I know this is kicking it old school a bit, but do you remember the original series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Besides their artistic namesakes (Donatello was my favorite), it was their epic obsession with pizza that has stuck with me through the years. It was a staple in my house growing up, and even still my husband and I feign the same enthusiasm in our best impersonated ninja turtle voices when the pizza cravings hit.

No matter what age I am, there is something about the comfort of pizza that makes me feel like a kid again, and Moonlight Pizza in Salida is the perfect locale not only to satisfy that cheesy appetite but also to provide a casual backdrop for the entire family to relax and enjoy. A Salida staple since 1994, Moonlight Pizza has made a name for itself because of its creative ninja turtle mentality that anything goes as toppings and flavor combinations for their pies.

Though they do offer a menu full of variety with everything from sandwiches to salads – complete with homemade salad dressing – to hot wings and calzones, it is their tried and true pizza concoctions that leave me satisfied with every visit. From French- and Greek-style selections to supreme-type pies piled high with local, made-fresh, in-house ingredients, including tomatoes, red onions, green peppers, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, Italian sausage and don’t forget the pepperonis (this is called the Full Moon), each menu option has been tested and approved by the entire pizza-loving family that runs the place.

My go-to is called a T-guns, which, according to the menu, is a local favorite and combines red sauce with spinach, pepperoni, tomatoes, cream cheese and jalapeños. It packs the punch of every profile note I am looking for with just the right amount of meat, spiciness and creaminess.

However, the enjoyable Moonlight atmosphere does not stop there. Since 2011, the restaurant has been brewing its own beer and making sodas to provide an authentic in-house experience with every facet. Their seven-barrel brewing system showcases nine specialty beers on tap that range from classic English styles and German lagers to hop-bomb American pales, according to co-owner Brenna Eaker. Along with fellow dynamic owners Kyle Buskist, Bryan Ward and Heather Adams, the genuineness of the company thrives on their desire for quality customer service and their passion for Moonlight Pizza, which fuels their own daily diets.

“It’s really important to the owners that, in addition to offering amazing food and service, we provide an atmosphere that is fun, energetic and welcoming to everyone. I like when our customers are happy, and when they enjoy their food. I’m really proud of our product, and that makes my job easy. My favorite part about my job is that, at Moonlight, we are a family, and I enjoy being close with all of our staff,” Eaker said.

“Also, I don’t think I could live if I had to cut MLP out of my diet.”

The sense of community Moonlight evokes can be found in more ways than one with their ongoing daily and weekly specials and the Moonlight Mondays program that gives back to nonprofit organizations in the area  just another way MLP provides the ultimate family-friendly atmosphere and decades of a successful operation.

“Moonlight Mondays were created by former owner, Kim Bouldin. She discovered she had a powerful vehicle in Moonlight Pizza and that she could use it as a community gathering area for people to come together and support various nonprofits around Chaffee County. We have been able to bring awareness and focus to these groups, as well as help them to raise money. Moonlight donates 10 percent of their sales for the day to the organization that is being hosted on that particular Moonlight Monday,” she said.

Hours of Operation

Monday-Saturday : 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sundaya: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Specials

Daily Happy Hour: 4-6 p.m. ($3.50 drafts, $5 margaritas)

Daily lunch special until 3 p.m. One-topping slice and a soda or cream ale for $5.50.

Steal the Pint 1st Monday of the Month – Come in for any full-priced beer and keep the pint glass.

Full Moon Special – On the day of a full moon buy a Full Moon or Harvest Moon pizza and get a pizza of equal or lesser value for free.

Twofer Tuesdays – Buy a whole sandwich, get a half sandwich free.

Wing Wednesday – 50-cent wings all day.

Thirsty Thursdays – Buy one margarita, get one free.

Sunday Special – 14-inch specialty pizza with 6 wings and 2 breadsticks for $19.99.