Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pizza, Oysters & Opera


WHEN? Saturday · July 26

WHERE? Gulf Shores, Alabama · find us on the map

WHY? After watching this morning's American Eats episode about the history of pizza, can you blame us?

Papa-Rocco's high-profile location on Highway 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway) at 6th Avenue is just a quarter mile from the Gulf of Mexico. Founder Bill “Papa” McGinnes settled down in Lower Alabama in the 1980s, after leaving his engineering job in a Detroit auto factory. By the time its unusual slogan was dreamed up several years later, Papa-Rocco's was popular with both locals and tourists for its live entertainment and full menu until midnight.

In spite of its small size, Papa-Rocco's devotes floorspace to local entertainment seven nights a week. Gulf Coast musician Brent Burns is a customer favorite and the restaurant's longest running act. Along with Papa, Brent is a local legend himself. Several of his songs are included with the 2008 Alabama Gulf Coast Vacation Guide. All three were obviously written with the Redneck Riviera in mind, and they're right up our alley:

· Down In Paradise
· Livin' The Life (that Jimmy Buffett only wrote about), and
· Perpetual Vacation, which includes a line that pretty much describes us: I'm growing old, but I refuse to grow up.

Another reason customers return to Papa-Rocco's: Reasonable prices, particularly for its lunch and dinner specials. Although take-out menus weren't available, everything's covered on their website:

Papa Rocco's - Home of Warm Beer and Lousy Pizza

We had the good fortune to be seated at a table next to a Mississippi couple and their charming 4-year-old daughter. They'd chosen Papa-Rocco's for their last supper before embarking on the 300-mile return trip to Maben. When both of our pizzas arrived around the same time, we all dug in.

Wondering where the opera comes in?
Papa is an active supporter of the Pensacola Opera and travels to New York City each year to indulge his passion at the Metropolitan.

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