Ye Olde Pizza Parlor: Shakey's Buffet Offers Myriad Choices

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Growing up in Southern California, I have fond memories from many visits to the Shakey's Pizza Parlor franchise.

The things I remember most are the styrofoam Dixieland-style hats, the ubiquitous use of the words "Ye Olde (fill in the noun of your choice here)" on signs around the parlor and, of course, fantastic pizza.

So our crew was primed for a good time when we set out for a recent weeknight visit to the new Shakey's Pizza Parlor in American Fork -- which opened on April 27 in the Meadows Shopping Center. And we were not disappointed.

Shakey's exudes a fun-time atmosphere from the moment you walk in. The decor makes use of festive colors, especially yellows and reds, that give off an upbeat vibe. On top of that, the large dining room, despite featuring lots of tables, still had a wide-open, uncrowded feeling. There was one giant screen TV in the middle of the room, and five other big screens mounted on various side walls, with each presenting a different show or sporting event (none of which could be heard over the music, however). Additionally, there was a game room in the back that drew the attention of our younger children earlier than we probably hoped.

Shakey's offers its World's Greatest Pizza Buffet all day long. You pay one buffet price at the front register and then help yourself to a bevy of choices involving salads, pastas, pizza and dessert. Some additional items, such as drinks, root beer floats and chicken wings are available at an extra charge.

I knew we were in good luck when our teenage daughter, a notoriously picky eater, strolled up to scan the available pasta items and excitedly exclaimed, "That's what I'm talkin' about!" Indeed, there was much to talk about in the buffet line, with three salads (all already dressed), penne pasta with marinara sauce, macaroni and cheese (with an abundance of cheese melted on top), breadstick portions, Mojos (potato wedges) and about a dozen different pizzas from which to sample a slice.

We were enjoying our first run through the buffet line when a manager stopped by our table to check out our opinions, and to explain some of the parlor's more popular and offbeat pizzas. Among her suggestions were the Mojo Rising and the Mediterranean pizzas. We enthusiastically tried both. The Mojo Rising featured the Mojo potato wedges, along with mozzarella cheese, bacon, sour cream, green onions and sauce. The Mojos gave it a unique texture and a slight kick, and it tasted great.

The Mediterranean was like no other pizza we'd ever tasted. It included feta cheese chunks, red onion, tomato bits, black olives and artichoke hearts with an oil base. This earned a split decision at our table. I loved it, but my wife was not a fan -- thanks mostly to her not really liking artichokes.

One of our other favorites was the Barbecue Chicken Pizza, featuring mozzarella cheese, and chicken with tangy barbecue sauces. It made for a great combination.

Another great thing about Shakey's, as the manager informed us, is you can actually put in a personal request at the buffet line and the staff will make a pizza to your order. So whether you have some especially finicky eaters or are just more adventuresome than that average buffet patron, there should be a pizza perfect for your liking.

We also ordered a side of chicken wings. The wings are all cooked the same, but you can change things up based on what sauces you order (such as ranch, barbecue, and sweet and spicy). We loved both the ranch and barbecue flavors.

The manager noticed we went back to the buffet line for some warm apple crisp and graciously brought over an ice cream ball -- essentially a scoop of ice cream in a plastic bag -- mentioning that it would go great with the dessert. It certainly did.

We also tried some root beer floats -- you just take an ice cream ball and put it in your root beer fountain drink. Delicious! We noticed about 20 helium balloons stuck in the restaurant's rafters and wondered about their origin and purpose. As we were preparing to leave, the manager asked if our young children might want a balloon. She then came out with a couple, one of which promptly slipped through the hand of our 2-year-old and floated out of reach to the ceiling. Mystery solved. The manager brought us another balloon and we were soon on our way, smiles intact, bellies full and with even more fond memories of a night at Shakey's.

Shakey's Pizza Parlor Where: 496 N. 990 West, American Fork Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday Prices: Buffet $3.99 children (ages 3-10), $6.99 adults; chicken wings ($2.99-$12.99); root beer floats (kids $1.99, adults $2.79), soft drinks (kids $.99, adults $1.79) Info: (801) 492-4082, www.shakeys.com

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Shakey's Pizza Restaurant
2200 W. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA

Phone: (626)576-0737

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