In 1990 the Pizza Palace team had the opportunity to buy a restaurant on King Street, in Riverside. At the time, you couldn’t get real, New York-style pizza in Jacksonville, and there was a real need for the type of neighborhood restaurant where families could come in, relax, and enjoy themselves. They took the plunge and have never looked back! Pizza Palace is a cozy, family-friendly restaurant in the heart of San Marco. They’ve been serving the same classic Italian food to the people of Jacksonville for over 25 years. From the beginning, Pizza Palace has used family recipes – think classic Italian with a Mediterranean twist. Over the years, they’ve seen some toppings and menu items go in and out of style, but they have always stayed true to their mission of serving classic Italian comfort food. The two things the folks at Pizza Palace tell us set them apart are fresh dough made in house daily and extremely high quality low moisture content mozzarella which has the ability to melt in a gooey, cheesy way while keeping its flavor and a nice consistency.
Address: 1959 San Marco Blvd., Jacksonville FL 32207.
The folks at Pizza Palace invited us out to see what all they have to offer. We kicked things off with the Mediterranean bread ($11) which Pizza Palace regulars affectionately call Doctor’s Bread since it ended up on their menu due a local doctor constantly asking them to make it for him. Doctor’s Bread is a giant circle of dough almost like a huge pita served with a mixture of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, spices, and feta cheese. It’s a plain pizza crust, with no cheese or toppings, baked in the oven until it puffs up into a giant, crusty pocket of bread. This starter, as far as we can tell, is unique to Pizza Palace. We really enjoyed it and think virtually anyone who enjoys pita bread will be a fan. Sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go.
Next we tried The Greek Pizza ($11 sm, $18 med, $21 large) – feta, mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, and green and black olives. Sometimes when you add feta to a pizza it stands out strongly from the mozzarella and detracts from the overall cohesiveness of flavors, since mozzarella is so mild comparatively. In this case the cheeses seemed to blend nicely and work well together. Black olives outnumbered green by a 2 to 1 margin which I personally thought was about the right ratio since green have a sharper taste than black. There may be a better way to describe this pizza but the word that comes to mind for me is smooth. It simply has a smooth taste and mouth-feel. Try it and comment with the word you’d use to describe it. If I had any complaint, it’s that the thin crust didn’t have the snap that good thin crust usually offers. Luckily the friend I brought along for this review has been to Pizza Palace a time or two and shared with me that this lack of snap (crispness) is easily remedied by asking the pizza to be cooked a bit longer than usual when you order. We suggest you do that.
The chicken and spinach calzone ($12) was the last of the items we tried. The chicken and spinach calzone was filled with grilled chicken, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, and fresh garlic. This calzone just worked. The cheeses were nicely balanced offering a nice texture and avoiding the lumpiness some folks associated with ricotta. The fresh garlic came through nicely and the grilled chicken was…well….grilled chicken. If you’re into calzones I’m fairly sure you’ll enjoy this one.
When you dine at Pizza Palace you walk up to the counter and order then they give you a number to display on your table and they deliver your food. If you need refills the staff walking around will be happy to get them for you or you can walk your glass up to the counter if you need a refill more immediately. The staff at Pizza Palace were very friendly and willing to help in any way they could. Overall we enjoyed our visit to Pizza Palace and if we were in the San Marco area and in the mood for pizza or a calzone we’d stop in again.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.