When I heard about a pizza happy hour, I knew I had to check it out for myself. I admit that I was skeptical, I mean how good can a $5 pizza really be? I expected mystery meat, moldy cheese, and runny spaghetti sauce on day old bread, ie. Alpo on a plate. But La Grande Orange Pizzeria blew me away! In fact it was one of the best pies that I’ve ever had.
The first thing that I noticed about La Grande Orange was its trendy interior. This place is no roadside diner. It was classy casual. The decor is similar to a hip New York City Italian eatery, and the staff were comfortably dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Our waiter was very pleasant and extremely helpful. We ordered drinks, a happy hour pizza, and dessert, and I was thoroughly impressed from start to finish.
Our waiter brought us an extensive wine list. Normally, when I order pizza, I’m sitting on my sofa at home, watching HBO with a six pack, so I was a bit thrown by a multi-page wine list at a pizza joint. But La Grande Orange has a great concept, because they have their own market attached to the restaurant, where you can pick out a bottle of wine (or ask your server to go grab it for you) and enjoy it with your dinner. Normally, I feel stupid when I order a $7 glass of house wine, knowing darn well that I could get the whole bottle at Safeway for $5.99. La Grande Orange doesn’t rip you off on wine– you only pay retail price for the bottle– what a deal! Although, I loved the wine concept, I was curious about the “Famous Sangria”. It was a delicious white wine, infused with citrus flavor, and garnished with a mountain of orange slices. What else would you expect from a place where the name translates to “The Big Orange”?
Here’s how the pizza happy hour works (9 p.m – close, Monday – Thursday). You get a plain cheese pie for $5, and then you can dress it up for a few extra bucks with goodies like prosciutto di san daniele, black forest ham, pepperoni, fresh arugula, sauteed mushrooms, corn, egg, and garlic. We opted for a pepperoni, garlic, and fresh basil pizza. When the pie came out, it looked amazing, and tasted even better. The crust was light and crispy, the pepperoni was thinly sliced and covered with fresh cheese, and the basil and garlic added a bit of extra flavor. There were no overpowering flavors because everything on this pizza meshed perfectly together.
The pizza was great, and not too filling. When our waiter asked us about dessert, I wasn’t overstuffed and thought that I could push my appetite, but probably shouldn’t. If you ever find yourself in this conundrum at La Grande Orange, push it and get dessert! Not only does this place have a market attached, it also has its own bakery. We asked our waiter about the red velvet cake, and he described it as an “upscale twinkie”. It sounded interesting, so we gave it a whirl. This dessert was no twinkee. It was a little slice of heavenly goodness! The cake was not overly sweet, incredibly moist, and tastefully layered with a light cream cheese frosting. We devoured it like a fat kid downs a Snickers before gym class!
Overall, I was diggin’ La Grande Orange. I know that the Phoenix New Times raves about The Parlor, but in this writer’s opinion, don’t waste your time there– give La Grande Orange a try for a less expensive and tastier pizza.
La Grande Orange Pizzeria
4410 N 40th St
Phoenix, AZ 85018