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Lilly’s Pizza

Posted by DID 7 Jun 2012 48 Comments

Here’s a quick first glimpse at the new Durham location of Lilly’s Pizza – much beloved Raleigh institution. The interior and exterior looks pretty similar to the old Pop’s set up. There are outdoor tables and upstairs seating now.

Update: Crowds have died and we’ve been able to walk in and snag a table during lunch and on both Thursday and Friday nights. Service is still spotty – always friendly, just sometimes slow or neglectful. We’ve had nothing but excellent eats. Two recommendations – always, always order the side salad. It’s only $3 and it’s a bowl full of premium lettuces, honey pecans, pepper jack cheese, carrots, and sweet, bready croutons. Lilly’s also offers a wide selection of excellent housemade dressings. So far the stand-outs for me are the pear vinaigrette, the balsamic vinaigrette, and the lemon tahini. As for pizza, the Hawaiian Punch is my go-to. It’s organic tomato sauce, mozzarella, sopressata, mandarin oranges, pineapples, parmesan & ricotta – yum. I’ve also had a slice with the pesto sauce and topped with feta and shrimp – it was incredible. The menu is a bit confusing as to when Lilly’s offers slices. We were told you can order slices only before 5 pm Monday-Friday with even more limited availability on the weekends.

While I do miss some of the edge of the Raleigh location, it certainly is nice to have Lilly’s in the Bull City.

Lilly’s Pizza
810 West Peabody Street
Sunday – Thursdays 11am – 10pm
Friday – Saturday 11am – 12am


  • Tooth said:

    I ate there last night. They charged me $1.00 for two glasses of tap water.


    Jenne replies on June 7th, 2012 at 12:24 pm:

    Did you bring your own glass and get it yourself? If so, then you might have something to complain about. If not, well…


    Chris replies on June 7th, 2012 at 12:53 pm:

    Point taken, except for the fact that a free (or almost free) glass of water is almost universally standard in the U.S. Yes, there is missed profit if a customer doesn’t buy soft drinks or beer, but it is pretty customer un-friendly not to offer water.

    Anyway, is this really true or is it trolling? I don’t remember being charged for water at the Raleigh location.


    judas_escargot replies on June 7th, 2012 at 1:16 pm:

    Taking it one step further, I’m not familiar with any law that requires them to give you water for free, even if you furnish your own cup.

    That aside, it’s just a dick move to charge a customer for a glass of water. Are their margins really that thin or could it have just been an irate employee? Wouldn’t mind getting some follow-up on this one.


  • Tooth said:

    My wife had a glass of wine. I ordered two beers, one draft and one bottle. We shared a salad. We ordered two customized 10 inch pizzas. Then I got chiseled out of a dollar for two glasses of tap water. It was listed on the itemized receipt.


    Tachyon replies on June 7th, 2012 at 1:52 pm:

    So how was the food?


    Peter replies on June 7th, 2012 at 4:31 pm:

    I’d guess it doesn’t really matter as he won’t be going back?

    I probably won’t be going there either now that I’ve read this…


    TSQ75 replies on June 12th, 2012 at 9:13 am:

    I didnt get charged for my water.

  • DGM said:

    Charge for water?! = fail!


  • MRS said:

    Any calzone reportage would be most welcome, thanks in advance.


    S replies on June 8th, 2012 at 11:09 am:

    I’ll report that I was disappointed in the calzone at Lilly’s. The crust was crunchy (especially where the dough was seamed together and folded). There was no ricotta in the one we ordered — perhaps it serves me right for not reading the menu carefully. It came with a cold plastic cup of sauce, which I suppose I could have complained about.
    (I should mention that my standard for local calzones is Pepper’s. If you don’t like the calzone there, you might like Lilly’s.)

    The pizza on the other hand was pretty good in a Mellow Mushroom sorta way. They certainly have a large range of toppings.


    S replies on June 8th, 2012 at 6:29 pm:

    I just re-read my message, thought it focused too much on the negative, and would like to add a few more comments:

    - crust: this could be a style issue; I thought it was too crunchy given my ideal calzone, but it was enjoyable in a different way and some folks might find it preferable.

    - ricotta: another possible style issue; I can’t imagine a calzone without ricotta as a main ingredient, but according to wikipedia, it’s not required.

    - sauce: When I said it was “cold”, I didn’t mean that it was hot and had cooled to room temp, but that it must have just come out of a refrigerator. I can’t imagine anyone would want to dip their calzone in cold sauce. Was this intentional/normal or was it a mistake?
    If it was a mistake, I can understand, especially since they just opened. If not, I don’t get it and will just stick to the pizza.

