Friday, June 22, 2007

Junior's Long Island Pizza

Ok, it's not a barbeque joint, but it's a new restaurant that is definitely worth a try if you're in Durham.

Junior's is located at 3019 Auto Drive, off Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. It's in the space that was Damon's then the Varsity Ale House. It has the same owners -- the people that are behind Spartacus. I've been a regular at Spartacus since they opened, so when one of the owners told me about an authentic New York place with pizza, subs, burgers, and steaks I was pretty excited. As a point of disclosure, I have no personal or business affiliation with any of those establishments. I'm just a loyal customer.

The TVs and sports bar layout is the same as when it was the Varsity Ale House. This would be a great place to watch a game. I wonder if they'll have the buffet for the ACC Tournament?

My wife and I tried the pizza buffet for lunch today. This is hands down the very best pizza buffet anywhere in the Triangle. Think Randy's Pizza, but with a buffet. It's the 495 Buffet, after I-495 in NY, and of course the cost is a mere $4.95. Of course the quality of the pie isn't as good as one of Randy's right out of the oven, but for buffet pizza this is as good as it gets.

These pizzas taste as though they're cooked on a stone instead of in a pan, which is as it should be. Manhattan pizza lovers might object that it's not cooked in an olive oil smeared pan, but that's the way they do it on Long Island.

The salad bar is quite good for a pizza buffet. If you like the salad bar at Spartacus, you'll recognize a number of the items. The wonderful greek dressing anchors the salad bar. Everything was very fresh and turnover seems high.

They have just about every topping on a pizza you can imagine. Old standbys like Pepperoni and Sausage / Sausage and Mushroom were excellent, as well as plain cheese, vegetable, etc. We were stuffed by the time the started bringing out more exotic pies such as what appeared to be barbeque chicken. They had both traditional thin crust and Sicilian. The three cheese pizza was the best. The Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Ricotta blend together wonderfully.

The slices past the drip test. You can hold a slice of pepperoni and sausage by the crust vertically and grease does not run onto the plate. The pizza is not at all greasy -- a vital component of good pizza that many places miss.

I can't wait to get back to this place and try the rest of the menu. I can't imagine why anyone would ever go to Cici's or Pizza Inn for lunch now that this is open. And it looks very promising as a dinner destination when you want to watch the game and have some good eats.

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