What a lucky break for Chow, Baby: Just as it dropped the last few pizza pounds from May’s Chicago research trip, a reader insisted on a visit to newly arrived Little Joe’s Famous Chicago Pizza & Restaurant (104 Navajo Dr., Keller).

Even better, Little Joe’s is in a part of the Metroplex that is usually prefixed with “way the hell up in.” So if Chow, Baby calls just as it leaves the house, by the time it gets to the restaurant, a fantastic deep-dish pizza (medium starts at $9.95), with a very thick, bread-like dough, handfuls of meat and veggies, and caramelized cheese on top, will be … almost halfway done. Right – this is one of those 60-minute babies. Silly Chow, Baby.

But ordering ahead was for naught, anyway: When we finally found Little Joe’s (it’s hidden behind a Fina) and had a look at the menu, Chow, Baby was informed by its sweetie that it had called in the wrong pie. What “we” wanted, it seems, was the stuffed pizza (medium starts at $10.95). This is basically just a deep-dish pizza covered with another layer of dough, with the rich, thick pizza sauce ladled on top of this layer instead of on the bottom layer – crucial distinctions to Chicagoans. No problem! Add it on the bill and set the cooking clock for another hour; Chow, Baby was perfectly happy to stick around Little Joe’s and try out the wide, family-friendly menu of Italian dishes, steaks, seafood, and sandwiches.

The housemade, fennel-packed sausage is outstanding, punching up the authentic-Italian-style sautéed sausage and peppers ($10.75) and the authentic-Chicago-style Italian beef and sausage sandwich ($5.25). Main dishes are not too adventurous but are fresh and good, particularly the lightly breaded, delicately sautéed chicken Marsala ($12.25) and the subtle garlic and oil moistening the shrimp, mushroom slices, and broccoli spears of the linguine alla Don Abby ($12.95). For dessert (over the next several days): those fantastic pies, and it’s a good thing they’re as monster heavy as they are delicious. To work off the new pizza poundage, Chow, Baby needs all the exercise it can get.


That’s Queen Baby to You

In the throes of its first restaurant-related crush in at least two weeks, Chow, Baby, racial-profiling like crazy, was doodling “HRH Vajiralongkorn-Baby” on its menu. Well, excuse Chow, Baby if the owner/manager of Nipa’s Kitchen (4900 Broadway Ave., Haltom City) is the spitting image of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand, a resemblance enhanced by the smiling delivery of plate after plate of Thai goodies. Thai dumplings ($5), here done as deep-fried triangles of mushed curried veggies, led to green papaya salad ($5), which was ordered “Thai style” for extra-hot but didn’t come out that way – Chow, Baby ate its share with just one glass of water. A hot-and-sour soup ($8.95) had much more oomph and lots of pretty shrimp, too. Pad kaprow ($6.95) – Chow, Baby just loves Thai-dish names; that one’s up there with “larb” and “yum” – is a nice stir-fry with sautéed basil leaves.

Nipa’s Kitchen has been a Haltom City staple for some 13 years; Andy Boone – for that turned out to be the exotic owner’s disappointingly nonexotic name – bought it in 2000 and has filled out the menu with hot pots, noodle and rice dishes, and Chow, Baby’s favorite Thai dessert, black-rice pudding ($2). There’s lots to like about Nipa’s Kitchen and its owner; too bad HRH Boone-Baby has no kaprow at all.

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