I don't know the science or philosophy behind a buffet. I don't know why my dad goes to Las Vegas and spends the majority of his trip trying to optimize time in front of a buffet. I'm not sure how a business makes money off a buffet. But I do know that during my time at Spirit Lounge's Pizza Buffet, held every Sunday from noon to 4pm in Lawrenceville, I kept saying "This is the best $11 I've ever spent."
I'd look up from my tray, which at times held between one to four slices of pizza, and say "Can you believe this is only $11?"
If you were patient and timed your buffet visits as new pizza was brought out from the back, you could eat two boxes of Slice Island pizza in an hour's time.
Is the end game to introduce new folks to Slice Island pizza? Or make money off of drinks? Pizza is a loss leader, but when it's high quality pizza you have to wonder if anyone is losing out.
THE PIZZA BUFFET
Spirit Lounge is a mix of old ideas with a modern spin. Their building is an old Elk's lodge, with a similar ambience, but it's home to dance parties that end by 10pm, political rallies and some of the best pizza in Pittsburgh thanks to Slice Island in the back.
They've extended this updated thinking to the buffet. Their Sunday Pizza Buffet embodies every trope from your buffet youth; you'll find plastic trays, a DIY salad area, a smattering of "appetizers" like scones, gravy, sausages, french toast sticks, and of course pizza. Unlike the out-of-place pizza at a Chinese buffet, these slices are the marquee dish.
Here's a hot pizza buffet tip: grab a fresh tray, skip everything before the pizza and try to pile as much pizza onto your tray as you can before feeling embarrassed. Here's why:
- The pizza is the name of the game. It's the gem of the buffet. It's highly coveted and we all know that we're there for those rectangular slices. Plus, they pair nicely with a brunch coffee or a bloody mary.
- It goes fast. Once 12:45 hit the buffet was at max capacity and the kitchen could barely keep up with pizza demand. I don't know how sustainable it is, but anytime a new tray of pizza was brought out there were already vultures hovering around the heat lamps. This pizza was dead on arrival.
- There are typically three varieties of pizza waiting for you at the end of the pizza buffet. To quell any regret from the previous night and to ensure your Sunday gets off on the right foot, you'll need to eat one of each.
The Best Thing to Happen to Pizza Buffets Since Pizza Hut
I rarely visit pizza buffets, mostly because I prefer my pizza fresh from the oven. In my youth I'd beg for the Pizza Hut buffet and more recently I visited a Pizza Roma buffet that could easily be mistaken for a living wake. Who's wake (mine or the pizza) I'm not sure, but it was sad.
Since demand is high, the pizza turnover is efficient. You don't have to worry about getting a lukewarm slice of pizza. It's the highest quality buffet pizza I've had, and more than worth the price of admission (which I still can't believe it's $11).
The only thing missing was the weird experimental pizzas. An odd-ball pizza like buffalo chicken, hamburger pie, taco slices, are more than at home at a buffet. At least they can try to replicate the bizarre dessert pizzas that the Pizza Hut buffet is famous for.
I won't rest until there's a dessert pizza at the end of the Spirit Lounge Pizza Buffet.
The Spirit lounge Pizza Buffet is a row of excellence. From start to finish it's endlessly satisfying and tests your restraint as much as it pleases your palate.