An Evansville, Indiana, local recommended we try the Turoni’s pizza, voted best in Indiana. Another local argued that Roca Bar, where the very first Evansville pizza was served, is the best. As a lifelong Chicagoan, I rarely eat pizza out of town. When I do, I’m usually disappointed. It’s rare to find one as good the Chicago pizza I grew up on. However, with such rave reviews of these pizzas, we put them to the test. So we tried both.
Roca Bar has been around since 1943 and began serving pizza ten years later. They say it was the first Evansville pizza every introduced. Hard to believe the city didn’t have pizza before 1953, but apparently no one has contested the claim.
I’m not sure how long Roca Bar’s neon sign has been in front of the business. Judging from the style, it’s been there from the start, or at least long enough to be called nostalgic. Inside, the nondescript decor—plain brown paneling and wood-tone Formica tables—are most likely original, too.
Besides the basics, Roca Bar offers an extensive selection of specialty pizzas, including:
- Taco Pizza: Taco sauce, beef, onions, cheddar blend, lettuce, and tomato
- Roca Fredo: Alfredo sauce, chicken broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and onions
- Chicken Bacon Ranch: Chicken, bacon, and ranch dressing
- Breakfast: Bacon, smoked ham, scrambled egg, cheddar blend, and sausage gravy
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The pizza crust was paper thin, crisp as a cracker. The sauce was on the sweet side, and the sausage has a trace of spice. The cheese was done just right for our tastes, a bit browned and gooey. I was surprised to see the pizza cut into squares, Chicago style, and surprised, too, that it was as good as the super-thin crust Chicago pizzas I’ve had.
Beer options at Roca Bar are popular national brands.
Turoni’s pizza was introduced three decades ago. They boast they’ve been voted best pizza in Indiana, but in researching, I couldn’t find by whom. I did see several individual online reviews, however, claiming that Turoni’s was the best pizza they’d ever had.
The whimsical murals painted on the brick historic Evansville building invite you inside where the Italian country décor, with stenciled grapevines on booth backs, art and fun objects covering the walls, Tiffany-style lamps, and a fireplace, make you feel at home.
Some of the gourmet pizzas that Turoni’s offers are:
- Cousin Hazel’s Famous Meatball: Home-made spicy meatballs, garlic, pizza sauce, onions, green peppers and mozzarella cheese
- Vinny’s Pepper Planet: Pizza sauce with garlic, mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheeses, ham, bacon, mushrooms, mild pepper rings, yellow and red peppers, jalapenos and pepperoncini
- Mexican Fiesta: Salsa, home-made chili topped with mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheeses, red and green peppers, onions, and jalapenos
- Bar-B-Que Chicken: Turoni’s BBQ sauce, chicken, Monterey jack and mozzarella cheeses, red peppers, onions and diced pickles
Turoni’s crust is paper thin like Roca Bar’s, although ours wasn’t crisp all the way through. The sauce had a tang to it, and the sausage was milder than Roca Bar’s. The cheese was done just right for my taste, and Turoni’s pizza was also cut into squares, Chicago style.
Turoni’s is a microbrewery, too, the only microbrewery in Evansville. Five craft beers are always available, with others available seasonally.
Evansville pizza taste test winner
Turoni’s is clearly the ambiance winner. And if you’re looking for handcrafted microbrews, that’s the place to go. The pizza decision was close, though, both similar, both very good. However, when it came to a decision, Roca Bar won by a smidgen, with a crispier crust and sauce and sausage that we both preferred.
What is your favorite?
Which Evansville pizza have you tried? Which is your favorite and why?
Roca Bar is located at 1618 S Kentucky Avenue, Evansville, Indiana. Turoni’s Pizzery and Brewery is located at 408 N Main Street, Evansville, Indiana, and two additional locations. Check their web sites for hours and menus.
We stayed at the Tropicana Evansville during our visit to Evansville. Check rates her.
Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room through the link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.
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