By Taylor Rexrode
Amid all the fast food chains on Valley Mills Drive lies one of Waco’s most popular family-owned restaurants, Poppa Rollo’s Pizza.
This unique pizzeria has served the Waco community since Roland Duty opened it in 1969. The award-winning restaurant moved to its current location in 1979 and continues to boast the title “best pizza on Earth.”
As a Baylor student and self-proclaimed “foodie,” I had to visit this Waco legend.
My first visit to Poppa Rollo’s Pizza was on an exceptionally busy Friday night. The waiting line pushed out the door and onto the sidewalk. It was one of the longest waits I have ever endured.
However, when I stepped inside the doorway, my eyes scanned the walls, which were spattered with Baylor paraphernalia, collectible Dr Pepper and Coca Cola signs and bits of Waco history.
Every little detail piqued my interest and made the restaurant more like a home. Needless to say, I found our long wait a little more bearable since the surroundings kept me entertained.
We were seated in a small booth in a corner of the restaurant near the kitchen. Classic cartoons like Tom and Jerry played on the television behind me.
Stained glass windows converted into ceiling lights cast a warm glow on the families below. A giant fork and spoon stood like strong pillars holding up a second story above us.
Our waitress was kind but distracted by the busy atmosphere. My group of friends chose a safe option — a four-meat specialty pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, hamburger and Canadian bacon. The pie took a while to cook but the homemade pizza loaded with fresh ingredients was well worth the wait.
A month or so passed and I wanted to visit Poppa Rollo’s again. I finally returned a second time on a Wednesday evening. As expected, there was no wait. My friends and I were seated in the same place near the kitchen, which is now unofficially our Poppa Rollo’s booth.
This time, we ordered the Rollo’s Special pizza with bell peppers, pepperoni, hamburger, sausage and jalapenos.
Like the meal from our first visit, the pizza overflowed with fresh toppings, leaving plenty of little sausage and hamburger bites to nibble.
The bell peppers were deliciously bright green and fresh, a pleasant surprise for me, since I am a meat-and-cheese pizza kind of person.
However, I was disappointed with the jalapenos that were shriveled and lacked flavor compared to the other pizza toppings.
Both pizzas I tasted at Poppa Rollo’s were delicious and cost less than $10 per person. It’s nice to know that Poppa Rollo’s doesn’t change their standards whether it’s a calm Wednesday night or a bustling Friday crowd, and I respect their attention to detail.
Aside from its delicious pizza, Poppa Rollo’s is well known for having a fun atmosphere for all ages. The restaurant contains a large arcade room for kids and a secret door that leads to a sports bar area for adults. It frequently hosts parties and events for every occasion.
Poppa Rollo’s is open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. on weekends.