Downtown Lakeland has a lot to offer. A peaceful nighttime stroll through Munn Park, relaxation on the grassy hills of Hollis Gardens, and the shimmering beauty of Lake Mirror are surely among them. But perhaps above all, this area of the city is to be cherished for its food. From the Cajun spice of Harry’s to the delectable treats of Black & Brew, there really is something for everyone. But what keeps both the college kids from Florida Southern and the townies happy is the authentic NY pie available from Palace Pizza on Kentucky Avenue.
On a busy night (First Friday, for instance), you will be standing in line a long time to grab a slice of pepperoni from Palace Pizza. Even on nights when downtown doesn’t seem quite so frantic, there is usually a wait for our favorite Italian export. Is the wait worth it? Well, it depends on how you feel about New York Style pizza. Because that style isn’t done better anywhere else in Lakeland. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available at the establishment, or you can simply get your food to go. Food is served cafeteria-style…well, you know the drill if you’ve ever been to a Sbarro’s or a pizza place in the mall. You peruse your choices, speak to the guy behind the counter, and get what you want.
Of course, delicious pizza isn’t all Palace Pizza has to offer Lakeland residents. They specialize in a variety of Italian cuisine, all of which is served quickly. Is this the restaurant you want when the mood strikes you for candlelight and a dinner jacket? Certainly not. But it’s a considerable step up from fast food and, depending on your tastes, it’s probably a step up from the chain pizza joints that dot the landscape as well. After all, what kind of calzoni and stromboli are you going to get from Hungry Howie’s? The garlic knots, as well, give Il Forno a run for their money, and that’s saying something.
If there is any drawback to Palace Pizza (other than the fact that they are typically very busy—but that can be said for most of the downtown restaurants and bars), it is that they have a heavy hand when it comes to their toppings. If you crave plenty of sauce, plenty of cheese, and plenty of grease on your pizza, this should be your next destination. If not, you may want to look for a milder pizza establishment. All in all, though, Palace Pizza is worth visiting at least once and it should remain a downtown mainstay for many years to come.
114 S Kentucky Ave
Want to start making restaurant-quality pizza at home? Maybe you just want to reheat your leftover slices. Either way, a Pizza Stone is an absolute must.