Tons of history and tons of toppings, that’s what you get when you visit LaBrasca’s Pizza in Columbia.
George LaBrasca and Jack Jackson first opened the legendary pizzeria’s doors in 1966. Brett Wilson, a longtime employee, bought the restaurant from Jackson in 1998 and continues to serve the pizza and cheese salads that have made LaBrasca’s a Columbia icon.
For nearly 50 years it was smooth sailing until Columbia’s historic flood in October of 2015 dumped 14 inches of water inside the restaurant and threatened to close its doors for good. But when the floodwaters subsided, the donations from loyal customers started pouring in.
In all, over $10,000 was raised to keep LaBrasca’s open.
They’re still going strong now in 2018. It was evident when we paid them a visit to Lunch Meet. We walked in to find Brett topping, baking and cutting pizzas like a one-man pizza-making machine.
We kicked off our meal with salads. We ordered both a famous LaBrasca’s Cheese Salad and a regular salad (Jared has a slight cheese allergy). The Cheese Salad was an impressive sight, loaded with ground mozzarella cheese. It was like a miniature Mt. Everest of cheese with a tomato wedge on top. After adding their homemade house dressing and taking the first bite, I was lost in the delicious mountain of cheese and lettuce.
For the main entrée, we ordered the LaBrasca’s Special, aka “everything but anchovies,” and it lives up to its name.
It is special, and it has a lot of EVERYTHING but anchovies (you can add those too if you like them). When the pie arrived at our table, we were blown away by the generous mounds of toppings on the pizza.
Piles of pepperoni, sausage, ham, mushrooms, onions, hamburger, peppers and black olives were all held in place by hot melted cheese. We were also fascinated by the lack (or near lack) of a crust. Brett says that is by design to give folks more of the good stuff to eat with no “pizza bones” left over. It’s a concept that we surely appreciated.
For dessert, we turned to a longtime employee (and Brett’s fiancé) Milly Knuckley. She crafts LaBrasca’s delicious desserts from scratch. We ordered a slice of Oreo cheesecake, which won a second-place ribbon at last year’s State Fair, and a slice of peach cobbler (Jared is from Georgia, so he loves his peaches).
At first glance, we were impressed by the height of each dessert. At first bite, the richness and denseness of the cheesecake rang through with classic Oreo flavor. It is truly deserving of its award recognition. Jared highly approved of the peach cobbler and raved about the fresh peach flavor (that means a lot coming from a Georgia guy).
To wrap things up, the food was fantastic! It’s easy to see why LaBrasca’s pizza, cheese salads, and now desserts are beloved in Columbia and beyond. If you’ve never been to LaBrasca’s, heed Brett’s advice, “do yourself a favor and try it, don’t die not knowing!”