Sunday, October 12, 2008

House of Pizza - 9.19.08

We’re not going to make excuses as to where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to because you know what happens when you do that.  A global financial crisis, that’s what.  And election promises.  Those too.  It all boils down to making lame excuses so we’re not going to do that.  Instead Nashville Eats It’s ABC’s is going to talk about the letter H and how that stands for downtown Nashville’s very own House of Pizza, located in the heart of The Arcade off Church Street. Today we were joined by our lovely friend Wendy Woodywood, who made the long trek all the way from downtown Franklin to lunch with the fellas and pitch in her 2 cents on what would be a memorable dinning experience.   

First, let me say that it was a honor to be invited as a guest of Eddie, Frank & Hank on the A-Z restaurant tour through Nashville. "H" led us to House Of Pizza, formerly known as Manny's House of Pizza, H O P, not to be confused with I H O P.  Entering H O P took me back to my years living in N Y C, the smells, the dirty grime that covered every surface and then the surprisingly tasty meat lovers stromboli with a delicious side of tomato dipping sauce on the side.  While waiting to place our order, we got to observe the staff of H O P.  One employee coughed several times while removing the stromboli from the tray with his bare hands - I was thankful that it was headed to the hot over to remove any germs. Another employee remarked that he had been working at the H O P for 23 years - he did know how to make a tasty pizza dough.  Would I return to the H O P?  Mmmm, I just don't have a peace about it...  But thank you  Eddie Hank and Frank for allowing me an insiders look at the A-Z Restaurant Tour de Nashville.    

In general, I like these kind of places.  Small and cramped with those big old pizza ovens giving off enough aromatic heat to fill the Sahara desert.  
Surveying the menu board and being pushed along by the longish line, I had to act quick.  Dang it.  No spinach calzone … so I opted for the next best thing - a meatball calzone and root beer.  Root beer is, by the way, the perfect compliment for calzone.  The pizza pie man behind the counter, aside from the aforementioned coughing fit, was flinging dough around the room like the seasoned pro.  Someone in line asked the pie man how long he’d been at the pizza trade and I think he said that he’d been doing it for 23 years.  That’s pretty dang long… and probably the same length of time since they scrubbed this place down.   The back dining room could’ve doubled as a dirty and dimly lit rural juke joint from a bygone era, sans pool table or juke box.  Virtually all of the cloth seats had disgusting stains on the seats and I had to find a plastic chain instead..  I’m all for dingy hole-in-the-walls, but I couldn’t bring myself to plant my butt in those seats.    As for my food, the calzone ranked a 7.5 out of 10, somewhere just south of Joey’s HOP and Pizza Perfect.   This thing was oozing ricotta cheese and the meatball was tasty.  It sat in my gut all afternoon like an iron fist.  An iron fist wrapped in cheese.  But I’m not complaining.  Solid.   

Dirty.  That’s the best way to describe this place.  From the moment I walked in I was hit with a stale mildew scent that doesn’t especially get me excited to eat.  Then...while ordering my food...the guy behind the counter was coughing and touching the food with his bare hands...nasty!  I went with the meat stromboli and it was just ok.  It was a bit dried out and hard...but tasted ok.  I’m not going to waste more words on this...I don’t see myself going back to this place.   

Eddie: House Of Pizza has certainly earned it's rightful spot on my worst of the worst list.  The whole place smelled like a dank basement and all the wobbly mismatched chairs had nasty food stains.  The food selection was surprisingly minimal.  At peak lunch time, all they had behind the glass were 2 calzones, 4 pizza rolls, and a few pizza slices.  I ended up with a calzone, which I managed to long as I forced myself to block out the images of the grumpy dude handling my food with his bare hands after coughing all over himself.  Also, the layout was not very ergonomic; the narrow entrance where you place your order is also the only exit, and would create a bit of a traffic jam if they ever became a busy lunch spot.  Which is unlikely considering the nasty.

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