BASE CAMP PIZZA CO.
ADDRESS: 1001 Heavenly Village Way, Suite #25A, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
The phrase “location, location, location” rings true for any business, especially in the restaurant industry. For Base Camp Pizza Co., it doesn’t get any more prime than being situated right inside The Shops at Heavenly Village. It’s literally steps away from both a Marriott resort as well as the Heavenly Gondola taking people up the mountain. If skiers or snowboarders wanted to get some food before heading up or recharge after time on the slopes, Base Camp is perfectly situated for people to stop in.
We dropped by for an early dinner after an intense escape room attempt that took us literally down to the last minute to claim victory (quick shout-out to Puzzle Room Tahoe). We must have hit the restaurant right at their rush, since the inside was absolutely packed. The outdoor seating looked like there were some spots open, but the hostess mentioned those were reserved. It looked like there wasn’t any getting around the 30-minute wait in front of us.
The waiting definitely helped me to build up an appetite, so the first thing I started looking over after we cracked open the menu was the appetizers. Fried calamari always seems to be a good bet, so we got one of those for the table. My cousin Kenny and I also decided to split a small portion of their Pear & Walnut salad.
There was no shortage of options when it came to the restaurant’s namesake. 11 different gourmet pizzas meant a variety of flavor combinations to choose from, ranging from a classic like Margherita to a more bold choice like the Thai Chicken Curry. But if there wasn’t anything that jumped out at you, the create-your-own route is also available as well.
In continuing with my goal of injecting some more vegetables into my vacation diet, I decided on the Fire Roasted Medley pizza. It was complete with roasted garlic, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, roasted onions and peppers, and goat cheese. Other pizzas around the table included the Base Camp as well as the Pear & Gorgonzola. The kitchen must be pretty accustomed to the crowd, because despite it being packed, our appetizer and salad got to the table in no time.
All things considered, the calamari checked all the boxes: sizable pieces, tasty batter, and not overly fried. I’d say it was average, however, compared to some others I’ve had in the past, but it certainly hit the spot. I actually enjoyed the salad a lot more than I was expecting to. The balsamic vinaigrette and the red onions definitely provided the tart flavor and some acid, while the pears and candied walnuts helped to balance out the flavors.
And then, it was time for the main attraction. Four pizzas took over the table’s surface, and the smells amplified my hunger once more, despite just finishing off two appetizers. Visually, the pizza definitely looked loaded up with the fire-roasted veggies, with the tomatoes, fresh basil, and goat cheese helping to break up the color palette a little bit on top.
After a few bites into the first slice, I have to be honest that it felt a bit underwhelming, especially after how delicious it looked initially. The toppings themselves were all excellent, tasting very fresh and packed with flavor. But the other two biggest components of the pizza, the sauce and dough, that didn’t really pull their weight. The dough had more of a flatbread type of texture and came across a little bit bland. The sauce also lacked the richness to help complement all of the toppings and enhance the flavors. A survey around the table brought similar sentiments on the other pizzas as well.
Base Camp has a prime location to dish out one food that almost everyone enjoys: pizza. The atmosphere inside is definitely very lively, and the restaurant staff treated us very well. But based on my samplings of their pizza, it just missed the mark for my personal taste. I wouldn’t mind eating here if others wanted to, but if pizza was what I was going for, I would take a look around at some other potential options.
Let’s now take a look at the Base Camp Pizza Co. Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Base Camp Pizza Co.:
Food: 3.5 / 5
The pizza triad consists of your dough, your toppings, and your sauce. In this case, two of those three items weren’t up to par on my pizza, which made it tough to truly call it good. However, the toppings did taste very fresh, and the other menu items we tried were pretty good to balance out the experience a bit.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
To continue on the ski lodge theme, the majority of the interior had a finished wood look. You had a mix of booths and tables, and there were also a few TVs scattered around the dining area for showing sports games. I thought that crowd-wise, even though the place was pretty packed, the noise level wasn’t too overwhelming.
Service: 4.5 / 5
Our waitress was very friendly and also helped provide some recommendations while we were ordering our food. I thought the pacing of the food from the kitchen was very balanced as well, with a good buffer of time coming between the appetizers and main courses.
Price: 3.5 / 5
There’s probably a certain premium to be had for such a great location, and as a result, those food prices lean on the expensive side. My pizza alone ran for $20, but I guess this could also be an instance where the “tourist location upcharge” might come into play.