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Not As Good As They Used to Be -- BETTER!  Riverton is Lucky to Have Rock Creek Pizza

Restaurant: Rock Creek Pizza Company
Cuisines: Pizza, Salad, Sandwiches
Location: 10255 S. 1300 E., Sandy (Map); 1276 W. 12600 S., Riverton (Map)
Price Range: $2.59–$24.95 (for Dinner for Four)
Grade: B+ — See Foodie Report

I hadn't been to Rock Creek Pizza for years, then they opened a new location in Riverton. I could hardly wait to try it and see if they were as good as I remembered.  They're not — they're better.

Inside, the décor was nice, with nice tables and comfortable booths. A big fireplace is in the center of the main dining room, and a projection screen in the adjoining room, where they had the game on with closed captioning, because they had a mix CD of '80s hits playing overhead. Adding to the fun atmosphere is, as you walk in, a moose head on the wall. It's not real, so don't call the PC police. It's imitation — and it moves.

You order at the counter, pay up front, nothing new. What was, however, was that the employee who worked the register asked if I had any special requests for the pizza buffet. That was certainly nice. So I requested ham, pepperoni and mushroom. Seating was a little limited, not because they were too busy (it was about half-full), but because too many tables needed wiping down. They were busy, but not that busy.

Plating was nothing special. With the buffet, they give you two Styrofoam plates (one for pizza, the other for the salad bar). I wasn't really tickled about the plates. If the pizza is too hot, I eat it with a knife and fork, and have been known to wield my table knife with the exuberance of a Cimmerian barbarian. You help yourself to the beverage bar, and I had to ask for lids, because they weren't stocked. (I've been known to spill like a barbarian, too.)

First words out of my mouth when seeing the buffet: "Wow.  That's a lot variety."

The variety of pizzas on the buffet was surprisingly good. A lot of pizza buffets stick to the basics, wanting customers to buy specialty pizzas individually. That is not the case with Rock Creek. They had a BBQ chicken pizza on the buffet, a Cajun chicken pizza (I thought it was Buffalo chicken without bleu cheese, but I was later corrected). They had a combination on the buffet, as well as a meat lovers (which included Genoa salami — things were just getting better and better). They also had a dessert pizza, with cinnamon and butter, glazed like a sweet roll.

The salad bar was also good. It only had iceberg lettuce, but it had cubed ham, which makes a salad for me. (I'm a carnivore — I admit it freely — so salad without meat on top is just wrong.) There were six salad dressings to choose from, including a dark Sesame Thai that was excellent. The only way to make it better would be to mix in some other greens with the iceberg lettuce, and have real bacon bits.

When the pizza I had requested was done, the employee made a point of telling me, so I wouldn't miss out. (The place was pretty busy, so things vanished off the buffet table pretty quickly.)

The most negative thing about the experience was the tables not being wiped down and not having lids stocked for the drink machine.

On my second visit, I wanted to do something other than the pizza buffet and saw that they have a sandwich menu. This was great because, I have always considered it my personal mission to try every sandwich place I can find.

I decided on the Hero, which is a hot sandwich, with ham, roasted turkey, salami, provolone and cheddar cheeses, on grilled bread with mayo, mustard, lettuce and tomato. The only problem was that, when I asked the girl at the counter how big the sandwich was, she looked like a deer in the headlights, staring at me with her mouth open. I looked around behind the counter to see if anyone else might be able to answer the question. She seemed to take the hint, because she said that she would go ask someone before I had a chance to suggest it. She came out with another gentleman who very pleasantly showed me the loaves of white and wheat bread that I had to choose from.  They were large, with at least 50% more surface area than the sliced breads most people buy at the grocery store, and nearly twice as thick.

I paid at the counter, they gave me a number to put on my table, and my drink cup. The first two booths needed to be wiped down, but the next was OK. I looked around and, in general, the tables were in a better state of clean than the last time I visited. Then the waiting started. And I waited. And waited. Finally, after waiting 22 minutes, I walked up to see if they had forgotten me, but saw that they were working on it right then. (The custom pizza they made for my on the buffet the previous visit had taken less time.)  Better late than never, I guess.

When they brought out the sandwich, it was on a sheet of wax paper in a plastic basket, no garnishing, but there wasn't much room for it: the sandwich pretty much filled it.

First words out of my mouth: "That's perty."

The bread was grilled and was the most even, beautiful golden brown that I've ever seen.

First words out of my mouth on that first bite: "That's really good.  And different."

I was a little skeptical when the veggies had been put on the sandwich before it went on the grill, but my worries were in vain.

The bread was so perfectly grilled that the crust crumbled when you bit into it, and the edges of the meat were a little crispy, giving the salami an added dimension that was almost like bacon. The lettuce, tomato, mayo and mustard kept it from being dry (not to mention the butter used in the grilling) and the bread was thick enough that it was never in danger of becoming doughy or tearing apart while eating. When I was done, I had a little trouble finishing, because it was a meal in itself. And that's a rare thing for me. I definitely had that life-is-good feeling.

Last words when finishing the meal: "Riverton is lucky to have this place."

Most negative thing about the experience — waiting for my food. Foodie Report

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     food·ie (fd)
     noun. Slang.  A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.