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Friday, May 14, 2010

Joey Mags, South Clinton

It's taken me a while, but I finally made it to Joey Mags, which opened some months ago on a stretch of South Clinton Avenue with a lot of food choices, including Shiki, India House, and Ming, among others.

Joey Mags is something of a combination deli/pizzeria, with a cold-cuts counter in front and pizza ovens in back. When it opened, it was also serving barbecue, and while there are still ribs on the menu, the smoker that used to be out front was not there on my visit. Had I noticed it at the time, I would've asked about it, but I didn't see any signs of outdoor, wood-burning barbecue going on. It may be just as well, since barbecue takes a long time and continual attention to do properly. Perhaps they decided to concentrate on the pizza and deli part of the operation, I'm not really sure.
Anyway - I was a bit surprised to find out that Joey Mags' pizzas only come in one size, large. Kind of odd, but OK, I can live with that. I got a half cheese, half pepperoni, as well as a small order of wings.
Speaking of which, another idiosyncrasy here is that unless you request otherwise, your wings will be cooked "whole" - in other words, the "drumstick," "flat," and tip in one piece. According to the owner, this results in a juicier wing, but I didn't learn that until after I'd ordered mine split, so I can't verify that. It makes some sense, though, I guess, since the juices would have fewer holes to escape from.
My pizza had a thin crust, which got a little thicker toward the edge. The dough hadn't risen much, and the crust didn't have much of an interior; it was a bit dense or gummy in texture, with a chewy texture. The underside was firm but not crisp, browned, but not greasy.
There wasn't much sauce on this pizza. A peek under the cheese revealed a few pockets here and there, in the folds of the dough, but not much. I did notice a pronounced flavor and aroma of herbs and, I think, garlic powder.
There was a fairly large amount of cheese, particularly relative to the sauce. The cheese was well browned. The pepperoni slices were just a bit crisp along the edge, with some spiciness.
As I said, I also got wings. They were pretty spicy for "mild" wings, and were coated with a rather unusual looking, almost pink sauce. It also had a distinctive flavor that I couldn't pin down, not really classic Buffalo sauce, but not bad either.
Besides pizza and wings, there are plenty of sandwich fillings to choose from, and a few other items - the aformentioned ribs (cooked indoors, I presume) among them.
There are a few tables, but not as much seating as you might think from the outside. One of the most interesting features of the interior, for me, was the bust atop the deli counter, of a bald but unidentified man. Perhaps some customer will eventually recognize who the subject was. Service was good, and if the owner is there when you visit, you'll find him friendly and conversational.
The pizza, alas, didn't thrill me. I'm not saying it was bad, but for my taste, there were a few issues:  it seemed a bit out of balance due to the relative paucity of the sauce; the crust could've been crisper underneath, and didn't have a very airy interior; and the garlic-powder aroma put me off a bit as well.
That said, it had some things going for it. If not crisp, the crust was at least not greasy, the cheese was OK, and garlic powder aside, the overall flavor was decent. In other words, this was an average pizza. So I'll give it an average grade, a C.
Joey Mags,1026 S. Clinton Ave. 442-2270

Daily: 4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Pizza Guy note, 12/3/10:  Joey Mag's has closed.

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