Pizza and Beer, OP-style
Homebrew is good in the glass and in the dough
14 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park
Caron Streibich covers dining out throughout Northeast Florida. If you have information about new restaurant openings, menu changes or other food-related news, contact her here. Streibich is also the host of our regular Folio Weekly Bite Club gatherings. Follow the Bite Club on Facebook or Twitter to learn more about it.
There’s good pizza, and there’s bad pizza. Brewer’s Pizza is a gem, tucked away just off I-10 in Orange Park. Home of the Florida Smacker, a “Lip-smack’n Southern style pizza,” it's Brewer’s signature 8-inch square, deep-dish pizza with melted cheese that extends to the crispy edges of the beer-dough crust. Dipped in ranch or a side of marinara, it's a pizza-lover’s dream and some of Northeast Florida’s best. The corners are crunchy, but the center of the crust is light and chewy.
If you’re not in the mood for a deep-dish pizza, opt for the hand-tossed pizza. Both are excellent. Regular topping choices include green peppers, banana peppers, pepperoncini, jalapeños, mushrooms, black or green olives, tomatoes, white or red onions, pepperoni, ham, bacon, Italian sausage, ground sirloin, mozzarella, garlic and pineapple. Specialty toppings are gyro meat, meatball, chicken, ricotta, Romano, feta and cheddar.
Can’t decide? Remove the guesswork and order one of Brewer’s specialty pies. Available in Florida Smacker style or round, there’s Buffalo Chicken (mozzarella, chicken, bacon, green pepper and buffalo sauce), Swamp Chicken (mozzarella, homemade swamp sauce — not pizza sauce — plus gator tail, chicken, tomato and Cajun crust), and the clever Seafaring Pig (mozzarella, homemade seafood sauce, shrimp, crab, bacon, mushroom, tomato and chives).
In addition to salads, soup and a calzone, there are several Boar’s Head sandwiches available on Mamaw’s 8-inch toasted sub roll or a wrap — with Brewer’s world-famous Pinglehead sandwich spread.
We also ordered Guido Spoonpipe’s wings — available in plain, BBQ, sweet BBQ, mild and hot — which are lightly breaded and brushed with buffalo sauce then baked in a pizza convection oven, instead of being fried. We ordered them mild, and a pile of 10 plump wings arrived accompanied by a cup of tangy ranch dressing.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, Brewer’s is family-friendly and good for groups. It feels like that neighborhood haunt you’ve been going to for years. It’s laid-back and spacious, and the interior is always clean. A colorful jukebox at the center of the restaurant begs to be played. Rows of beer tap handles yearn to be pulled at the bar. Parking is ample. There’s even a seating area outside for grabbing a pre-meal brew.
Scan a QR code on the menu and access the tap list on your smart phone. Several flatscreen TVs there feature scrolling tap lists and descriptions.
The pizza is solid, and the beer selection proves even more solid. Boasting beers from many of Northeast Florida’s breweries — Bold City Brewery, Green Room Brewing and Intuition Ale Works — in addition to its own expansive line of Pinglehead brews, Brewer’s pours Abita, Bell’s, Blue Point Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing, Great Divide, Stone and Swamp Head. On a recent visit, I opted for a beer flight — four individual 4-ounce pours, all from Pinglehead. The Head East, a winter breakfast ale brewed with Bold Bean Coffee Roasters coffee, nutmeg and cinnamon, was one of my favorites. The Landslide, a double India Pale Ale (IPA), citrusy with heavy honey malts, paired well with my Florida Smacker.