Pizza Research Institute
530 Blair Blvd
Eugene, OR 97402-4630
Wow, Pizza Research Institute gets really strong ratings online. It must be a great place to eat, right? Uhhh…sorta…but maybe not. Depends on your point of view and how important food is to your restaurant experience.
Yes, this is another one of those places that gets huge support more for political reasons than food reasons, i.e. vegetarian or vegan people go WAY out of their way to support this place based on its/their lifestyle politics. So don’t expect PRI to live up to the rave reviews. It won’t. Expect some positives and some big negatives too.
Decor: It’s an old police station that has been minimally fixed up and turned into a restaurant. The new PRI location is oh so grungy yet equally oh so PC. (The main eating area appears to be the former patrol car maintenance section of the police station. One wonders if it is really such a good idea to prepare and eat food in a location that has soaked up years of motor oil and gasoline fumes?)
Service: Spaced-out young ladies with expected hippie-ish clothing, standard tattoos, de rigueur piercings, and boring little mini braids in their hair. (This whole “look” is as predictable as a Wall Street investment banker’s suit and tie.) They’ll make you wait by the front door for a long long time if they are busy doing something/anything else. And they disappear for long stretches of time when you need something at your table. Water, napkins, etc. are stored at a table over on the side of the restaurant, so don’t bother asking. DIY. Sometimes I wish I could just go into PRI’s kitchen and make my own pizza. It would be so much more efficient and less frustrating that way.
-The Insalata Capresi is really tasty and super filling.
-Bread Spirals are large-ish dog-poop-shaped swirls of pizza dough that you dip in sauce. Sounds bad, but it’s pretty good. Poor man’s pizza!
-The Crust: The crust on PRI’s pizzas is medium thickness and dry. Dry like the Gobi desert and my wit. If they overcook it by 60 seconds (like they did once for me), it will be like a burnt thick matzo cracker. If they cook it right, it is passable.
-Vegan Pizza: The vegan pizza stinks. I mean it literally stinks. The main topping is like something made from tofu, mixed in a blender, and stored uncovered in the refrigerator for 4 weeks until glops (definition: “a thick semi-liquid substance that is usually unattractive in appearance”) form. If I was going to be a vegan, I would eat lots of veggies, whole wheat bread, nuts, pastas, and fruit. I would not eat stinky fake-cheese stuff like this or dry cardboard fake-meat tempeh or any of the other things that try to imitate non-vegan food.
-Veggie Pizza: Not bad but not great either. Go with lots of toppings, otherwise it gets a little boring.
-Meat-topping Pizza: They don’t serve this. You should know better than that.
-Diet Cokes: They don’t serve this either. Are you starting to get the point? They know what’s good for you and that’s what you’re going to get. Now, shutup, and order one of their “iced coconut organic french roast coffees”, “rhubarb dry sodas”, or “orange n’ cream Stuart’s sodas”.
Price: Expect to pay $20-24 for a large pizza which, by my calculation, is 10% organic ingredients cost and 90% gross profit. Seems all the hippie love of the owners does not quite extend to the prices…
Summary: It’s style over substance at Pizza Research Institute. If you love the politics, then it’s a 4 star restaurant. If you just want good pizza, nice service, in a clean environment, it’s 2.5 stars.