When a restaurant that has been around for over 80 years doesn’t have a web site, it is probably because it doesn’t need to. Varsity Pizza fits that description. It has been a popular spot for inexpensive food for many decades, and just about everyone has been there, or at least knows about it. Locals are just as common and welcome as SU students. Seating is “cafeteria style,” with long tables in the center, and some booths along the side. The menu includes basic inexpensive pizza and campus diner essentials.
This is the third of my visits to the “big three” of the Marshall Street area pizza shops – Acropolis, Cosmos and Varsity. Each restaurant features a pretty good variety of inexpensive food, has been around for decades, and each has a strong, unique personality. You won’t go seriously wrong eating at any of these restaurants, but their pizza is NOT created equal.
My cheese slice at Varsity was a 1/8th cut from a 16″ shallow pan baked pie. As with most pan baked pizza, this was a medium thickness crust with a mottled browning pattern, was slightly oily, and soft, floppy and chewy. Only the bottom was significantly browned – the crust rim was fairly white. The sauce had more of a cooked flavor than fresh, was rather sparse, had some visible spice flakes, and a mild spice load. Cheese was basically good, with a little oil separation and oranginess from the sauce.
Overall, my impression of this pizza was only average. There was nothing distinctively good, and nothing terribly bad. Comparing this to Acropolis, which is also baked on a shallow pan and appears very similar at first glance, Acropolis has the edge because the sauce tastes fresher and is more plentiful, and the crust has better breadlike flavor. Acropolis also has more cheese than Varsity, which is a plus or minus depending on your preference. Cosmos is a completely different animal than Acropolis or Varsity, with a thin crispy crust and spicier than average sauce.
It is tough to choose a “winner” from the big three, because I found Cosmos and Acropolis equally appealing, and equally affordable. Either one should do a good job of satisfying your pizza craving; they compare very favorably with other 4 slice rated pizza on this blog. On the other hand, Varsity’s pizza didn’t fare so well in my taste test, and it scores 3 out of 5 slices.
Summary – Pros: unique ambiance, inexpensive. Cons: oily, orangey cheese; bland sauce.
What do you think? Who makes the best pizza on/near the SU campus? Click the comment link below and let us know.