Published March 2014

Pies that Rock

Silly Al’s Pizza Parlour brings a slice of gourmet to Quartzsite

BYA.G. Luke and J.D. Durand
Arizona is generally not synonymous with gourmet pizza, but in Quartzsite, Ariz., — the Rock Capital of the World — a small Sonoran Desert oasis serves up big flavor and iconic pizzas.
 
A more-than-a-century-old saguaro cactus statuesquely dwarfs the austere exterior of Silly Al’s Pizza Parlour. This modest building, on the town’s main drag, boasts a proud tagline: “If you haven’t been to Al’s, you haven’t been to Quartzsite!”
 
Inside you may see Robbie or Karon Robertson, the restaurant’s co-owners since 2005, in the open kitchen hand-tossing dough for their “World Famous Gourmet Pizza.” The homemade marinara sauce, fresh ingredients, and an emphasis on buying local add a special touch.
 
Originally opened by Robbie’s amiable and good-humored (read: silly) father, Albert, in 1987, Robbie and Karon continue his tradition of serving up authentic Italian classics and signature southwest favorites. An amicable atmosphere abounds with locals and tourists intermingling, diners watching the cooks toss pizza dough into the air, and the entertainment of live music and karaoke evenings.

Add Some Pizzazz
For the unconventional pizza fan, Al’s Reuben Pizza is a bold combination of mustard, mozzarella, sauerkraut, pastrami, onions, and cheddar cheese. The South of the Border Pizza brings together all of the best taco ingredients, including corn chips on top. And the Philly Cheese Steak pizza, loaded with roast beef, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, Alfredo Sauce and mozzarella cheese, really lives up to its name. Of course, you’ll find options for meat lovers, vegetarians, and traditionalists, too — not to mention calzones, hot sandwiches, pastas, meatballs, chicken dishes, salads, and Mexican food.

Silly Al’s is also a growler filling station, so bring in a container (32- or 64-ounce) and purchase a growler of draft beer if you take your pizza to go. For a local beer, try Mudshark’s Scorpion Amber Ale, brewed in Lake Havasu City.
 
Order a Side of History
If a growler of draft beer doesn’t quench your thirst for Western history, visit Tyson’s Well Stage Station Museum next door. Once the site of Fort Tyson, this landmark was built in 1866 and served as an important way station on the California-Arizona line providing water and grass for horses. The station was restored and opened as a museum in 1980 by the Quartzsite Historical Society, and now houses a collection of local artifacts and photographs of mining equipment.

Quartzsite is also home to ancient intaglios, petroglyphs, gold mines, wagon trails, and gem shows, so top your visit just like your pizza: with as many additional adventures as your appetite desires.
A. G. LUKE, a travel writer, and J.D. DURAND, a photographer, reside in Ajax, Ontario.
For More Information
Call your local AAA Travel professional at 1-888-870-9392 or visit AAA.com.
If You Go
Silly Al’s
175 W. Main St.
Quartzsite, Ariz.
928-927-5585
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