The legend of the pizza crackers
Pizza Villa’s pizza crackers are a legendary menu item that locals adore and visitors request. Photo by Laura Ashley Lamm / Neuse News
Kinstonians will tell you Pizza Villa’s pizza crackers are the crux of a good meal out on the town. They’re at the heart of a celebration. After T-ball games and dance recitals, before cotillion and high school football games, date night, birthday parties and more, you’ve found some way to gather those you know, sit around the table and share a basket of pizza crackers.
Never heard of these? Well then, let’s get you educated on one of Kinston’s best kept secrets.
Eat these weekly? Well then, let’s tell you the tale of how they came to be.
It all started when the late Homer Lanier and his wife Loretta, along with a cousin, T.C., opened the doors of Pizza Villa in January of 1973. In the early years, Homer developed his own dough recipe when the restaurant was originally located behind Vernon Park Mall and the idea of a quick snack was born.
Homer and Loretta’s sons, Timmy and Dwain, keep the business running and the food cooking these days.
Don’t confuse pizza crackers as some version of a Triscuit, a Nab or a potato chip. They are none of the above. It is pizza dough cooked, cut and made into a “cracker.”
You won’t find this dough anywhere else, which is half the reason the crackers are so good. Once the dough has been created, the dough is rolled and flattened into a medium-sized pan, sprinkled with salt and cooked 2-3 minutes in the oven. Depending on how crispy, fluffy, and cooked you want the crackers, more time is added.
“Everyone has their preference,” Timmy said. “People love them and some days we can’t keep up with the demand fast enough.”
There’s no need to count the carbs in the crackers, because when something is this good, you don’t care about the calorie count. You just care that you have enough dressing.
(Two containers per order, please.)
There are three types of sauces for dipping that may fancy your taste buds: ranch dressing, pizza or spaghetti sauces. But let’s be honest, locals are slurping up the ranch dressing like its soup. In fact, Pizza Villa makes 2,808 gallons of ranch dressing a year which totals to around 9 gallons a day.
Sneak into the kitchen and you’ll hear a waitress yell “pizza crackers” every few minutes. The kitchen staff quit counting how many they made a day when the numbers rose as high as the hundreds.
If you’ve never tried them, then these need to make your Kinston culinary bucket list.
Believe it or not, these pizza crackers were originally made and tossed on the corner of the salad bar when the restaurant first opened — and they were free.
“I used to grab a paper bag full of these crackers and carry them to the beach for my friends and I to nibble on — back in the day,” Timmy said. “We’ve kept the recipe the same all these years.”
He added, “Honestly, it’s a weird item on the menu. People want them and you can’t get them anywhere else.”
Its weirdness makes it stand out. Its tastiness makes the people keep coming back for more.