    In closing, I hope my comments weren’t too harsh. I wish them luck, encourage folks to visit and form their own opinions, and I’ll go back in a few weeks to give them another shot.


  • Oz said:

    Our apologies on the charge for water… that should not have happened and is being fixed in the computer (I assure, we do not charge for water) The ricotta also should have been included, but as we are working through issues with our POS system (the computer that we use to order) that have caused miscommunication problems with the kitchen, we have had a few hiccups. As for the sauce and crust, thank you for your input and I promise they will be addressed. Today is our 5th day being open and we are still ironing out the kinks, so I hope you will give us another try… thank you, Durham. We are happy to be part of this city.


    Dan replies on June 10th, 2012 at 6:45 pm:

    Awesome that you replied and cleared it up! Can’t wait to try Lilly’s in the upcoming week!


  • heather said:

    We had a good experience with the Cowtipper pizza. Still not the pizza we’re used to from New York, but it’s the best in Durham thus far. Like the food and the vibe – we’ll be back.


  • TSQ75 said:

    i’m not comparing anything to the NY pizza i grew up with…why would I? its not NY. whatevs.

    went to Lily’s with friends friday night to sample the fare. Glad i gave us time to relax because being friday night, it was understandably busy and a long wait. no matter, the patio was fabulous, and the night was pleasant as could be.

    our party had a sampling of things: salads, which were a generous helping of good components. an appetizer, and 3 different house pizzas. no room for dessert. we were totally pleased with everything. we loved the combination of toppings on the 5 points, and the Hawaiian punch pizzas, and raved over the crust–which was incredibly chewy, and had a great crustiness over a mild and chewy dough.

    lots of things on the menu that i look forward to trying, and a couple of desirable lunch specials (the 2 slice+drink, and soup/salad specials especially.) If nothing else, i forsee a great place to hang out afternoons after work with a drink on the patio. Filling a void for local pizza in a sit-down environment, i hope to see lily’s do well.


  • Jason said:

    Went tonight for the first time. Pizza is up to par with the Lilly’s we know and love, water came out without asking and was free, beer selection was good and I was told it was getting better. Still have a couple of kinks to get out but the product is good. Real good. Nice to get my Lilly’s fix in Durham now.


  • Aiantas IX said:

    So great to have Lilly’s in Durham. Once upon a time I lived in Raleigh and got hooked on their pizza; for the last several years I’ve lived in Durham but have continued to go back as often as possible. Now they’re down the street from me- closer than they were when I was in Raleigh.
    I’ve eaten at the Durham location once and it was everything I remembered. It’s not New York style, or Chicago style- it’s got a style all its own.
    There are several good places for pizza in the Dirty but for me Lilly’s is tops!


  • Ken Macdonald said:

    Shut it down, fix it, and start over. Let me say this: I love, love, love Lilly’s at Five Points. The owner was always very nice to my family when we lived in the area and ate there, and we even got to meet Lilly herself, his old dog. But Lilly’s Durham is not ready to go. My daughter and I were very excited to go there tonight. After calling ahead to be assured we would not need reservations, I arrived to be told to expect a five minute wait – no one ahead of us on the waiting list, so it should be quick. Five minutes stretched into 15 minutes, then 30… Even when tables opened up, they wouldn’t seat us, because the kitchen wasn’t ready. So we couldn’t even get drinks or bread. After being told 40 minutes after arriving that we could ask the manager if we could be seated, we left, walked over to Satisfaction, and got satisfaction – fast service, local beer on tap, pretty good pizza. I still prefer Lilly’s pizza, but not if you can’t get it. This place is giving Lilly’s a bad name.


  • Oz said:

    I am sorry for your wait, but the hostesses have been instructed that when we go on a wait, it starts at 15-20 mins (you should never have been told 5 mins)… this wait (when tables are available) happens because we have added delivery to our take out options, and as a result, we have been overloaded with take out/ delivery orders that can slow down in-house service. Rather than have you sit at a table and wait for food, thus thinking our service is slow, we go on a seating wait. We are trying to make things better and sincerly hope you and your daughter will give us another try… ask for me and I will insure that you get prompt service as we only strive to get better and better.

    (p.s.- as for heated marinara, we are looking into a new unit to handle that…)

    Thank you, Durham, for being so wonderfully patient with us as we grow… we promise to listen.


  • Kid Stardust said:

    Sorry to post hearsay instead of first-hand experience, but a coworker of mine went to Lilly’s for lunch during their first week in business, and then again yesterday. He was happy to report that service and wait times have gotten a lot better. I’ll look forward to trying Lilly’s now that they’re finding their groove.


