Beach fare to please the crowd
By Stephanie Burt
By its nature, 30A means family-friendly, and family-friendly by nature means pizza. Pizza feeds a crowd, pizza pleases the kids, and pizza usually pleases the parents, too. For those who don’t want to get out of a bathing suit, it’s the perfect call-and-pick-up order, or for those who do but are a little too tired to dress up for the evening, an in-restaurant pizza party makes sense, and everybody goes home happy.
So, it makes sense there are plenty of places to score a pie on 30A, but here are three slices of pizza heaven – starting with a restaurant with four locations – that need to be on your radar this season. They celebrate families and they welcome guests into theirs with pizzas made fresh, hot from the oven.
Pizza By the Sea
Pizza by the Sea has just opened its newest location on Highway 98 in the Market Shops of Miramar Beach. It’s the fourth for the 30A mainstay, and although expanding was not in the original plan for owners Jason and Kristi Beer, they went with the flow.
“We bought this business, and it had one location, in 2011 from wonderful brand creators,” Kristi said. “We’d been tourists here for about 10 years, and we thought we were going to slow down a bit by moving here, but Pizza by the Sea staff members were just ready to grow, and we went with it.”
It’s important to the couple that all the restaurants have a child-friendly and general family-friendly environment, and they encourage their team members to get to know guests, many of whom return annually on vacation. Additionally, Pizza by the Sea focuses on local community involvement, from supporting school teams and recreational leagues, to donating food and funds to a variety of charities.
To that end, the Beers stress that each one of their four locations has its own feel, its own vibe, which grows organically out of the community that grounds it.
“We work to try to adapt with that,” Jason said, “not fight it and make it cookie cutter. It’s fun to see how the different places evolve.”
The menu has evolved a bit as well since he and his wife have taken over the business. There is still the popular Kickin’ Chicken, with basil pesto, grilled chicken, feta cheese, bacon and red onions, and of course, plenty of pies with sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella, but these days Pizza By the Sea offers a gluten-free crust option and Yum bowls: all the toppings of the pizza sans crust.
Kristi explains that “We love eating here, but we needed a lower-carb option since we eat here so much. We created the Yum Bowls for us but they’ve really caught on for the customers. It’s a fun twist.” And that’s the motto of Pizza by the Sea: familiar but fun twists made for family-friendly meals, with a smile.
With locations in WaterColor, Gulf Place, Seacrest, and Sandestin, visit them online at www.pizzabythesea.com for contact information and hours.
Angelina’s Pizzeria & Pasta
This iconic 30A eatery has been open since 1993, so it’s easy to say that many children have grown up with Angelina’s cheese bread being as much of a tradition of their beach vacations as the sugar sand beach afternoons. The green and white striped awning is a mainstay along this stretch of 30A, but it’s what is behind it that really keeps the customers lining up on a busy Saturday evening.
Angelina’s is a family atmosphere, welcoming families to eat and with a staff that in many ways functions as one. That vibe seems to carry over to the menu as well. Italian classics like Veal Marsala and Linguine with Clam Sauce are available in addition to the pizza – something unusual for “pizza joints” in these parts. There’s been a little updating through the years – the prices have changed with the times and the tickets are no longer handwritten – but the New York style thin crust pizza, hand-tossed and delivered hot to the table is still the same, calzones are just as stuffed with cheese that oozes with every bite, the Antipasta Salad is just as cool and filling on a hot day as it always was, and familiar faces greet you with a smile.
Angelina’s Pizzeria & Pasta can be found at 4005 East Co. Hwy. 30A, in the Seagrove Beach area of Santa Rosa Beach. They serve Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Visit them on the web at www.angelinas30a.com.
One of the newest kids on the block, Southside Slice in Rosemary Beach, delivers just what it promises: slices of pizza without the commitment to purchase the whole pie, though, of course, whole pies are available, too. Slices are $6 a piece with toppings $1 each, so variety is the name of the game, which makes it perfect for large parties or quick trips off the beach.
Beyond the slice menu, the specialty pizza menu has some standouts, namely the Surf & Turf Pizza, topped with shrimp, pork belly, and shitake mushrooms, all atop a white sauce. Rich and decadent, the large size usually assures that most guests will go home with a leftover slice. The sub sandwich menu is also substantive, and there’s beer, wine, and plenty of soda choices for your Southside pairings. It’s casual, convenient, and yet there’s plenty to come back for at Southside Slice.
Southside Slice is at 74 Town Hall Road, Suite 1B, in Rosemary Beach. Hours run 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Find them online at www.slice30a.com.