Gulf Breeze Bar. Who wouldn’t want to go hang out at a place with that name? It’s the name of the bar in the Beach Tower of Island View Casino, and while yes, it’s a bar, it has one food specialty: artisan flat bread pizzas.
I’ve never been a fan of plump, cushiony pizza dough or stuffed crusts or any of that foolishness. For me, the crust should serve merely as the carrier of toppings: a convenient, stable and non-messy way to convey sauce, cheese and veggies (and maybe ham or chicken) from plate to mouth. So flat-bread sounded like something I could appreciate.
Getting to the Gulf Breeze Bar is very easy. Just go to the second level of the Beach Tower and go straight to the back. I like parking in the general lot behind Beach Blvd. Steamer and taking the crosswalk over U.S. 90 just for the fun of walking over the highway.
There’s seating inside the bar and out on the balcony. I had hoped a friend could join me, but things changed that afternoon, so I wound up going by myself. No problem. I got a table on the balcony to watch the sunset while I enjoyed my meal.
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Gulf Breeze Bar offers eight varieties of flat bread pizzas, $9 each, with everyone from the herbivore to the serious carnivore in mind.
Tropical Oasis: mango Parmesan sauce, mozzarella, diced tomatoes and grilled pineapple with a cilantro coconut lime finishing sauce
Buffalo Banshee: buffalo cream cheese, grilled buffalo chicken, mozzarella, blue cheese and scallions with a buttermilk ranch finishing sauce
The Hawaiian: Virginia smoked ham, pineapple marinara, diced pineapple and smoked Gouda cheese with a coconut lime finishing sauce
Vegan: tomatoes, zucchini, squash, eggplant and Vidalia onions grilled and topped with provolone light white sauce with basil aioli finishing sauce
Delta BBQ: slow smoked pulled pork, cheese blend and Coast-made Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce with a barbecue ranch finishing sauce
Spinach Florentine: fresh spinach dressing topped with three cheeses and fresh Tuscan tomato pico de gallo topping
Taco: seasoned beef, salsa sauce, pepper jack and cheddar cheeses, black olives, lettuce and pico de gallo with cream avocado finishing sauce
Decisions, decisions. I finally chose the Vegan. It’s hard for me to resist pesto.
Sitting on the balcony, soaking in the last rays of the day’s sun, I felt like doing something touristy. I considered ordering a Flamin’ Mai Tai, but then I realized the show would be underwhelming before true night time fell. Oh, well. Another visit.
You can consider this a “personal” pizza, but the average woman likely will have leftovers. I made sure I arrived hungry, and I still had plenty for lunch the next day. It’s well loaded and comes out on a thick wooden plank. It was exactly what I wanted: Just enough crust to hold the goodies. The veggies are in big chunks. The finishing sauce is a little thinner than a traditional pizza sauce, but thick enough to stay in place; it was a nice touch, and I definitely got the basil-garlic (but not too garlicky) flavor from the creamy sauce.
Supervisor Gerald Harris said the more popular flat bread options are Taco, Hawaiian and Spinach Florentine, but that they all are hits with customers. Ron Ruland is Gulf Breeze Bar’s manager, and Carrie Bounds-Hitchings is assistant manager.
Gulf Breeze Bar
Where: Island View Casino, 3300 W. Beach Blvd., Gulfport
What: Bar with artisan flat bread pizzas. Indoor and outdoor balcony seating with views of the Mississippi Sound
Hours: 3-10 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Live music 7-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Phone: 228-314-2100 or 1-877-774-VIEW (Island View general number)