  • Raleighrob said:

    So the Durham Lilly’s is sit-down full service restaurant?? That’s just….odd.


  • Rick said:

    We went last night and had pizza and salads. Both were fantastic. We were seated right away and the service was prompt and excellent. Definitely going back, and since they deliver, we’ll surely take advantage of that as well. Great to see Lilly’s in Durham!


  • Sant said:

    Took advantage of their lunch deal today, two slices with 2 toppings and a drink (including lemonade!) for <$7 with tax– good deal! Toppings are of higher quality and variety than other joints. The cheese doesn't get oily when it melts, again indicating higher quality. Unique in that they let you pick your toppings even on pizza by the slice lunch special. The only major con, for me at least, is that the pizza crust is too thick. It's akin to pizza made with foccacia bread. Is a thinner crust an option? If not, please make this an option. My office is a 5 minute walk from Lilly's so if thin crust is available I see this place getting a lot of my lunch money.


    judas_escargot replies on June 26th, 2012 at 7:18 am:

    There actually is a thin crust option… not sure if they make any slice pies that way though.

    The “thin” crust is still a bit thick, unfortunately.


  • Sean Lilly Wilson said:

    Had a great lunch on the patio. Prompt service and tasty Thai pizza. Man, that crust is delicious!


  • TSQ75 said:

    went in for lunch intending on getting the lunch special, which is 2 slices with 2 toppings and a drink for 6.50(?)

    SO and I actually opted for a small pie to split at the same price. we dont get the extra topping option, but I realized how flexible the base toppings were. Choice of like 5 different sauces and just as many cheeses, and roasted garlic is a freebie! worked out perfectly for us!


  • KTD said:

    Great photos! love the ambiance & really enjoy the food at Lily’s!! deeelish!


  • bob said:

    oh the anality…


  • Jen said:

    I love Lilly’s! I used to live in the Five Points area (raleigh) and this was my go to dining spot. The Durham Lilly’s tastes the same, and I personally was stoked to find out upon visiting that they wait on you :D Our first visit was a week after opening, and service was a bit slow (as I expected), but the food was all great (pizza, breadsticks, salads at our table). I’ve since ordered delivery 3 times and it was perfect! Granted, I live about a 5 minute drive from the restaurant, but pizza was piping hot, salad was cold, it was awesome. Each time I was quoted 30-40 minute wait time, and it arrived in about half that. If you live nearby, I recommend delivery! I can’t speak to non-pizza or salad options, but seriously you must have a salad. They’re the best, hands down. My fiance and I usually split a salad and a 10″ pizza. Perfect for two, maybe even a bit too much.


  • chaydgc said:

    I don’t eat much pizza. I don’t eat much ja jiang myun or kibbeh nayeh either. I like them all on rare occasion.

    Yesterday I thought of pizza for the first time in probably 2 years. I had heard of Lilly’s.

    The person taking the order asked if I wanted ‘hand-tossed’ or ‘regular’. I thought all pizza was ‘hand tossed’ so asked what she meant. It turned out that ‘regular’ meant a doughy crust. I said I’d have ‘hand tossed’.

    To their credit, they did not presume that my order was a margarita pizza plus cheese plus the items I requested. I remembered after I placed the order that my failure to specify negatives the other time I’d ordered pizza in Durham had resulted in quite a mess. Also to their credit (we do want to give credit where due!) they delivered the cheeseless, tomato-sauceless pizza within the time specified.

    Sadly, it was still a mess, a pile of commercial fat atop a thick, doughy, SWEET circumference. It was not a pizza. It was a disappointment. It went in the garbage and I won’t be ordering from Lilly’s again.

    No matter for Lilly’s, all in. I don’t see pizza as more than an occasional (annual?) snack at best, so I am sure I can find another outlet for the periodic interest. This is just fyi for anyone who might both know and care about pizza. Actually writing about this I am starting to crave, alas.


    Bob replies on July 28th, 2012 at 1:32 pm:

    You obviously know absolutely nothing about pizza…..but then, neither does Lilly’s. Your post helps about ZERO people btw.


    chaydgc replies on July 28th, 2012 at 8:12 pm:

    I don’t dispute my pizza ignorance. What little I know derives from my experience over the past 25 years with John’s on Bleecker (NYC), Evan Kleiman’s place on Beverly (LA), Frank Pepe’s (New Haven) and various of their competitors. As I said, I don’t eat much pizza in general, but when I’m seized by the rare craving it’s that charcoal blister and pliable slice that come first to mind, with a judicious hand on the toppings (if any) and no presumed slather of tomato sauce and slick of pasteurised mozzarella. (I’ve seen Pie Pushers Pizza that looked like what I’d expected when I placed Lilly’s order; food trucks are setting the standard. Best part of this site but time to integrate.)

