Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Before stepping into Canyon Crust, a new restaurant in the Canyon Crest Town Center, I was greeted by a small outdoor seating area. Inside, the small dining area glows orange with dimly lit overhanging lights. Alternative music can be heard above the soft chatter of the customers.

After quickly skimming the menu, I noticed that pizza by the slice wasn’t an option. I asked the cashier who explained that all their pizzas were 10 inches, the size of a personal sized pizza. The pizzas range in price from $12-13. Flat bread paninis were another option and also less pricier at $8. Starters like French fries, wings, salads and a kids menu consisting of grilled cheese and mini corn dogs are also available. The menu seemed to have something for everyone, including those with gluten allergies. Whole wheat or gluten free dough was an option for an extra $1.49.

Canyon Crust definitely isn’t your ordinary pizza hut. The choices included white pizza, carne asada , BBQ chicken, thai chicken, shrimp scampi, california club, and lemon pesto just to name a few. I chose to go with the chicken florentine and the fresh tomato, basil and garlic pizza.

The chicken florentine consists of alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, spinach, red onions, walnuts, mozzarella and fontina cheese. The fresh tomato, basil and garlic pizza consists of fresh sliced roma tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh garlic and basil topping. The cashier said this was the closest alternative to the traditional Margherita pizza.

I continued to scope out the restaurant and noticed a fancy soda fountain station. It was a fun Coca-Cola machine that had 106 flavor options to choose from. While I waited for my pizza at a table, I relaxed in the dim lighting and with music playing. During my whole visit I heard great artists like The Killers, Feist, Grizzly Bear, Arctic Monkeys, Band of Horses and The XX.

When my pizza finally arrived, it was brought out in cardboard boxes (plates are available upon request). I tried a slice of the chicken florentine first. The slices are smaller than regular sized slices, considering that customers are basically getting an individually sized pizza.

Unfortunately, I did not taste the alfredo sauce. The fontina cheese had the strongest punch and it left a really dry aftertaste. In my next few bites, I encountered the walnuts. I had never tried walnuts on pizza and this combo was not appealing to me at all. The dry, crunchy taste of the walnuts did not mix well with the pungent taste of the cheese. The dough was nothing special, except for the fact that it was toastier than most which gave the pizza a crisper taste. I was not satisfied with the chicken florentine, mainly because of the walnuts and lack of flavor richness expected from alfredo sauce.

I decided to move on and try the fresh tomato, basil and garlic pizza. Upon the first bite, the roma tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil combined together to make a fresh, tangy taste. Right away, I was reminded of a margherita pizza, just as the cashier had suggested. The taste was generally creamy because of the mozzarella cheese, but this element wasn’t too strong. I was satisfied. Although the margherita pizza traditionally has a thinner crust and less cheese, the resemblance was close. My taste buds were buzzing as I devoured each bite to the last.

Canyon Crust specializes in specialty pizza and has a relaxed and welcoming environment. The prices are a little steep, especially for students looking to get the most for their money. Don’t walk in expecting to see a Pizza Hut menu and serving size. Although their specialty pizzas vary, customers can also build your own which may be the best option if you are looking for something simpler. There is something for everyone to try, which is great especially when eating out in a group setting.