– Klondike Pizza –
Out of the ordinary pizza parlor serves up out of this world pizza
Alaska is ripe with numerous superlatives. It has the highest mountain, the most expansive open space, the largest variety of wildlife, the greatest oil reserves, the most incredible glaciers, but the best pizza? Not so much. To find the best pizza, you have to come to the quaint little village of Arroyo Grande, to the home of Klondike Pizza.
Housed in the basement of an historic building on Bridge Street near the creek that flows through town, you will find a slice of the actual Klondike and a mystery that you may or may not be able to solve. As you enter you pass 10 framed pages, each telling a particular story as to how Mike and Pamela Dennis, the proprietors of the restaurant, came to meet and start the Klondike back in 1988. As you read them, beginning with the Original story and traveling through the True, Valid, Authentic, Factual, Official, Genuine, Real, and Honest story of how it all began, you begin to realize that this is NOT an ordinary pizza parlor.
Peanuts, bears, moose and more
The floor is littered with the remnants of peanut shells, the ceiling is covered with Alaskan-themed rugs and two huge American flags, old Alaskan license plates, plaques with humorous sayings, and little, stuffed bears and moose toys hang from the walls. Bright strings of Christmas lights are arrayed throughout and the sound system plays an eclectic blend of music, ranging from the 1930s to present day Top 10.
In one corner, Mickey the Moose hangs from the wall. Mickey is a huge stuffed moose head and makes you realize what it would be like to encounter one of these beasts in the wild, something that happens to residents of a large city like Anchorage all the time. In another nook some beautifully polished caribou antlers are displayed. Everywhere you look there is something reminiscent of the state of Alaska.
You begin to believe that one of those stories about the Dennis couple just might be the real thing but Pamela Dennis says no. “When we came down from Anchorage in 1988, the economy had failed up there. Banks closed. Everyone was leaving town. It was a true depression,” Dennis said. “People often ask how we got here but if I wrote the truth, I’d probably make everyone miserable. We had two little kids and needed to make a new plan. We love it here and the best part – no snow!”
Pizza, salad, burgers and sandwiches
When you enter, you place your order and receive a basket of peanuts to take your table. Maybe you also choose a dinner salad and a beverage. You enjoy shelling the peanuts and throwing the remnants on the floor while the kitchen staff rolls out the dough for your pizza.
Whether you order a large 16-inch or a mini, the pizza is made from scratch with their homemade dough, a combination of white and whole wheat flour. Toppings include pepperoni, sausage, bell pepper, mushrooms, black olives, onions, real Alaskan reindeer sausage…and you have your choice of red sauce or garlic sauce. Pamela says the Chicken Cordon Bleu and the Buffalo Style chicken pizzas are very popular.
Pizza isn’t the only thing on the Klondike menu. There are a variety of burgers with appropriate names such as Yukon Jack (Canadian-style bacon and, of course, Jack cheese) or perhaps you’ll want to try a Cheechako (this term means ‘greenhorn,’ folks new to Alaska) with a choice of Swiss, Cheddar of Jack cheese.
There are also chicken dishes, including grilled chicken breast on a warm French roll with mayonnaise, or Chicken Cordon Bleu with ranch dressing, Canadian bacon, and Swiss cheese. There is a teriyaki and barbecue chicken, and for those wishing they were in the Hawaiian Islands, Hula Chicken with pineapple.
To round it out, the menu has grilled sandwiches of Alaskan reindeer sausage, Louisiana hot sausage, or an all-beef hot dog. For those counting calories, there are several delicious salads: a dinner salad, garden salad featuring a variety of veggies, Chef Salad, Semi-Sicilian salad with salami, black olives, red onion rings, tomato and Mozzarella, and the Klondike Salad – served with mandarin oranges, almonds and the Klondike’s special sweet ‘n sour dressing.
Fun times for all
The fun doesn’t stop with the food. There is a room filled with video arcade machines sure to delight children of all ages. Each Monday there is an Open Mic night from 7-9 p.m. it’s family-friendly, so bring the kids!
Come around for the Tuesday Night Chowdown for All-you-Can-Eat from 5-9 p.m. The Klondike will stuff you with a delicious variety of pizzas – offered by the slice at your table, plus salad and garlic bread.
Before you leave be sure to look in the glassed-in display case to see the Arctic Trout, the only furry trout in the world, and it could only come from Alaska! And be sure to spend a few minutes watching part of the epic 2-hour movie that Pamela made about Alaska.
As you can tell, time at Klondike Pizza means you are going to have a lot of fun as well as delicious food. And maybe you can get someone to tell you the real, factual, actual story of how this all got started. “I am forever being told how romantic the way Mike and I met was,” Pamela said, “doesn’t matter which story.” Maybe it is best for it to remain a mystery.
Klondike Pizza is located at 104 Bridge Street in Arroyo Grande. They have a second location at 2059 S. Broadway in Santa Maria. They can be reached be phone at (805) 481-5228 (Arroyo Grande) or (805) 348-3667 (Santa Maria). Check out their website at klondikepizza.com where you’ll find even more “true” stories, along with goofy radio commercials and the full Klondike menu.
– Ruth Ann Angus