Punk rock pizza

Monstros: Stick with the slices and the music

CASH ONLY<br>Owner Greg Danielewiez rings up a fat slice on a vintage cash register.

Owner Greg Danielewiez rings up a fat slice on a vintage cash register.

Photo By Josh Graham

Monstros Pizza
628 W. Sacramento Ave.
Closed Sunday and Monday
Phone: 345-7672

Monstros Pizza & Subs

628 W. Sacramento Ave.
Chico, CA 95926

(530) 345-7672

Monstros Pizza offers something very necessary in a community dominated by students. Located next to Tony’s Liquors on West Sacramento Avenue, the longstanding pizzeria—it opened in 1989—is just a stone’s throw from Chico High School and in the heart of Chico State student housing. The whole Monstros experience seems to cater to the younger set that can’t afford or doesn’t particularly crave fine dining.

The sawdust on the floor gives the first clue to the ultra casualness of Monstros’ dining area, which a few years back was a laundromat and now resembles a meeting hall with long, wooden benches and solid booths.

The décor is simple and quirky: lamps that resemble upside-down Devo hats light up walls adorned with a fair collection of vintage pizza boxes. A black-and-white TV chatters in the corner. A towering stack of board games is available to kill some time, as well as vintage pinball machines and classic video games like Ms. Pac Man and Space Invaders.

It’s as if the restaurant has been frozen in an earlier, simpler time. Monstros doesn’t even accept ATM cards. In fact, all sales are rung up on a 1950s-era cash register: “Listen to that satisfying ring,” owner Greg Danielewicz delightedly pointed out as he rang up our order.

We were the only ones in the restaurant, and it appeared that most of the business comes from take-out orders (Monstros does not deliver). It seems the place really comes alive when a rock show is taking place, though.

So maybe I should not have been surprised that my ravioli meal was rough around the edges. Although our server offered me just about every pizza topping available to spice up my salad, the bacon bits and heaping layer of cheese didn’t disguise the soggy, limp lettuce. The garlic bread was too salty to be palatable.

The large bowl of spinach-filled ravioli was a relief when it finally arrived, a bit overdone but covered in a tasty pomodoro sauce made in-house. My friend ordered Monstros’ signature slice called The Breath of Death: a basic pepperoni slice with a thick crust covered with chopped jalapeños and marinated carrots. He said the BoD could have used more garlic (death) but that the spiciness went well with cold Pabst Blue Ribbon.

What Monstros lacks in ambience and variety, it makes up for in giving the underage crowd a place to get relatively inexpensive grub, while those who are old enough can take advantage of the cheap beer. Slices are made to order as well.

Bottles of PBR ($1.50) and Sierra Nevada ($2) draw in the over-21 set while the under-agers can sip their sodas with the rest of the gang. The menu is nothing fancy—just giant slabs of single-slice pizza ($3.50 apiece for pepperoni or cheese), and whole pies ranging from $10.75 (12 inch) to $21.50 for the 20 incher, and just a few dollars more for additional toppings. Monstros also serves up a couple of pasta dishes that take a bit longer to prepare, including ravioli, spaghetti and lasagna ($6.75) that come with salad and garlic bread.

Monstros happens to be one of the most consistent all-ages venues in town, with shows usually keeping on the punk side of the music scene from locals to traveling bands. The concerts held at Monstros are damned fun, usually packed with bopping scenesters and Pyrate Punx of all ages.

Of course, having an energetic live band a few feet away makes the late-night pizza taste really, really good.

Pizza, not pretension, is their business, and the restaurant provides a wholesome place for kids looking for cheap eats and a good time. My tip is to stick to the basic pizza slices, avoid the salad and bread, and head down with a gang of pals no matter what their ages.