While traveling to and from our vacation this weekend, Keepitcoming pointed out a small restaurant on Route 146 that she remembered being delicious. It looked like exactly my type of pizza joint- on a creepy stretch of road and a local favorite. Call me Guy Fieri, but I was there, son. So on the way back, we stopped for lunch so I could see what the hype was all about.
Tony’s was packed for a lazy Sunday afternoon, full of regular patrons and families with kids, waitresses shouting salutatory questions out into the air. The decor was like stepping into someone’s furnished basement, with knotted pine walls and haphazardly scattered Little League trophies, along with photos and newspaper clippings and the requisite engraved “Captain’s Place” sign above the stairwell and doorway. The menu’s stock photos were straight out of the seventies and everyone called you “hon.” Definitely the kind of place that you can tell serves good pizza.
We placed our order- a small pizza with half cheese and half peppers and onions with a side of buffalo wings and waited a few minutes. Everything about this place was relaxed, so we sat for a bit and grabbed our drinks. After about fifteen minutes, our food was fresh and hot and we picked it up to eat. The pizza was twelve inches around, the standard small pizza size, and about 3/4 of an inch thick. I should give you a preface before I tell you how happy this made me- as a kid, I was a rebel to the “pizza theory”, that is, that your first slice/impression of pizza is what you consider pizza to be. Now that, of course, was thin, crispy, brick oven New Haven style pizza, and will always be, but in my youth, all I wanted was Domino’s or Pizza Hut. Party pizza. Greasy, thick, doughy pizza. I eschewed the artisan crisp for blankets of cheese, and never got it.
Now that I’m surrounded by mediocre pizza for the most part, (sorry, Western Mass) I find myself missing that crisp, thin tang, but this pizza really brought back memories of what I always wanted as a youth and never received. My god, this was delicious pizza. This was sublime. The crust was buttery, but not greasy, with a sweetness to the dough and a crisp exterior, barely passing the line of being crunchy. The crust, which never got soaked through with toppings, was covered in a layer of thick, sweet sauce- probably the closest thing I’ve found to a Beverly sweet sauce pizza thus far. It wasn’t really tomatoey, but flavored with more of an onion and brown sugar dominance, with garlic and tomatoes coming in to round it all out. The cheese was stringy, melty, and milky, all things I love in a pizza cheese. It was simple. It was comforting. When you get down to it, this was just delicious pizza. The upskirt.
Just when I thought I could have gorged myself on this and been happy for the rest of my life, the wings came. These were no ordinary wings. Up until now, I don’t think I’d ever been privy to dry wings with breading, but here they were. I realize I’m sounding a little like Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation when I tell you that “literally, these were the most phenomenal, most decadent chicken wings I’ve ever had in my entire life,” but they were that fucking good. Honestly. With one bite, the bulk of the meat fell off the bone along with the crispy, crispy shell, which was flavored with paprika and buffalo seasoning and garlic and all sorts of magic. Was this a traditional buffalo wing in the dictionary definition of the word? No. Was it better? By far. This is what I imagine broasted chicken to be- tender, falling off the bone, crispy, crunchy goodness. These are wings I would travel for.
The money shot. Doesn’t that look like a cartoon chicken wing? The kind that looks delicious and completely unrealistic? Yeah, that’s what these are. If we ever go down this way again, I’m definitely making a case to stop for more pizza and wings. For a menu with so many items, they do it right, and I absolutely love it.