Open since 2003, Satchel’s is a Gainesville institution. It has great food, a great vibe and a fascinating story. It’s not just a restaurant – it’s more of an attraction.
First, the pizza. Satchel’s offers an Italian-style pie (which happens to be my favorite style). The crust is soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, crispy and dark brown on the bottom. The slices are floppy, and require two hands to hold.
There are 31 different toppings from which to choose (including tempeh and carrots as well as the usual suspects like mushrooms and peppers). There’s regular, deep dish, and calzones, too. There’s soy cheese and a millet and flax pizza.
My favorite pizza there is delicious – with sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, artichoke hearts and feta cheese – and satisfying. Along with the Satch Salad, one slice is always enough for me.
And speaking of the salad, it is a delectable combo of red and green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, a little red onion, tomatoes, almonds, apples, sunflower seeds, a walnut or pecan for good luck and grated Romano cheese. I have a bottle of Satchel’s Secret Salad Dressing, the house vinaigrette. The ingredients: “love, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, spices, more love.” You can buy the dressing on the web site, by the way.
To drink there are retro sodas in glass bottles (first time in a long time I had a cream soda) and a good selection of beer and wine, including organic wines. And there are desserts, like home-made cannoli.
Get more details on all the above menu items and more at www.satchelspizza.com/swf/menu.html.
I mentioned above that Satchel’s is an attraction. That’s because while you’re waiting to be seated (there’s often a wait as this place is so popular and it doesn’t take reservations), or after your meal, there’s lots to do, and to see. Lightnin’ Salvage Enterprises, defined as a junk museum, a five & dime gift shop and a lounge (where live music is offered nights), is located just behind the pizza restaurant itself.
Also on the property is the “Walk-O-Junk,” the “Fountain-O-Junk,” a kids’ play area, a bocce ball court and a tree house, among other spots (check out the Map of the Deal). There’s a table in the tree house, as well as two tables in an old, no-longer-running 1965 Ford Falcon van parked out front. I can imagine how much kids would love to be seated in either of these places.
Everything and everywhere on the property is decorated. Collections – of cameras, toothbrushes, fake fruits and toilet paper dispensers… almost anything you can think of – are displayed artistically throughout. You can share an idea for a collection, show your collection or add to an existing one. Get more details, and a list of collections here.
I should also mention that if you don’t want to wait for a table at Satchel’s, you can order your food to go and eat it straight from the box in either the lounge or the outdoor picnic area.
Satchel’s, and owner Satchel Raye, an artist, both have interesting histories. Satchel himself is quite a writer and he has written his and the restaurant’s story on the backs of several menus. You can read them by clicking on "menu-backs" at the top of www.satchelspizza.com.
If you’re in Gainesville, you shouldn’t miss this place.
Satchel’s is cash only, but there’s an ATM on the premises (the restaurant donates the ATM fees to local charities). Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.