A guilt-ridden Chow, Baby decided to tackle its “Places Readers Have Generously Alerted Me to, and I’ve Written Them Back with ‘Thanks a Lot, I’ll Definitely Go Next Time I’m in the Area,’ but Then Something Else Always Comes Up” list. Some of the entries are three years old. Many of the restaurants have long ago gone out of business.
Not Nizza Pizza (1430 S. Cooper St. at Park Row Av., Arlington), which at 2 p.m. on a weekday was jam-packed with students from Arlington High and UTA scarfing up incredible lunch specials: 12-inch parmigiana subs, $5.95; freshmade-pasta dishes, $6.95; and most popular, two huge slices and fountain drink for $3.95. Chow, Baby’s heartwarming spaghetti with sausage, one of two dozen pasta options (yes, choosing was crazy-making), had a thick sweet tomato sauce and plenty of chunks of good Italian sausage. The housemade red Italian dressing on the salad was a sprightly delight, and the knobs of garlic bread were a present when it’s not your birthday. Icing on the cake: staffers razzing one another in Jersey, Queens, and Bronx accents, like a Beastie Boys reunion.
Nizza plans to start delivery early next year; until then, Chow, Baby or an exploitable helpmate will have to haul home its current pizza faves: the fork-and-knife-required Nizza’s Meat Lovers’ Stuffed Pizza (large $23.95) and the chicken pesto (medium $13.45) with a garlicky dough that’s thin yet chewy. Both are hand-tossed, with plenty of fillings/toppings and great sauce; in very different ways, both are utterly delicious. Hat tips to, let’s see, “Bobbie J.,” “pppvr1984,” and any other reader-recommenders whose names or tags have been lost in the mists of time.
The next long-ago-reader-recommended place was long dark. The guilt! Maybe it was the greatest restaurant in the world, but nobody knew about it, and if Chow, Baby had just spread the word when there was still time … . Oh, well. At least Chow, Baby was smart enough to bring the list along. Let’s see, we’re on Camp Bowie anyway … ah, Wan Fu (6399 Camp Bowie Blvd.). On the list since June 2005. Let’s go save that one!
On later thought, let’s not. Most of the reader-recommenders compared Wan Fu favorably with Szechuan Chinese Restaurant up the street on Locke – “favorably” indicated by lots of exclamation points, as in “Don’t go to Szechuan!!! Go to Wan Fu!!!” – but Chow, Baby begs to differ!!! Wan Fu’s lunch specials ($5.25-6.50) looked great at first glance; dishes like kung pao cabbage and Szechuan-style string beans almost made Chow, Baby wish it were vegetarian. But the sesame chicken was mushy, the gloppy-sauced River Shiang pork didn’t deserve its hot-and-spicy star, the lemon chicken was way over-breaded (but at least its sauce wasn’t American-sweet), and the mu shu pork ($5.25) was yummy in the way that anything is yummy if you put enough hoisin sauce on it.
But there is kind of a bright side: Even if, for the most part, Wan Fu’s dishes are buffet quality, at least the price is in keeping, and the room is quiet and pretty, and the tablecloths and silverware are real, and every once in a long while a diffident server floats by to check on you. Still, Chow, Baby likes Szechuan much better. No hat tips for anybody. But keep those recommendations coming – Chow, Baby’s 2010 calendar is wide open.
Contact Chow, Baby at firstname.lastname@example.org.