Relaxing in the evenings has become a priority, and I always appreciate watching cheesy movies to calm my anxious mind after a day of teaching summer school. Miss Congeniality is hardly a cinematic masterpiece, but it perfectly fills the role of a comforting classic. I recently dined at Trophy Brewing in Raleigh, and I thought of this movie immediately upon entering. In one of my favorite scenes, several contenders for Miss United States gasp as FBI Agent Gracie Hart enters with a box of pizza and six-pack of beer. Miss California exclaims, “Are you crazy? We can’t have pizza and beer!” Obviously, I do not share this contestant’s concerns, and thankfully, neither does Trophy. I have frequented Trophy throughout my time living in North Carolina, as their pizza may just be my favorite in the Triangle area, and their beer selections are always solid as well.
I last dined at Trophy to celebrate my friend’s birthday, and the food and drinks lived up to their standards from all previous visits. Located in downtown Raleigh, the cozy taproom creates the perfect escape from dreary weather, while the outdoor patio provides an ideal location for a relaxing lunch or dinner on a warm, sunny day. The one downside to this trip was the larger crowd that included outdoor diners who squeezed inside the indoor space to escape from the rain, which resulted in a less relaxed atmosphere. Avoiding Trophy at peak times and rainy days may prevent this situation from happening in the future.
Trophy, founded in 2012, creates a unique experience for visitors who may work up an appetite while sipping on the rotating beer selection. Instead of bringing food to the brewery from surrounding establishments, diners can order pizza and small plates in-house. Patrons can select from a variety of pizzas or design their own using the many original sauce, cheese, and meat options. I personally cannot fathom anything more satisfying than the combination of pizza and beer, but I often turn to other choices because of my lactose intolerance. After enjoying Trophy pizzas both without cheese and with Daiya vegan cheese, I can say this restaurant provides an optimal experience for diners who avoid dairy due to allergies or dietary preferences.
My friends and I ordered several different types of pizza and beer, all of which impressed. I started off with a pint of Pulled Punches ($6), a crisp Saison that featured rooibos tea and galaxy hops. This beer was refreshing and was perfect before dinner, as the pronounced tea flavor may have interfered with the tastes of the pizza. During dinner, I enjoyed a pint of the Yard of the Month cream ale ($5). Although this beer was not quite as unique as my first, its smooth finish and low level of bitterness nicely complemented my entrée without competing with it.
My friend and I split two small pizzas, each of which is enough for one person and potentially provides leftovers. We shared a small Daredevil pizza ($13), which includes ghost chili pepper salami, jalapenos, sriracha, and caramelized onions atop fire roasted tomato sauce. If you do not like or cannot tolerate spicy food, this pizza may not be your best bet. Appreciating fiery condiments from an early age, I absolutely cannot get enough of this pizza. It lives up to its name by actually providing heat, unlike so many dishes in this area that claim to do the same but only offer a modest burn. We also split the Best Dressed ($14 for a small), which includes pepperoni, lamb sausage, bacon, spinach, and red onions on a standard tomato base, yet this pizza is anything but standard. The ingredients are perfect, as they individually shine, while simultaneously uniting to provide a savory, slightly spicy experience with each bite.
Both of these as well as all other pizzas feature Trophy’s crust that fits my preferred style that is neither too thin, nor too thick. It also manages to deliver a satisfying flavor, while standing up to multiple toppings. Rather than mulling over whether to resist the temptation of pizza and beer, I always leave Trophy unsure of which of these two pies is my favorite and wondering when I will return.
Amy Sentementes is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at UNC Chapel Hill, where she studies political psychology and public opinion. She has managed to cope with the stress of graduate school by developing a love of cooking and “procrastibaking” for her friends and students. Additionally, Amy enjoys visiting local restaurants and breweries, and she hopes her research regarding group identities and stereotypes can help her evaluate cuisines from a unique perspective. A native Texan, she also loves visiting friends and family in the Lone Star State and cheering on her TCU Horned Frogs and Dallas Cowboys. You can follow her on Instagram @gradschoolfoodie.