I’m staying right down the street, so I stopped by the River Rock Roasting Co. and Bakery after a day on the road, looking forward to some comfort food and pizza sounded like just the thing.
The restaurant is on State Street in La Verkin, right in the path of travelers heading to Zion. Because of this, the parking lot is always full. With the sandwich board outside advertising “Pizza and Beer,” it’s no wonder. I assume the majority of visitors are one-timers like myself who stop as they drive past.
It’s a rustic-looking wood, house-shaped building sitting alongside the edge of a basalt canyon, carved deep by the Virgin River. Indeed, the best part about this restaurant is the view.
It was slow when I walked in mid-afternoon. I quickly found a parking spot and walked right in behind a couple standing at the cash register. This is the type of restaurant with the menu on a wall behind the counter. You place your food order at the register.
After the couple departed, I was the only person in line and the cashier decided that was the best time to change the paper in her register. I waited. Once she was done, the phone rang. “Do you mind?” she asked. I shrugged and she preceded to have a lengthy conversation with someone on the phone placing an order.
There are a variety of sandwiches for both breakfast and lunch, pizzas and salads on the menu. They have what they say are homemade baked goods, but there wasn’t much available when I was there. They sell coffee beans and various T-shirts, mugs and other items, but you’ll have to inquire about the beans, as I didn’t see any.
I ordered the House Salad with spinach and romaine lettuce, croutons, carrots, grape tomato and cucumber. I added their house-made Ranch dressing. I also ordered the Beetza Pizza with beet pesto, caramelized onions and goat cheese topped with piles of arugula, roasted pistachios and balsamic reduction. The pizza only comes in one 12-inch size.
Given my table number, I headed outside to the patio seating. There are also a few tables indoors and despite the great view outdoors, that may have been a better option for two reasons. One: the outdoor tables were made of metal, which hurt to touch in the 100+ degree weather and full sun. Two: the wind was so strong it blew the lettuce off my salad and the top of my pizza.
The food was delivered promptly, salad first. It was a big salad with fresh greens aplenty. It was otherwise standard fair and the Ranch dressing was thin and flavorless.
The Beetza Pizza came out in short order. I was surprised to see that it was piled with so much arugula that I could barely see the pizza below. However, when I picked up a slice, all of the arugula, pistachios and balsamic reduction fell off. This left me with the crust, beet pesto and goat cheese.
The crust was average and soft, not too chewy, but there was too little pesto and very little goat cheese, making it a relatively dry meal.
After two small slices, I went in search of a pizza box to take it home. After waiting a few minutes while the staff rushed past, I cornered a busboy and he commandeered someone else to get me a box. When I went back outside to pack up my food, the same busboy was already clearing my table. He’d dumped my salad on top of my leftover pizza. I probably wouldn’t have eaten it anyway.
Find River Rock Roasting Co. and Bakery at 394 S State St. La Verkin, Utah or call (435) 635-7625.