The moment you arrive in St. Joseph, locals ask if you’ve been to Silver Beach Pizza, and if you’ve had a schooner. It’s a rite of passage in this beach town.
Eating at Silver Beach Pizza is such a rite of passage in this beach community that I immediately added it to my area dining guide. The pizza is moderately priced, the restaurant has an extensive beer selection and a well-rounded gluten-free menu.
Silver Beach Pizza is located in an active, unattended historic Amtrak train station. It’s paces away from Silver Beach, near the shores of Lake Michigan. The doors to the pizzeria open in the summer and overlook a large water fountain, splash pad and carousel where children play.
The restaurant is large, and always crowded as it does not take reservations. Many patrons choose to let their children play in the fountain, relax on the benches nearby or climb the towering stairs to the city’s main street while waiting for a table.
Silver Beach Pizza is considered to be the best pizzeria in town. Popular with locals and tourists alike, it’s a great place to meet friends and grab a slice of pizza. As a diner with a gluten sensitivity, I appreciate the menu: it features an incredible selection of gluten-free pizza.
The restaurant was founded in 2003, when its owners were on vacation visiting an area tavern. They ordered a draft beer and the story goes that the bartender reached down into a chest freezer, pulled out a frozen schooner glass and filled it with cold draft beer. The travelers fell in love with the glass and talked about opening a place that sold draft beer in a schooner glass. One of the travelers owned a place in Saint Joseph and loved its location. Following this conversation over beer, the town’s Amtrak train depot became available and the idea of opening a pizza place took shape. Two years later, they signed a lease and began serving pizza and schooners. The dough is made fresh everyday.
Two important things should be noted about the menu: first, the restaurant does not sell dessert. I normally plan to eat appetizers, entrees and dessert and had paced myself accordingly. Afterall, this restaurant is at the beach and it was fair to assume there was dessert.
And second, a variety of beverages can come in Schooners: margaritas (yum), beer and cider to name a few.
The restaurant does not take reservations, but they do have a waiting list. It has been my experience that it is best to send someone to the restaurant two hours before you’re hungry to get your name on the list. The hostess stand will send a text to your phone to let you know that your table is ready. This works well, as it allows you the opportunity to continue what you’re doing without having to wait for a table to open.