Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Jim & Ralph's, Elmgrove Road
I've long been aware of Jim & Ralph’s, but I never thought of it as a place for pizza; I always thought it was "just" a diner.
And until recently, that's all it was. But somewhere or other I ran across a reference to it serving pizza. And yes, its website confirmed that. J&R has also moved into a brand-new building on Elmgrove, just off 531. Previously they were is a rather shabby looking little strip mall on Buffalo Road, I believe, and I could swear a long time ago they were downtown, though I could be wrong about that.
Anyway, I stopped in recently for a couple of slices. They had a thin to medium crust, the underside of which showed screen marks, but was also rather charred, and well dusted with flour. The crust had bubbled up here and there as well. It had a reasonably good bready flavor and texture, which was particularly apparent toward the edge.
Both slices had a noticeable garlicky flavor that seemed to me more like garlic powder than fresh garlic. The sauce was moderately applied and had a pretty straightforward, uncomplicated flavor of tomatoes, with some herbs in the background. The mozzarella was a little browned, and had a bit of lactic tanginess to it. The cup'n' char pepperoni was crisp and spicy.
Jim & Ralph's has quite a long list of pizza toppings, including five types of cheese, as well as all the usual selections from the animal and vegetable kingdoms. The menu indicates that pizza is available with regular or "NYC Thin Crust." I would guess that my slices fell into the latter category (although I wouldn't call it truly authentic NY style pizza); if this was the regular crust, then the "NYC thin" crust must be exceptionally thin.
As I mentioned, pizza is a relatively new addition to Jim & Ralph's menu, and they still serve all the old standbys, with "ground rounds," and a wide array of other grilled sandwiches too. They also offer wings, subs, salads, wraps, and sides, as well as more substantial daily specials, like a T-bone or N.Y. strip steak dinner on Tuesdays and a chicken and rib combo on Wednesdays. You can also get frozen custard and milkshakes, and according to the menu, they plan to start serving beer sometime soon. It's counter service, but there is ample seating, in a more or less fast-food-place kind of atmosphere.
This pizza was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting much from a place that made its reputation as a burgers-'n'-hots kind of place. But this had a nice toastiness in the surprisingly bready crust, was well balanced, and had an all-around good flavor. If that was garlic powder I tasted, they could've laid off that a bit, and I could get nitpicky and suggest that they take care to watch the bubbling in the crust. And while the screen-baked crust wasn't bad, neither did it achieve the sublime combination of crispness and suppleness that is the hallmark (to me) of truly top-notch pizza.
But those are relatively minor points. All in all, this was pretty good stuff, that I think warrants a return visit sometime for a full pie. For now, I'm giving it a B.
Jim & Ralph's, 904 Elmgrove Rd. 247-7220
Open daily 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. (hours not confirmed yet)
Pizza Guy note: read a July 6, 2010 update here.