Eugene has a unique pizza establishment, called the Pizza Research Institute. I've heard murmerings around town about how good it is, that it is considered "Northwestern artisian pizza," that it actually enjoys it's own cult following of Eugenians, and now after having been there, I believe it. They won second place for best pizza this year. It's a small place, with sort of a warehouse, blackmarket feel to it. There are only a few tables inside, and they take advantage of an open-air atmosphere with tables outside whenever the weather permits it. The guy behind the counter had tattoos up and down both arms as well as his neck, though this is not that unusual in Eugene and I feel it adds to the flair of the population that makes up my town. The service was prompt and friendly as we chose our pizza by the pie (or the slice, if you'd like) from the unique offerings written on a small chalkboard next to the counter... obviously the reason for the name of the place has to do with the various combinations of toppings they provide. One in particular sounded appealing, and unlike anything I had ever tried before: gouda, apple and walnut pizza. The dough is made fresh daily, and most everything is organic. They also offered soups, salads, vegan options and home-brewed rootbeer and hemp cola (I'm going to have to try these next time).
After ordering, we situated ourselves at a table and perused the sauces for adding pizzazz to pizza. This was not just your normal grated parmesan and red chili peppers - they offered everything from olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, salad dressings, hot peppers, hot sauce, salt and pepper, spice mixes and more. Loving Boyfriend grabbed an assortment (my favorite was the balsalmic), and we waited patiently for our pizza. PRI is open only Tuesday through Saturday every week from 5:30pm until 9:30-ish. Several other patrons crowded in the tiny restaurant and it was clear many of them had been here before and knew their favorite combinations, or had come just to try the new ones.
After a short wait, our pizza arrived. It smelled marvelous. The crust was crispy and tasty with a subtle hint of herbs in it, and the combination was perfect. The thin slices of fuji apple were still slightly crisp, the toasted walnuts added a nutty but soft crunch. You could still see the slices of smoked gouda laid on top of the mixture, along with a bit of mozzarella, and under that, a thin layer of pesto and some kind of spices sprinkled lightly on top. It was delicious. I would definitely go back...but now I want to go back to take notes on their other combinations, because I'm going to have to try this one at home next time!
1328 Lawrence Street
Eugene, OR 97403