Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Organ Stop Pizza - Official Review

[If you're new to my pizza reviews, 1 Crying Lucky is bad, 5 Crying Luckies is good. Sorry for the lack of photos, my camera couldn't handle the dim light. ]

Organ Stop Pizza (some photos here)
1149 East Southern Avenue
Mesa, AZ 85204
(480) 813-5700

Executive Summary: Chuck E. Cheese for the Senior Set

Having house guests somehow always results in Lady Luck and I doing things that we've been meaning to do, but haven't actually done. We've been meaning to go to Organ Stop Pizza for, oh, three years now.

There are many reasons why we hadn't gone already, but a big one was that they're only open for dinner. Another one is that there is usually a line of festive retirees out the door.

Organ Stop Pizza's claim to fame is their Mighty Wurlitzer organ. It is, indeed, mighty. The restaurant is entirely dominated by the organ, in fact. It is curious, then, how hard it is to find a good seat where you can really see the entire organ. The restaurant has two levels: a main floor, and a balcony. We sat in the balcony, as the main floor was overflowing with people who seemed a little too serious and annoyed to really enjoy a Mighty Wurlitzer performance.

I think the key to getting a good seat on the main floor is by magically timing your arrival between performances.

We didn't stay for an entire performance because:

1. People rose for "Proud to Be an American." Folks, the national anthem is "The Star Spangled Banner." Would you rise for "America, Fuck Yeah!"? Do you stand for Chevy commercials?

2. Pops is well and good, but an organ that size is meant for Bach. The pipe organ was not invented to make you feel warm and fuzzy. Ok, so it's a theater organ. Fine. Play some pops, show off all the bells and whistles of the organ, but let the staff of highly-trained organists bust out their classical chops too. I guarantee none of them spent their lives learning a complicated instrument so they could play "The Entertainer" six times per night.

3. We were stuck next to a table of teens heckling the organist.

I am something of a pipe organ nerd. I love the darn things, so I was excited to see the inner workings of the organ were all on display. The back wall of the restaurant has a couple ranks of giant bass pipes that you can walk right up to and touch, if you're so inclined.

Moving on, the way Organ Stop Pizza works is as follows: you go in and order your pizza and anything else you want. You get a number. You go pick a table. You marvel at the organ. Your number comes up on a board and you go pick up your order and take it to your table. You marvel at the organ some more because the food sure isn't impressive.

Oops, did I say that?

The pizza is 100% pizza-like. We had the mozzarella sticks and fried mushrooms as well. They were terrible. In comparison, the pizza was awesome.

The pizza was "good enough." It's better than Domino's or Pizza Hut, at least. I wouldn't tell anyone to go for the food. I would, however, recommend going to check out the organ, because it's pretty neat. I've heard that they do play good music sometimes, so perhaps the organist just got a lot of crummy requests on the night we went.

The Mighty Wurlitzer really is impressive, so it was worth going for that.

Organ Stop Pizza is located in the middle of Mesa, Arizona, so the ride to get there isn't very interesting. On this trip, the journey was spiced up as Lady Luck and I both had passengers. As I said in a prior post, having someone else's kid on the back of your scoot makes for a hair-raising ride.

Anyway, I give this place 3 Crying Luckies. The food is unremarkable, but the Mighty Wurlitzer makes the trip worthwhile. Also, it's great place to watch people, as there are plenty of retirees, birthday parties, dorks like me, and other interesting people to see.


gael_cee said...

I wonder if they moved that organ from Denver? We had a place just like that and we would go just to check out that big ass pipe organ. Food, same.

Wolfie said...

We had a place like that in Houston when I was a kid: Pipe Organ Pizza. I used to request the "Star Wars" theme.

Lucky said...

gael_cee - They did move the organ from Denver. According to their site, they moved it in the early 70's.

wolfie - You wouldn't believe what he played while we were there...

The best Star Wars rendition I've ever heard was played on bagpipes, at an Irish pub in St. Paul where I was drinking with a couple of disreputable academics.