There I am on a sunny Tuesday evening, walking my bike down Colfax, confidently, competently checking out the restaurants I've been to, feeling really overly proud of myself, and lo and behold, there is Joey's Pizza, right in between CityGrille and Wolfe's. Curses! I missed one! Perhaps I'm making a bigger deal than I should about going in strict addressical order, but part of the fun is not knowing what comes next, not having expectations, going with the Colfax flow. And I've totally blown it. I didn't even know it was there! Well it's not like I'm going to get fired for it.
So the following week I go to Joey's as soon as I can, feeling like my omission of it, or rather just delay, will somehow taint my experience (they know and they will spit in my food) so I am therefore putting all the faith in the world in Joey's to be the paragon of eatcolfax experiences (thus far). Maybe that's an exaggeration, but I was alone this time, and hence prone to the wilds of my imagination as there was no one with me to temper it. Not to mention it was also apres-wine and tequila tasting, but before "dinner", so I was amped and hungry and excited for some bread-meat-tomato combo to soak it up and tide me over.
It’s the Italian mirror image of Wolfe’s, which makes sense, sharing a wall, a block, clientele, but mostly a certain sense of neighborly service, sharing the same funcion for the same people in the same price range. The walls are all sports banners and posters from New York, the Yankees, Mets, Brooklyn Bridge at twilight. Suddenly I’m disappointed I didn’t bring along an NY transplant for company and commentary. Middle-aged toothy blond guy greets me at the register with the most genuine smile I have seen on Colfax, he called me “dear” and he was so friendly looking I could have offered to be his nanny or something even though I’m not a kid person, this is the effect he had on me. Like this guy should totally play Santa Claus when he’s of that age. I give the smile right back, somewhat distracted by the slices of pizza behind the glass, suddenly self-conscious of not having any clue what I should get, I mean it’s Joey’s New York Pizza! and I should get a slice but they look kinda dry and like I said, I want this experience to be a good one. The menu is on a chalkboard to my right, kinda high up, it’s pretty simple and standard: pizza toppings, the calzone, the salad, 2 spaghettis, 1 baked ziti, desserts. When it comes to pizza I am the new-age hippie veggie-lover that I am sure New Yorkers loathe. Well hey, I like vegetables. On my pizza. My ideal pizza has broccoli on it, I’m serious. (May I give a quick shout-out to the Pizza Research Institute in Eugene, Oregon). So here’s the toppings: pepperoni, onions, meatballs (not ground beef mind you), mushrooms, black olives, tomatoes, ham, green peppers, sausage, jalapenos. That last one is a surprise, but it’s the Southwest/wild-west Denver so they have to adapt I guess, appease the locals. Anyway pizza just isn’t doing it for me at the moment and then my eyes fall on something that looks just right, a sausage roll. What’s the sausage roll I ask, even though I already know, I just want him to explain it so I can hear him talk in his accent and be all friendly and uncle-like. It’s like a pig-in-a-blanket with sausage and green peppers and onions, it takes 12 minutes. Aww, I really like this guy now, warning me it takes 12 minutes and thinking that that will deter me. Great! I gleam. There’s nothing more I would like than to wait 12 minutes for a delicous sausage roll made fresh, enough time to think and write and soak in the surroundings. A soda too, in a 20oz styrofoam cup. ah well.
Sitting at the table, black and white vinyl tablecloth, again the New York pizza joint version of Wolfe’s. Oh and there it is, the din I heard when I walked in now becoming recognizable as a TV in the corner. It’s the local news, being all dramatic and panic-y, let’s scare the masses with “Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts!” and “Children’s meds recall!” and “John Hickenlooper: raising taxes and loosing jobs!” . I heard about that recall on NPR and let me tell you it really does sound more ominous on the TV news, especially a right-leaning TV news. Fortunately for me Jeopardy! starts next, but I’m kind of appalled by how much that staple of my childhood has changed. Okay so it’s Star Jeopardy! but still. At least Alex Trebec is hanging on and it’s just as exciting and engaging, engaging in that way that no matter what your age or demographic you’re still gonna be shouting at the TV, asking those question-answers. We all think we could be on Jeopardy!, right?
11 and a half minutes later my sausage roll arrives, on a standard dingy cream and olive color ringed diner plate and marinara in a plastic ramekin with lid on. The propensity for to-go flat- and silverware has surprised me on this project so far. Is it that dishes break and you have to wash them? Can it really be cheaper in the long run? Anyway, I dive right in to the roll, the dough is buttery bubbly crispy and herbed, the best part of the roll actually. More Italian bread than pizza dough. The sausage is standard, neither spicy nor bland. The least good part is the green peppers and onions, they are chopped up small and taste like they’ve been in the fridge too long, definitely not bursting with freshness or even sauteed and was I not perhaps expecting them to be in one long strip, cradling the sausage in veggie juice and spice? The plastic-encased sauce did not last as long as the roll. Overall though, quite satisfying.
Somewhere in the midst of this I make a trip to the bathroom to relieve my wine and tequila and sprite-laden bladder. What a bathroom! This is my favorite part:
Yeah I really like that. It’s so, thoughtful, in a way. Like they were really proud of themselves for thinking of it, hey we have this random hook let’s put it in the wall for the ladies!, instead of buying a proper coat hook. And it’s a unisex bathroom, by that I mean not only is it the only bathroom in the place, but it has both toilet and urinal. Maybe it’s a New York thing. I’m not used to seeing urinals. There is a bird’s-eye-view map of Denver circa 1980, and a full-length mirror, next to the toilet, which makes me laugh and of course I have to take some mirror self-shots, omitted here.