Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives Road Trip - Pizza Junction

Pizza Junction was the last Diners, Drive-ins and Dives ("DDD") restaurant that we could fit in for our DDD road trip. The restaurant is located in North Tonawanda, New York, near the Canada / US border, which is very convenient for us heading back to Toronto.

To avoid long weekend traffic back home, we left Pittsburgh early afternoon so when we got to Pizza Junction it was only around 4:30PM. We expected the early dinner so we didn't eat much for lunch.

Watch the DDD video. Look how much horseradish the guy puts in for the Beef on Weck Pizza! Look how much pulled pork he puts in the Pulled Pork Pizza! Portions are insaneeee~

When we got to Pizza Junction there was only one other table occupied in the dining room. Not surprised since it was only 4:30PM. The doors to the right in the picture leads to another room with a bar.

I wouldn't say Pizza Junction is a diner, nor a drive-in, nor a dive, but an actual restaurant. A pretty dated looking restaurant though in my opinion. I think a makeover is in store.

Old school paper "place-mats" with ads.

Me: "What? Monday Karaoke?!"
Boyfriend: "What? $2.00 Blue Light Pints?!"
We obvious have different interests.

Stuffed Banana Peppers - A large banana pepper stuffed with homemade pepper stuffing and pepper jack cheese.

I would not normally order this but since it was on DDD I *had* to order it. It was ok, nothing special at all. And note, it looks nothing like the neat and tidy stuffed pepper in the episode; mine was a puddle, a mess. From the video it seems like a lot of ingredients went into the stuffing, but I couldn't taste any of it: all I could taste was the tomatoes, the sprinkled cheese, and just bread stuffing. The banana pepper, the limp and wet looking green object, was actually really spicy. But yeah, nothing really went well together here - I just couldn't share the same enthusiasm as the people in the video for this.

Here are our pizzas. When we were putting in our orders, we were so hungry so we asked if two small pizzas would be enough, and our waitress told us not to worry as their smalls are still pretty big. And she's right; these are the biggest "small" I've ever seen in my entire life (they were more like mediums). The pizzas were also really, really thick.

Beef on Weck Pizza - Tender slow roasted beef with tomatoes and horseradish sauce.

For those who don't know  what "Beef on Weck" is, here is the definition from Wikipedia:

"A beef on weck sandwich is a variety of steak sandwich found primarily in Western New York. It is made with roast beef on a kummelweck roll. The meat on the sandwich is traditionally served rare, thin cut, with the top bun getting a dip au jus. Accompaniments include horseradish, a dill pickle spear, and french fries."

I personally have not had a beef on weck sandwich before so I didn't know what to expect. I thought this pizza was...interesting. Actually, for the first few bites, I didn't really like it, but slowly it grew on me. I guess I wasn't used to the chunks of beef, tomatoes, and the horseradish sauce; the combination of all the ingredients were just a bit odd on a pizza and it took some time for me to get used to. Even my boyfriend who loves horseradish (mainly with his prime rib) thought this pizza tasted "funky" (which usually means "weird in a not-so-good way"). But like I said, it slowly grew on us. Since the taste was not bad, once you come to terms with it, it was actually okay.

One thing to note is the unique crust on this Beef on Weck pizza; it has kosher salt on the edge to imitate a kaiser roll. The crust itself is also thicker and crunchier than your normal pizza crust. I thought that part was really cool since Pizza Junction really tried to stay true to what a Beef on Weck sandwich was.

Pulled Pork Pizza - Slow cooked pork with an orange BBQ sauce.

This pizza was extremely, extremely good. It was phenomenal and I really mean it. It was not only thick but all that thickness was filled with juicy and tender pulled pork and BBQ sauce - the BBQ sauce was really tasty too; it was the sweet BBQ sauce, although I wouldn't have mind a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce either.

I'm lost for words. All you have to do is look at all that juicy pulled pork buried in that pizza and you will know what I mean.

The DDD episode also featured a third pizza: the Reuben Pizza, "slow cooked corned beef with sauerkraut with 1,000 island dressing". Although I wouldn't have mind that pizza, my boyfriend decided against it; either he didn't like the corned beef, saukerkraut, or the dressing, or all of the above... I don't remember. But I gotta admit the description didn't sound too appealing to me either compared to the other two pizzas. And besides, it would be too crazy ordering three pizzas for just the two of us.

The Damage.

We packed the leftovers and headed back to Toronto afterwards. I think my boyfriend had the pizzas the next day for lunch/dinner. He told me again that they were really good (even the Beef on Weck pizza).

I love the thickness of the pizzas at Pizza Junction and they were not even considered deep dish pizzas. Thin crust pizzas have a place in my heart of course (i.e. Pizzeria Libretto being my one of my favourite pizza place in Toronto) but there's also a special place in my heart for these thick stuffed pizzas (i.e. Mickey's Stuffed Steak and Cheese pizza). I guess my heart is evenly divided into two when it comes to pizzas =D

Well guys, this is the end of my DDD road trip journey! Contrary to how I thought I would be full for the next week or so from all this diner food that I consumed, my appetite was back to normal after a day or so. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since my stomach probably expanded quite a bit, which was evident as I also gained quite a few pounds >_< But well worth it, well worth it, I say.

My favourite things from the three DDD restaurants would have to be the Cattleman Burger from Grover's Bar & Grill and this Pulled Pork Pizza from Pizza Junction. I would take a road trip back to these two places in a heart beat! OK..maybe not in a "heartbeat" as gas prices are so high these days *sigh*

Thanks for reading!

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