My friends and I are having a get together, and we're craving for pizzas. Where do you think should we eat? We're a group of 5, and we'd like something affordable. Around P200+ per person, I guess?
It's not unusual to get queries like this from friends and acquaintances. Well, no, not really in letter form ala Joe D'Mango consultations, but I bet if I'd put a Q and A column or something, I'd get questions like this.
Most of the time, I'm ready with answers. But then, not everyone is like me who'd go all the way to a far-flung food district, or cross cities just to have a taste of that diet-thwarting cake. Some people would just like to have a good dinner without the hassles of seeking the hole in the wall joints. Some come in big groups that aren't thrilled to hear about an awesome resto that only seats 10 people at the most. Some are impulse eaters (Hey, m hir in Mega. Craving 4 burgr. Wer 2?Ü). Some frown upon a bill that costs more than P500. And to these people, I find myself stumped.
To cut it short, repetitive questions concerning an affordable, accessible barkada get-togethers made me want to write about restaurants which are far from being secret or multi-awarded, but are nonetheless good. I figured that these restaurants I dine-in when I'm in the malls yet I never really bothered writing about (just because), deserve some spotlight. After all, these are the places I, and maybe even you, get to dine-in every so often.
So for today, it's Joey Pepperoni's turn. Yep, that Joey Pepperoni you always see in the malls yet you've never really checked out. It might interest you to know that the executive chef who made the menu of Joey Pepperoni is Chef Giorgio A. Bucciarelli, the same man behind the success of Don Bosco Pizza, Pasta, Gelato. With over twenty branches now, it's not hard to find a branch near you.
Say, you are a group of seven people, here's a guide on what to order in Joey Pepperoni. For around P300 per person, you guys can stuff yourselves silly with 3 12" pizzas, 4 pastas, and 2 rice meals. Good deal, huh?
Their best-seller, Joey Pepperoni (P165 for 8", P325 for 12") does not carry the name of the resto for nothing. Its moderately bubbly thin crust, though not as stretchy as my ideals, shows quality. The crust provides just the right amount of support to the real star: the generous Pepperoni toppings. With neither too scant, nor too strong-tasting mesh of pepperoni and cheese, I can say that they have found the perfect balance in this pizza. Unlike pizzas of the same price, which are either too spongy, too dry, or too oily, the Joey Pepperoni approximates the kind of pizza Amici fans love.
Also worth ordering is The Works (P170- 8", P345 -12"). Bluntly, there is nothing spectacular added in this pizza. But it's definitely not a throw away. Make anyone paint a picture of a pizza, and I'm sure they'll be painting something like The Works. You know, with green and red bell pepper, onions, black olives, ham, mushrooms and "the works." But personally, it's never tiring to order a pizza as traditional as The Works. An everything-on-it-pizza is a staple order for me and my friends whenever we dine Italian, just like how we tend to order miso soup whenever we dine Japanese-- just because.
As opposed to the very traditional The Works pizza, I have yet to find another resto that serves a tortellone like what Joey Pepperoni serves. Tortellone al Formaggi (P320) is a giant tortellone (usually palm-sized) that is too pretty to the eyes that it becomes too depressing to cut up and mess with. Technically, Tortellone is a pasta-- a stuffed one that is. But in Joey Pepperoni, it's classified under pizzas because the fillings are stuffed in crusts designed as turnover pies. This one becomes interesting to slice as soon as you get over the initial struggle of figuring out where to start. Pull the piece from the whole and there's no stopping the cheese from lengthening. Weirdly, it reminded me of the joy of pulling the film out of the cassette tape. Oh what joy!
Tortellone al Formaggi
Just because of that, this easily became a favorite item in Joey Pepperoni. It pretty much tastes like Carbonara, only with the chewy taste of crust in place of the al dente pasta. And oh, you have to order this with something else since the cream taste overpowers that of the cheese.
All pastas from Joey Pepperoni are generally okay. Like the pizzas, one would note of the quality of the dish. I find myself favoring the Pasta Gamberi (P198) among the others though. I appreciate how generous they are with the gamberi (notably fresh, by the way) unlike in many other places that scrimp the shrimps. The Lasagne alla Bolognese (P178) is a favorite of a friend, therefore, also one of the staples. I, however, find it a tad too sweet for my liking. The Carbonara (P165) always pleases. I wouldn't say that it's mind-blowing but there's no denying that this is a decent take on the classic. Lastly, the Chicken Parmigiana (P228), which is a good pick, especially for the really hungry, has the same sauce as the Gamberi; only, there's the pleasant addition of a big piece of chicken breast on top. Not only does it add variety, it further stresses the sulit factor.
If the Gamberi is my favorite among the pastas, the Pollo al Rosmarino con Riso (P175) is my number 1 choice if I were to pick a rice meal. The herbed thigh piece alone is good, especially with the strong essence of lemon. How can one go wrong anyway with minty Rosemary plus lemon on chicken? But it is not until you pour the garlicky, and lemony gravy that the wow factor doubles.
Pollo al Rosmarino con Riso
Pork lovers on the other hand would appreciate the Maiale Con Riso (P155), which is simply roast pork and rice. Anything of the liempo variety is a crowd pleaser. This one is no exception.
Maiale Con Riso
All those orders for a little over two thousand Pesos ain't bad at all. The bill will even be lower if you guys avail their Buy 1 Take 1 8" Pepperoni pizza for only P199 (valid until December 31). Two to three light eaters, yuppies I was informed) usually feast on that promo. They also have set meals that doesn't go over P170. Can anyone else spell affordable more clearly?
I hope this one answered your question where to head for next when craving for quality pizzas, with accessible branches, and affordable prices. Buon Appetito!