'Extreme' addition to local pizza scene
By: Omar Yacoubi
Issue date: 10/3/05
The latest addition to the retail shops at Ramz Hall, Extreme
Pizza opened its doors Sept. 28 to a steady stream of VCU
students and Richmond locals curious about the first new
pizza place in town since California Pizza Kitchen opened
at Short Pump Town Center two years ago.
Like CPK, Extreme Pizza is a California chain, and it uses
innovative recipes with Pacific-Southwest influences to
provide pizza with new flavor. Unlike CPK, Extreme Pizza
is geared toward the college crowd, with pictures reflecting
its founder's love of extreme sports featured prominently
in each location. No surprise, then, that it was one of
the first sponsors of the X Games, an annual competition
for extreme sports.
Extreme Pizza started out in 1994 as a small business on
San Francisco's Fillmore Street, a trendy nightclub district
with intense competition for flavorful pizza where shops
with names like Pizza Orgasmica compete for partygoers'
attention - and their taste buds. With several locations
up and down the West Coast, their Richmond location marks
their first foray east of the Mississippi.
Why Richmond? It might be because VCU has one of the largest
liberal arts student populations on the East Coast, and
many West Coast locations found their success in being located
near campuses with students hungry for something other than
the ordinary slice of cheese.
Enter Extreme Pizza. With nine kinds of cheeses to choose
from, the era of the boring pizza slice is over. Soy, gorgonzola,
sage, cilantro and pepperoncini are just a few of the varied
toppings available to the distinguishing palate. Not sure
what you want? Signature pizzas like "Peace in the
Middle East," "The Screaming Tomato" and
"Poultrygeist" await your selection.
For those over the age of 21, cold beer and wine is available
in the California tradition, and for everyone else, Pepsi
products flow from the fountain. I'm a Coke fan, but after
tasting these pizzas I can understand why Pepsi is a better
complement - it has a smoother taste that lets the distinct
flavor of the pizzas shine through.
There are plenty of vegetarian choices, too. One low-fat
offering, the "White Out," comes with all the
vegetables and no cheese. Vegans can choose soy as well.
The usual pizza sidekicks are available - buffalo wings,
for one, but there are also salads, calzones and subs. Pizzas
are made to order right in front of you at a topping station
that looks more like a Subway sub shop than a pizza place,
and the pizzas roll through an automatic oven that leaves
the pies coming out toasty fresh.
Prices range from a reasonable $2.25 for one of the generous
daily slice offerings to about $4-6.50 for an 8-inch "indee"
personal-sized pizza. For extremely large appetites, there's
the $13 to $24 "huge" 18-inch. A helpful scale
in the menu and below the counter tells you how many people
each size will feed (for the record: the huge feeds four
Other than the stuffed deep-dish offerings, Extreme pizzas
come in only one kind of crust. It's somewhere between thin
and thick, toasty but chewy. Because the toppings and cheese
are the main attraction, the crust doesn't get in the way,
but it's a perfect complement. It's as though the crust's
creators took Aristotle's Golden Mean to heart before setting
to their work.
Forget the fake Sbarro at Shafer Court Dining Center; this
is where you'll find the freshness and the flavor.
© 2005 The Commonwealth Times