    That said, ‘Bob’, I’m dazzled by your ability to represent EVERYONE in judging my post unhelpful. I’d intended to make a contribution to the forum but beg the moderators to remove this post should my efforts be misplaced or inappropriate.


    judas_escargot replies on July 28th, 2012 at 11:30 pm:

    Not sure where Bob is coming from, but you just sounded a bit pretentious, that’s all. Like the throwaway ja jang myun reference you dropped there at the beginning… hilarious. Foodie-cred established, better take this guy seriously! At any rate, looking forward to your next review.

    Bob replies on August 4th, 2012 at 9:16 am:

    Paragraph 4…I still cannot figure out what the heck you ordered. Can anyone else?
    Oh well, at least you had the sense to throw it in the garbge so in that sense I guess your review was VERY informative after all…thank you, I apologize.

    Bob replies on August 4th, 2012 at 9:28 am:

    btw, did you notice the rack of PAR-BAKED crusts standing proud right up front at the pizza make station? People around here will eat anything!!!

  • Brook said:

    This is the best pizza my wife and myself have had in a long time! The crust is so good we didn’t even save the pizza bones for our Dogs, sorry Mitch and Bella if your reading this. If you really enjoy trains like I do, if you sit outside you can’t get much closer to the main line (the only line) through Durham. Seriously it’s really good pizza as the cheese and topping are piled high, but the crust, how do they make the crust so good. The service we received was wonderful and friendly and the restaurant was very clean.


  • kelly said:

    I LOVE Lilly’s. This is really saying something because I’m originally from Chicagoland, where there is plenty of good pizza to be had.

    The service at Lilly’s is a little spotty. I’ve been in a couple of times and had to wait quite a while for pizza. However, the staff have always been gracious and have given us free pizza, beer, and desserts in order to make up for the delay. The pizza at Lilly’s is delicious, as is the side salad. I find myself constantly talking to friends about Lilly’s and inviting them to join my husband and I for a slice.


  • Sharon said:

    Ate there in late July for the second time, but may not try it again. The food is pretty good, but the person running the kitchen may need to think about a different career. Husband, son and I ordered dinner. My calzone came in 10-15 minutes (with ice cold marinara sauce–who thought this was a good idea?). Husband’s and son’s dinner, though, came 30-40 minutes later. The waitress, who was pleasant, but clearly embarrassed by the disorder around her, explained that the kitchen was really backed up. We complained to the manager, who refunded the late entrees, but this was a dining experience I’m not sure I want to repeat.


  • Kid Stardust said:

    I think this place is just not set up to deliver optimally efficient service. Came in and ordered a lunch special to go, slice and salad. After 20 minutes of waiting I asked about my order. My salad was stuck in a cooler and my slice was in a box on top of the oven. Both out of sight, out of mind for the server. I’d say they’ve had long enough to work this nonsense out. I won’t be back.


  • Durrum Might said:

    I’ve ordered Lilly’s pizza twice—once take-out, once dine-in. The service was well-meaning but only borderline competent. The pizza is terrible, though. Does no one on this site who’s touting the quality of the crust not recognize that it is far, far too sweet? Good god, it’s an abomination! Usually bad pizza (Pizza Hut for instance) is characterized by too much sugar and salt in the red sauce, but rarely do you find too much sugar in the crust. Lilly’s, I want you to succeed, buy you’ve got to cut the sugar in the crust. If this is what passes for good pizza in Raleigh, then I’ll stick to Randy’s.


  • Joe said:

    Okay, so I love pizza and moved here from Buffalo where you get fantastic pizza on every neighborhood corner. So Lilly’s I want to support you and have been to your place I think now four times. I believe in giving places the benefit of the doubt and try them more than a couple of times to make a fair comparison.
    So here it is, your pizza is pretty good and better than anything else in the Durham area being offered right now. That being said I don’t understand the concept of about two inches of blown up dough around the edges I have gotten two of the four times I have been there to eat. I really don’t know if you are trying to cut corners or your pizza guy is just screwing it up. I’m sorry but pizza I have had has dough around the edge of course but this is going too far. The other thing is service. I know you guys have gotten criticized for this by others but your staff doesn’t listen to what he customer asks for. I’m sorry to say it but sometimes they seem like they’ve been smoking something. I know it’s hard to get good serious help these days but paying attention is not a lot to ask for. Items have been left off the pizza, they have forgotten to bring drinks after ordering them and one time our pizza just sat on top of the oven and not delivered to our table until after 30 minutes and we had to ask the waiter where our food was. He never once thought about looking into it himself. I also feel your dough is too sweet so please try to cut back on the sugar. One last thing, it is too noisy in the restaurant. I know that the high ceilings don’t help but there has to be something that can be done. A couple of things would be lower the music since sometimes it’s too loud and lower the volume on the tv’s. I think the staff gets a little crazy with both these things. I will continue to support you if I see gradual improvement and will continue to buy from you if you take some of these comments seriously. I wish you luck but these are just precedural things that staff should be able to learn. Good luck.


