Alex’s Pizza has been a staple in downtown Rolla since 1964. The restaurant is certainly one of the most well known in Rolla, and has become a local favorite spot for everything from parent visits to first dates. Despite this history, the food at Alex’s pizza doesn’t live up to the fame.
The menu features many options that at first seem strange. Pizza, gyros, burgers, and pasta all can be found on the unfocused menu. Despite being known for their pizza, I have been disappointed time and time again.
Alex’s pizza struggles to find a niche for their style of pizza. It is not fresh enough to be authentic pizza margherita, nor is it greasy and tasty enough to become one of those guilty pleasure pizza places. Instead it falls somewhere in between, providing a combination of bland crust, cheap tasting cheese and inconsistent sauce.
They do feature a variety of toppings, often with a greek theme which can lead to some interesting combinations. Unfortunately the toppings are often let down by the rest of the pizza. The pizza is thin crust, but it looks better than it tastes, ending in their signature braided crust.
Their gyros also fail to impress, perhaps because the toppings to just tomatoes and red onions, changing what should be a mixture of flavors into a piece of pita with meat on it. The gyros are not terrible, but they will leave you wishing for the much cheaper and more delicious gyros you can get from a street food vendor.
Luckily, the restaurant itself is clean. The decor is rustic and makes the restaurant feel like a comfortable place to spend time with friends and family. The service has also always been great. Food comes out quickly and the wait staff is friendly. Because of their addition, there is plenty of room, and the restaurant rarely feels too crowded.
Like most restaurants in Rolla there are also TVs scattered around the dining room. The TVs clash a bit with the general appearance of the restaurant, but also make it a more relaxed. Alex’s feels less like fine dining and more like a local hangout spot.
Even though I had a low opinion of Alex’s, I decided to give them another chance before writing this article. I returned to Alex’s pizza on a Friday night to see if they could change my mind about their food.
The night was off to a good start when I arrived, joining a group of friends at one of the tables in the new section of their dining area. Our waitress was very friendly, as the staff usually is at Alex’s.
I decided to give their pasta a try and decided on their Tuscan Shrimp Pasta: shrimp, penne pasta, mushrooms and spinach with a rich sun dried tomato cream sauce. I had high hopes that this would be the dish from Alex’s that finally made me understand the hype.
The food came out quickly, and looked amazing. The green of the spinach combined with the red and orange of the sauce made the pasta an impressive sight. I couldn’t wait to dig in.
Unfortunately, I quickly found the pasta was almost too soft to skewer with a fork without breaking. This was not the al dente pasta I had hoped for, and was actually quite overcooked. The pasta was far too squishy, which gave it a nearly indistinguishable texture from the mushrooms.
Perhaps the best thing that I can say about the dish is that the sauce was good, the creaminess of the sauce was perfectly contrasted by the tangy flavor of the sun dried tomatoes. Sadly, there was too much sauce, and the shrimp, noodles, spinach, and mushrooms were swimming in it. This led to the sauce overpowering the flavors of both the spinach and mushrooms.
Because the sauce was good and there were plenty of shrimp, this dish raised my opinion of Alex’s Pizza a bit, but a few simple mistakes kept the Tuscan Shrimp Pasta from greatness. This mediocrity seems to be the common thread between the food at Alex’s, and so sadly, I cannot highly recommend this Rolla classic.