Monday, October 24, 2022

The Brilliance of Clara's Pizza King

While Sega CD Summer is a celebration of video games, baseball, and small-town life, it's also got a soft spot for Clara's Pizza King.

Every kid has their favorite place to eat. A steakhouse. An ice cream shop. A burger joint.

For this kid, that place was (and, well, still is) Clara's Pizza King in Richmond, Indiana.

How much do I love Clara's? The place gets a whole chapter in the book involving Tommy Guggenbiller and his older brother, Craig the Baseball Prodigy.

In my family, Clara's is iconic. Pizza King is kind of an Indiana thing, really. We don't have a signature pizza style like Chicago or New York (as I write this, Pizza Hut continues to make Detroit-style pizza a thing), but Hoosiers have Pizza King.

And Richmond has Clara's.

This box means quality
The place is amazing. It has a double-decker bus where you can sit with your family and eat. You order with a telephone connected directly to your booth. It feels like the place hasn't changed a bit from my heyday in the '90s, and for a place like Clara's, that's a good thing. 

My family spent many birthdays and end-of-the-school-year celebrations at Clara's. I have an uncle who lives in Tennessee and drops by the place every time he visits. 

Pizza King is famous for thin crust pizza cut into squares. When the "real" Craig the Baseball Prodigy and the "real" Tommy Guggenbiller (my brother and I, respectively) were in our middle school/high school/college days, we'd split a 16" pepperoni pizza with BBQ sauce and an order of breadsticks with two cheeses. 

We can't do that anymore (and probably shouldn't anyway). In the book, the fictional brothers order the exact same thing. Pick a side, find the "pizza equator," and chow down until it's all gone.

Many fans will tell you to get the Royal Feast. That's Pizza King's signature "everything but the kitchen sink" pizza, but I'm a simple man with simple tastes who doesn't understand why anyone would put a topping other than pepperoni on their pizza. Pizza King uses diced pepperoni.

While Pizza King definitely has a good pizza sauce, you should just forget it exists. Order the BBQ sauce. There are few better foods in this world than a Clara's pepperoni pizza with BBQ sauce. Just thinking about it gives me a Pavlovian response.

If you're going to a pizza place, order the pizza. Don't be like my dad and order the Beef Boat. Also, if you do order the Beef Boat, please don't call it the "Beef Barge."

You can check out Pizza King's menu here. There are also some non-Indiana locations operating under the Sir Pizza name.