  • Sprice said:

    First time experience tonight (we did takeout) and we were very much underwhelmed. We noticed, as others have noted, that the dough/crust was WAY too sweet. If this is the norm, then I can’t say we’ll be back. Best of luck though.


  • Jon said:

    I and my friends absolutely love this place. Don’t get all the hater’s on here because the service has improved tremendously and the food is always excellent. The salads are to die for. The beer selection has improved. The new gm kicks butt. You hater’s should give it another shot! Plain and simply, the best in Durham!


    cdd replies on September 6th, 2013 at 4:47 pm:

    I find this comment amusing. Not been our experience at all. And we’ve tried multiple times including right after this comment was made. Still just average and the service was not any better.


  • John said:

    Lilly’s has been consistent in one thing, over the course of approximately 10 visits in the last year: abysmal service. I’ve eaten lunch in the restaurant on days when I was one of the only customers, and still it took an unusually long time for the server to even greet me, and then I was left to contemplate my order for fifteen minutes. What was the final straw for me was my interaction yesterday. I decided to order pizza for my class. I called at 5pm and asked if 45 minutes was enough time for a pizza to be ready. Why yes it would be, the Lilly’s employee responded, encouragingly. In fact, we could have a pizza ready in 20 – 25 minutes from the time you place the order, he said. Great, I thought! I placed the order: one 16″ pizza with half cheese, half green peppers. I arrived at 5:45 pm, only to find what I always find–something had gone wrong. No, the pizza was not ready. Just a moment, sir. That pizza will be right out. Right out? What is your definition of right out? Do you want to pay now? Okay, I guess. Twenty minutes later, the pizza was ready. That’s what “right out” is. Why 20 minutes? Because they didn’t even put it in the oven until after I arrived.

    I was incredibly frustrated. This is the kind of service I’ve come to expect. Friends have experienced varying degrees of Lilly’s incompetence over the year (including: waiting 2 hours for delivery, only to be told they couldn’t do it and we’d have to pick it up, having a server write a derogatory name for my friend’s table on the bill, being generally tardy in all points of the service process). They cannot do time management. When they saw I was frustrated today, the very kind server kept telling me I looked visibly angry. I was. She also told me she does a good job on her end (serving tables), and that she does not handle the carry-out orders. No one would take responsibility. When I spoke to the person I presumed was a manager, I explained that I’d never had a dining experience at Lilly’s that was prompt and effortless, and that this would likely be my last pizza from them. Rather than offer to refund my meal (or discount it, or any other gesture to make the situation right) or to give me any kind of plausible explanation, he just said, “Sorry.” I’m sorry, too. I’m sorry I gave this restaurant the benefit of the doubt. I went to Lilly’s because it was semi-decent pizza. Let’s not kid ourselves into believing Lilly’s is gourmet or above average. It’s decent pizza, but it’s not particularly special. If you want that, go to Pizzeria Toro down the street, which, despite being more expensive, is consistently delicious, and has impeccable service. Lilly’s is a joke when it comes to serving, and they have a reputation for it. They have defended their establishment and claimed they were working on it in reviews I’ve read from the past, but so far as I can tell, no progress has been made. They had more than enough employees–I counted 8 people running around–to fill my order within 45 minutes. Instead. I got “Sorry,” no explanation, an average pizza. Oh, and I was late to my own class, due to the delay. I will not ever be returning to Lilly’s. The fact that I am so worked up over pizza (who cares, right?) should give you an idea of the consistently bad service.


    Kid Stardust replies on September 3rd, 2013 at 9:26 pm:

    I hear you. I work around the corner from Lilly’s and they have been a no-go for me for months now after a similar series of frustrating experiences. They just cannot seem to get it together. I’m frankly surprised they’re still in business, as I know nobody who has anything positive to say about the place.


  • Tino said:

    Has this location closed for good? There are signs up on the doors saying they are closed until further notice.


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