For those without a car, getting to the Niche off of Prince Avenue is a production involving precise timing and a journey on the Health Sciences Bus. But, if you’re dishing out nearly $4,000 for a meal plan, the made-to-order dining hall is worth the time.
Fortunately, for those who want to re-experience their meal plan glory days, or just those who enjoy food after 2:30 pm (when the Niche @ Health Sciences closes), there is a new campus food option.
On Wednesday, March 16, UGA Food Services cut the ribbon on the Niche Pizza Co., a made-to-order, a-la-carte pizza shop in the Tate Student Center’s Bulldog Cafe.
While visiting the Niche 2.0 (as I like to call it) lacks the adventure element of journeying off campus, it is poised to fill a food void.
The new eatery, which offers gelato, “old fashioned sodas” and dessert calzones in addition to pizza, is open 10:30 am to 12 am Monday to Saturday and 12 pm to 12 am on Sundays. Previously, individuals studying late at the 24/7 Miller Learning Center were out of on-campus options after 8 pm, unless they wanted to drop $9 to Snellebrate.
For those on meal plan, the 10″ $7.95 pizzas are not worth venturing from Bolton, but for a quick grab on campus, the pizza is easily on par for price and taste with Your Pie and other Athens options. Additionally, the new Niche offers a 7″ gluten-free crust for the same price.
I sampled the Athena pizza, featuring sun-dried tomatoes, basil, spinach, artichokes, onions and feta and was pleased with the thin crust. While the employees are still working on remembering the signature pizza combinations, they cook up the pizzas quickly when the foot traffic is low.
For uncomfortably hot Georgia days and a personal treat, the old fashioned sodas are worth dropping $3.45 on. I ordered the “Chapel Bell” (one of the many UGA-themed names on the menu) featuring passion fruit and pineapple juice, carbonated water, rosemary and whole raspberries.
Pleasantly sweet, the soda was super refreshing and bubbly and not over-loaded with ice. Although the raspberry flavor didn’t come through much, the rosemary provided a fresh aftertaste and an insta-worthy drink.
For dessert, you can’t go wrong with their gelato options. Each $2.75 cup or cone comes with two flavors (unlike the one scoop rule at the Niche 1.0).
I ventured for the mocha and chocolate cookie crunch, which were a dream-team pairing which could give gelato in Italy a fair run its money. The mocha had chocolate chips and the cookie crunch was light and creamy; even in 70°F weather, I had the cone finished before it had a chance to really melt.
While I would stick to the sodas or gelato for a warm day, the dessert calzones, at $2.75 each, could be worth the baking wait in chilly weather. They offer two options, a cinnamon and brown sugar filling or the Nutella and fruit-packed “Rival.”
Drawn to the word “Nutella,” I ordered the latter. I was a bit disappointed that “whole fresh fruit” really meant apple pie filling and not strawberries and bananas, but the toasty calzone was still tasty.
Apple and Nutella are an unconventional couple, but the apple mainly took over while the Nutella chilled in the background and provided some extra sweetness.
If you want a more filling dessert for your money or want to split dessert with a friend, the calzone will hit the spot.