“Employee entrance only – Carla’s Kitchen” says the sign on the back door. Online references state that this is the former home of a place called “Grants Cafe”. But now, it’s all about “Sunset Family Pizza.” Is that a family named “Sunset?” Or an indication that the restaurant is “family friendly?” I didn’t care enough to ask, when I was zipping thru Gold Beach on a late night return from a biz meeting in Crescent City, California, a town so dreary, it doesn’t deserve more than this single sentence from me.
My cuisine preference for that drive was burgers, at first, but I had drilled down a couple communities and come up empty…. not even the meanest, baddest, maximum security prison in the nation, Pelican Bay, didn’t have anything to offer as I scooted by – I was hoping for at least a brief stop at a prison gift shop.
It was too damned cold on the coast to wander any urban areas by foot, so my choices were limited to whatever signs my one good eye caught at 50 mph …. I probably wouldn’t have noticed Sunset Family if there hadn’t been a man outside stringing white twinkly lights on the front porch.
I have a very low threshold of patience when it comes to stopping, and Sunset almost stymied me with their tricky, back alley entrance to the parking lot. Apparently the city fathers didn’t want US 101 drivers entering and exiting the establishment from the highway (front) side.
Encouraged by the sign posted facing the parking lot, which offered “FRESH”pizza (as opposed to?), I meandered in and perused the menu of the mostly (Easter weekend) empty establishment, with its delicious aromas coming from the large kitchen window directly behind the register. A nearly empty cooler of drinks gave me a clue to its newness, but complete apathy prevented me from asking questions about when they had landed.
I was dressed in my business outfit, and after ordering the large “all meat pie” (which included mushrooms and black olives, for some reason), I ducked into the little boy’s room to change into my “driving/pizza eating” outfit, which was comprised of jeans and my genuine “George Webb – Famous Hamburgers” hoodie. This thoroughly confused the counter girl, as upon exiting the loo, she asked if she could take my order. (I had evolved from Superman to Clark Kent!). I spent the balance of my waiting time pressed up against one of the two, free-standing fireplaces in the room.
The pie was up shortly, and I scrambled to the car to continue my drive homeward, and dive into my “za”, armed with a boatload of napkins, and a couple of Coke Zeros.
The menu crows about “dough made fresh daily”, and it showed. Although the crust was thicker than my usual preference, it passed the test of being crispy and chewy at the same time. The crush holds the toppings well, has a minimum of “hang” and in general, the pie, cheese and toppings hold together well during the consuming part of the experience.
Cheese was real, ample, and nicely stretchy.
The pie was amply packed with meat toppings, including large-size paper thin pepperoni slices, and a delightfully smoky linguicia (sic) (portugese sausage wiki reference). The menu touted other meat toppings as sausage and ground beef, which were crumbled and indistinguishable from each other, but certainly not objectionable. I had skipped the mushroom offering, but included the black olives, which were thinly sliced and far more flavorful than the standard Lindsay’s one is used to finding on pizza.
The sauce leans towards the sweeter variety, again, not my first preference, but again, not overpowering enough to turn me against the pie. Herb usage was moderate and added to the overall experience.
My true test, like many people, is how good the pie is the next morning, and Sunset Family passes that test with flying colors.
Sunset makes a good pie. Not worth driving hundreds of miles out of your way, but if you find yourself in Gold Beach, it’s certainly worthy of including as a meal. If I lived there, I’d be at least a semi-regular.
Pix below of pizza (only) menu, tho the joint offers additional food like sandwiches, pastas, salads and appetizers; exterior; and the pie itself.