Pizza ranks near the top of the most comforting of comfort foods. Sold whole or by the slice, various types of ovens are used to bake the staple that hails from Naples, Italy. It’s rare to find a person who doesn’t appreciate the delicious combination of bubbling, melted cheese atop a hand-tossed bread crust.

Consider these five pizza stops for delicious group dining experiences. 

Charleston, West Virginia

Grape pizza, Pies & Pints, Charleston, W.Va.
[/media-credit] Grape pizza, Pies & Pints, Charleston, W.Va.

Pies & Pints is among the many hip-and-trendy establishments lining the downtown Charleston, West Virginia, shopping district. A popular eatery among tourists and locals alike, Pies & Pints is best known for its wide variety of specialty gourmet pizza and craft beer.

A staple ingredient at Pies & Pints, Gorgonzola cheese is found in many items on the menu. Mixed with fresh rosemary, the pungent blue cheese offsets the sweet undertones of red grapes used to make the award-winning Grape Pie. In all, over 20 unique house and specialty pizzas are available to groups dining at the Charleston location. 

Encouraged to visit during down times (typically between 2 and 6 p.m.), groups are welcome to any open table in the 90-seat dining room. Pizza pies come in two sizes, 10- and 16-inch — perfect for sharing. Pies & Pints does not take reservations, but appreciates a two-day advance notice for large groups visiting during prime dining hours.

Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours
Brooklyn, New York

Tony Muia, owner and operator, A Slice of Brooklyn Tours, Brooklyn, N.Y.
[/media-credit] Tony Muia, owner and operator, A Slice of Brooklyn Tours, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A trip to Brooklyn, New York, isn’t complete without a slice of authentic Italian pizza. Groups wanting to tour the city’s iconic neighborhoods, parks, landmarks and well-known movie locations will love the Original Brooklyn Pizza Tour offered exclusively through Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours.

Starting in Manhattan, the 4-½ hour multimedia sightseeing tour takes groups through all of Brooklyn with stops at two iconic pizzerias, Neapolitan-inspired at Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge and Sicilian-style at L&B Spumoni Gardens.

Tours typically sell out and advance reservations are strongly encouraged. Knowledgeable, local, tour guides accompany each group and bring their sassy personalities with them. Tour buses accommodate up to 55-individuals, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Groups may arrange private tours with the Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours ticket sales office.

Benny Marconis pizza
Roanoke, Virginia

One of two-dozen Benny Marconi’s pizza locations along the Eastern Seaboard, the downtown Roanoke, Virginia, location occupies prime real estate with its easy walking distance from the city’s town square.

A convenient stopping off point for groups touring the museum and shopping corridor, Benny’s is best known for its 28-inch, 8-pound pizzas. Six slices to a pizza, each massive triangle is commonly referred to as the “Virginia Slice.”

Reservations are not accepted and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Patrons are welcome to enjoy Benny’s pizza in the colorfully decorated dining room or as a takeout order. Pizza is typically served within 3–4 minutes of ordering time. Standard pizza items are cheese, pepperoni and sausage and specials from vegetarian to mac and cheese with bacon pizza.

Grand Rapids Downtown Market
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, Mich.
[/media-credit] Grand Rapids Downtown Market, Grand Rapids, Mich.

The 2013 opening of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market ushered in a new era in the Michigan city that prefers its food fresh and local. The $30 million project has space for culinary entrepreneurs, chefs, artisans and merchants. Market Hall, the indoor area with specialty food stores, is open year-round. During the growing season, groups visiting the outdoor market find vendors eager to answer questions and give tips about preparing their products — all while street performers entertain the crowds. The Grand Rapids Downtown Market hosts DIY pizza-making classes to help groups learn to make their favorite “pie” at home.

Located nearby the market, Rocket Pies offers visitors Neapolitan-inspired pizza. Rocket Pies uses organic USA flour, leavened naturally by wild yeast, then topped with sauce from organic USA tomatoes and cheese made in Fennville, Michigan, from grass-pastured cows. Plus salads bowls and six taps of craft beer are on the menu. 

Organ Stop Pizza
Mesa, Arizona

Wurlitzer performance at Organ Stop Pizza, Mesa, Ariz.
[/media-credit] Wurlitzer performance at Organ Stop Pizza, Mesa, Ariz.

Each year, Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, Arizona, welcomes hundreds of thousands of patrons through its doors. Serving a delicious assortment of pizza, pastas, appetizers, sandwiches and salads, the restaurant draws hungry guests eager to hear the “Mighty Wurlitzer” theater-style pipe organ roar.

Below the dining room, three high-power wind turbines push air into a complex network of pipes, traps and percussion instruments at a rate of up to 14,000 cubic feet per minute. More complex than a classical pipe organ, only a handful of concert-level organists in the world are capable of performing on the Wurlitzer’s massive console.

Patrons are served at communal dining tables and enjoy lively musical tunes. Lunchtime performances are followed by a demonstration of the 23-stop pipe organ and a question-and-answer session hosted by the staff.

Reservations are taken for groups of 20 or more. Semiprivate and private party options are available for groups of 50 and 100 patrons, respectively. Music begins 30 minutes after opening, and each performance lasts between 30–45 minutes with a 10- to 15-minute break between each musical set.

Article by Julie Henning