the absolutely wonderful pizza and price, I decided to give it 9/10, the only bad takeaways being the lack of tables, lack of decoration in the restaurant and maybe too much sauce, but of course that is nitpicking. Big Boyz is a great place to either go to lunch with friends or dinner with the family and has a delicious pizza.

The next stop was at a location just down the street from the high school, Mancino’s Pizza. Now you may sometimes see this logo plastered on boxes in the lunchroom or may drive by it on National Road West. The spirit of Richmond High School is seen in the decor with NCC posters and RHS Athletics memorabilia are plastered on the walls. The old-school arcade machines and metal tables and chairs give it an authentic local pizza place feel. We go up to the counter and order the Mancino’s Pride: pepperoni, ham, sausage, mushroom, green peppers, onions, black olives and mozzarella cheese. Sitting down and looking over the restaurant, the chairs and tables are a bit cluttered and the television is playing CNN a little too loudly. The pizza takes a while but when it arrives, it’s fresh. There is a good amount of cheese that sits well over the thin crust. The large amount of toppings coincide with little sauce but the pizza is delightful. The black olives are the most prominent topping but overall, the mix of the toppings on the pizza leads to a more than satisfactory dish. The price is fine for the taste, 9” $7.19, 12” $15.99, 16” $21.49. Overall, I would give it a 7.5/10, the pizza itself was good and the decor looked nice but the food took too long and the black olives were too dominant in the taste. Mancino’s is a restaurant to take kids or go out to lunch for a quick and cheap bite to eat, but maybe isn’t the nicest place to go out on a dinner date or to take a lot of people, because of the time.

The only Richmond exclusive pizza on the list, Ann Mercurio’s carryout only pizza is on the upper south side riddled with construction but no change is needed for the retro style pizza shop.

”I like [Mercurio’s] because I smack it at least once a week and my dude Haynes works there,” junior Jake Miller said. “And the cheese is very good.”

The open shop lets you order your pizza and watch the fresh pie being made in front of you. Just a few benches and chairs does make it seem a little messy and It does take a while seeing it is only carry out, but the pizza satisfies. The box opens to reveal a wrapped pizza that is kept warm through the transportation process. We got the Deluxe Pizza, 9” for $10.00, 12” for $15.00 and 16” for $21.60 The wrapping comes off to reveal a pizza with enough sausage to start a small deli business. Although some may see this as too much, it is a staple of Mercurio’s and fits in well with the slew of other toppings. The pizza is in all topped with pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms and sweet peppers. The pizza was very much a mess but the mess what well worth it. The many toppings and thick crust led to a filling and delicious meal. Just like Big Boyz and Mancino’s, Mercurio’s has its own specialty. With the option to get a fresh baked pizza or a frozen, ready to cook pizza, carry out is Mercurio’s forte, so a call in before and a quick pick up, Mercurio’s is an opportunity to support a local business while also getting incredible and filling pizza. That’s why I give Mercurio’s an 8/10.

Our last stop was to the supreme pizza, pun intended. Pizza King is a Mid-West specific restaurant and Clara’s is a franchise of that company and has become the most popular in Richmond.

“Pizza king is the best,” senior Matt Weiss said. “I think that they cool theirs the best and put the right amount of topping on and def have the best breadsticks so that’s good. It has the most locations as well.”

Other students agree with Weiss on Pizza King’s reign over the others.

“Pizza King, obviously,” sophomore Kaya Bane said. “I really like the thin crust and the breadsticks are probably the best part. It’s a little pricey but it’s worth it.”

“To me the taste is what makes it better and it really stands out because it’s different from other pizzas,” sophomore Brenda Garcia said. “I also really like the place and atmosphere of it because it’s a nice spot to just hang out with friends or family.”

I agree with all aspects of these opinions. The venue is incredible. You see the two-player arcade machine as soon as you walk in. The service was very helpful and quickly sorted through our situation after some confusion. As you walk in you see the classic big red double-decker bus. This with the floral light fixture above the tables, the “Ding-A-Ling” phone to ring in your order and the big signs on the walls makes for a beautiful and big restaurant. The dimly-lit dining hall gives the place a perfect dinner meal feeling. The pizzas have many size options. We ordered The Royal Feast, topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions and red and green peppers. Prices and sizes are 8” for $7.69, 10” or small pan for $11.29, 12” or medium pan for $16.49, 14” for $21.29 and 16” or twin medium pans for $26.09. Obviously this is more expensive than the others but the taste is undeniable. The floury pizza crust is about as close to perfect as possible. The mix of toppings and cheese leaves no dominant taste in your mouth, but there could have been more sauce. Regardless, the pizza just felt right and the area is beautiful so that’s why Pizza King, and in specific Clara’s, receives a 9/10 for me. The price is high but worth it in terms of the quality of the restaurant and the quality of pizza, Clara’s is undeniable.

No matter what, each place has its own presentation and recipe for the pizza, making each unique and viable option depending on the situations. The great pizza debate will go on forever but the question is, which will you choose?

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