By Tobey Schmidt
Gourmet Pizza, 605 N. 4th Ave., Tucson
In many American cities it isn’t hard to find a decent pizza joint right around the corner. Tucson is not one of those cities. You have to search for decent pizza. When you find Magpies, you’ll see that it gets the job done.
Certainly it’s popular. But after my visit I’d say its popularity comes primarily from the fact that it is located on 4th Ave. down, one of the most frequented commercial strips near the University of Arizona campus.
I am a kid who grew up near Chicago, where pizza is taken seriously. We know our pizza and we know when it’s good.
So why am I less than enthralled? Because Magpies’ service and portion sizes took away from my potential to have a good experience.
The restaurant is really well decorated, with trendy outdoor string lights hanging from the roof to the gate around the outdoor patio. Like many places in Tucson, Magpies had outdoor seating and an outdoor bar, in addition to indoor seating and a bar. It was a Saturday night when I visited, and there was an acoustic musician playing. Either he was a little too loud, or we were seated a little too close to his speakers.
After few minutes my guest and I were brought a basket of popcorn, lightly salted and buttered. Most restaurants give bread before the meal, but that would be odd for a pizza joint, so they gave us popcorn, the perfect appetizer.
The menu is fairly basic, with the options of personal sized pizzas, small, medium, large, extra large, and even a jumbo. They also offer calzones, which are quite pricy.
It took another couple of minutes for the server to come for our drink orders, which were just water. By then, we already knew what we were going to order. Though the restaurant did not seem too busy, the waiter did. He quickly jotted down our orders and left.
The problem was that once he left, he didn’t come back until he brought our food.
That was 40 minutes later.
In the meantime another worker – the server’s assistant? – came and refilled our popcorn once and our drinks a few times, but only after we flagged him down to ask.
Although we were hungry, we did not want to completely fill up on popcorn. About 10 minutes before our food came out, my guest and I thought maybe they had forgotten our order.
Finally, the server came back for the second time with our order, two personal pizzas. My first thought as he set the plates down: “Wow, I was not expecting it to be this small. Is $8 right?”
The pizza was thick-crusted, with a lot of cheese and fresh pineapple, peppers, and onions that had been cooked underneath the cheese. It was a good, home-style-type pizza, though I can’t say it was worth a 40-minute wait and $8.
Fortunately, the 4th Ave vibe, the live music, and the overall atmosphere saved us from having a terribly bad time at Magpies, though it would have been nice to spend that $8 on something a little more substantial — and a little more timely.