by Eric Ginsburg
Two important things happened on our first trip to Blue Rock Pizza & Tap: We discovered the Stairway to Freebird pizza, and a complete stranger bought our first round.
When two friends and I — including our esteemed sports columnist Jeff Laughlin — piled into this High Point favorite around 6 p.m. on a Friday evening, it took us a minute to rearrange seats together at the bar. Even though it was still early, the bar side of Blue Rock Pizza & Tap was already slammed with couples, coworkers and friends.
As we pulled up our barstools, a man a few seats down told the bartender to put our first round on his tab, for no other reason than that he was a nice guy and had already knocked back a few himself.
There are plenty of draft beers to choose from, ranging from North Carolina labels including Howard Brewing and Lonerider to giants such as Blue Moon. One brew, the 14.2 percent ABV Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, rings in at $12, but most choices are less than half that.
The 20 or so taps, many of them IPAs or seasonal beers, offer a lot more than the short cocktail list, none of which sounded appealing, and we skipped the margarita and martini lists as well, instead trying seven beers among us.
The restaurant/bar has a sort of rock-and-roll feel: flames on the logo and the Grateful Dead iconography on the walls. The menu sections are named things like “first act,” “headliners” and “encore,” and cheesy pizza names such as “Purple Haze.” As my friend put it, the place is how we could imagine a Mellow Mushroom if it hadn’t gone corporate.
While I agree with the comparison, Blue Rock Pizza & Tap is undeniably High Point. It’s just one of the “blue” businesses in the local dynasty that includes Blue Bourbon Jacks, Blue Zucchini and a couple more. Nostalgia ranging from Alanis Morissette and the Band on the jukebox to the Traffic album or Jerry Garcia portrait on the wall also defines the feel, but no more so than the communal atmosphere or slight country leaning of the clientele.
But the people I know who come here leave talking most about the pizza and beer, in that order, and one trip was enough to validate those sung praises.
Stairway to Freebird may be a terrible name for a pizza, but you can’t go wrong with olive oil, chicken prosciutto, gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese, arugula, cherry-balsamic reduction and — most importantly — figs. Prosciutto, figs and gorgonzola are natural allies, but the other ingredients only enhanced the experience.
It’s easy to picture us coming back for this pizza, and staying for the beer. And everyone, on both sides of the L-shaped bar in that blue-lit room, was friendly. They even laughed at our terrible jokes.
Visit Blue Rock Pizza & Tap at 1529 N. Main St. (HP) or at bluerockpizza-hp.com.