During our annual beach vacation in the beautiful Florida Panhandle, Mrs. Pie had a need to go to the mall. Since we were staying on the east end of 30A, that meant we would take a trip over to the mega Pier Park outdoor shopping center in Panama City Beach. On the drive over I kept my pizza radar on to see if I could find a joint worthy of a visit.
Riding along the beach road, my eyes spotted a large sign saying “Pizza by the Slice” atop a local-looking joint called Panama Pizzeria. It was fairly close to Pier Park so I dropped Mrs. Pie off and headed back for a quick slice rather than taking my usual nap in the car while she shopped.
I pulled into a spot in front of their narrow free-standing building and was immediately impressed by the parking bumper painted in the colors of the Italian flag. Inside the atmosphere was part bar and part pizza joint. Business activity was brisk with both the tables inside full and the deliveries and pickups heading outside flowing.
Approaching the counter, I spotted two slice pies under glass: a full pepperoni pie on one silver tray and a lone cheese slice on another. At that point I knew that the puny leftover slice was about to be mine.
A young guy (“Pizza Dude”) took my order and subsequently my slice ($2.95) which he plopped into the conventional pizza oven at the far end of the counter. I chose to stand and wait there where I could witness the hustle and bustle of the place. I focused on Pizza Dude who seemed busy but confused. Most of the time he looked unsure about what he should be doing. The one thing he sure wasn’t doing was watching my slice! Pizza Dude was making me nervous.
As time moved on, I had no luck whatsoever in getting Pizza Dude’s attention about my forgotten slice. I figured that he would at least see the lone slice when he was going in and out of the oven, but I had no such luck. Finally some twenty minutes later he somehow remembered my long lost slice. He then made one of the worst decisions in food-serving history and served me this past due slice inside a small pizza box.
Had it not been for this blog, I would have rejected this poor burnt and overcooked slice on the spot. Little did Pizza Dude realize that he had just blown Panama Pizzeria’s chance to get a fair review from the Pizza Snob. Nonetheless, I took it to a table to further examine.
My slice was completely burnt to a crisp and stiff as a board. The cheese was cooked to the point it had shriveled up and was barely traceable. The end crust was so charred that it was inedible. This was murder! I forced myself through enough of it to see if I could find anything redeeming in this pizza fatality.
The tomato sauce seemed to taste fine, and the dimensions looked about right. Underneath this disaster, Panama’s pizza might have been worthy of a better rating. The Snob is forgiving, and maybe next summer this place will get a chance for redemption. I wonder though if Pizza Dude will have found another job by then.
PIZZA SNOB RATING *1/2 Thinking About the Trashcan
17140 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, FL