Bottoms Up Pizza, a tasteful double entendre in Richmond

When Kathryn and I arrived in Richmond last Saturday, we were hungry. Food on the plane is a ripoff nowadays, and our layover in Charlotte was too short to grab a meal. After we picked up our bag and rental car, we drove straight to Bottoms Up Pizza.

Bottoms Up Pizza was one of my regular places to eat when I lived in Richmond, at least in part because it was walking distance from my apartment in the Tobacco Row area. It is located in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, hence the name. Indeed, it’s at the very bottom of Shockoe Bottom. A line on the wall near the entrance shows customers how high the flood water rose in the aftermath of Hurricane Gaston in 2004, just a few weeks after I moved to Arizona. Most of the first floor must have been underwater.

Bottoms Up Pizza, Richmond, interior
A view of the dining area at Bottoms Up Pizza, Richmond, Virginia. The brick wall was originally an exterior wall. As the dining area expanded, it became an interior wall.

Bottoms Up Pizza remains quite popular. In fact, we had to wait about 15 minutes for a table at 2:30 in the afternoon. They have expanded the dining area since my previous visit. You can still see the trains passing by on the tracks overhead from almost anywhere in the restaurant.

Bottoms Up Pizza, Richmond, the Loaded and the Karen Combo
A look at our pizzas at Bottoms Up, the Loaded and the Karen Combo.

It’s hard to describe the pizza at Bottoms Up. It doesn’t fit any of the traditional descriptions like Chicago-style or thin-crust. They call it 12-hour crust, but that doesn’t tell us much. The crust rises quite high off the plate, like you might expect in a deep-dish pizza. However, it has an airy quality like you might find in an order of bread sticks. It’s almost as if they let the dough rise without punching it down, then baked it. Despite its thickness, it’s light and crispy, rather than dense and chewy. If you’re a pizza purist, it may not be for you. I like it though.

Another thing I like about Bottoms Up is their slices, which are a quarter of a large pizza. Any pizza can be ordered as a slice. Kathryn and I were able to try completely different slices, rather than compromising on a single pie. I ordered the Bottoms Up Loaded, which is topped with Italian sausage, fresh ground beef, ham, pepperoni, sliced onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and black olives. Kathryn ordered the Karen Combo, which is covered with spinach, Ricotta cheese, Italian sausage, and onions.

The ambiance at Bottoms Up is interesting. The service can best be described as controlled chaos, although the same can be said about a lot of urban eateries. The restaurant has outgrown the building it’s in. Most of the dining area is comprised of enclosed patios. It all looks like it was thrown together in haste. The location is at the intersection of several major railroads. The constant passing trains elevate the noise level, but they’re fun to watch, if you’re into that sort of thing.

If you go: Bottoms Up Pizza is located at 1700 Dock Street, in the Historic Shockoe Bottom neighborhood of Richmond. It’s in a triangular red brick building at the corner of 17th Street, underneath the railroad tracks. The James River Flood Wall is across the street.

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