06 Jun 2009 @ 4:43 AM 

The Omaha Critic and I (his oh so critical wife!) are always on the lookout for good pizza.  I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned it in these parts, but we have a large brood.  While the youngest isn’t quite up to chowing down on a good slice of pie yet, the rest are highly appreciative of any place that will serve them tasty melted cheese and pepperoni. 

Sadly, I will admit we find most of the major pizza chains lacking.  Sure, they will do in a pinch, and some of them have some fairly cheap deals that allow us to feed our gang without going broke, but they just serve pizza with no character. 

In hopes of finding pizza WITH character, the Critic and I went AWOL and tried Pudgy’s Pizza near 168th and Harrison.  We showed up around 7:30 on a Friday night to find the place busy, but with a table or two open. 

We grabbed a table, and I went up to the counter to place our order, which was for a 14″ Chicago Deep Dish with Pepperoni, Beef, Olives, and Mushrooms.  Yeah, The Critic is a purist and would have probably preferred straight up pepperoni or “The Works”, but *I* was the one ordering!  Had he noticed they served them, The Critic would also have liked to try their Chicago style hot dogs, but we will have to save that for another time.

The restaurant itself is unassuming.  The decor is obviously meant to bring Chicago to mind.  The joint itself isn’t fancy.  You order at the counter and get your own drinks.  But really?  You don’t need fancy in a pizza joint.  In a word, it’s comfortable.  Honestly, that’s perfect for a neighborhood pizza joint.

After a bit of a wait (it was Friday night, and they had a steady stream of business) our pizza was delivered to our table by the owner, along with paper plates, napkins, and plastic flatware.  Again, it’s unassuming.  But the pizza itself?  It was good.  The Omaha Critic and I have both spent some time in Chicago, and tried various pizza joints, including the famous Lou Malnotti’s.  I will say, it is not quite as deep, nor as saucy.  But it was still VERY good.  The crust was thick, but not doughy.  The toppings were plentiful and high quality.  They sprinkled the top with garlic salt or powder, which added a nice tang to the pizza.  All in all, it was a great pie. 

That character we were in search of?  It came in the form of Pudgy’s Pizza owner Phil “Pudgy” Cerra.   While it was our first time eating in the restaurant, we felt like we were somewhere we’d been many times before.  Pudgy stopped at our table several times to check on how we were doing, how the food was, and to make some suggestions for future visits based on how The Critic doctored his pizza (lots of red pepper!).  While this could be annoying if done by the wrong personality, it certainly wasn’t.  Pudgy is a very personable guy, and obviously has the drive it takes to make a great pizza joint work.

I can definitely say we’ll be going back, and taking our band of devils cherubs with us next time!

Plusses: The food itself – hearty, tasty, and plentiful.  The service – all of the employees were smiling and appeared to be having a great time!  We have to say the owner, Phil “Pudgy” Cerra was a big plus.  His personality brings a lot to the overall atmosphere of the place.  Also, the kitchen, which is visible from the counter where you order, is clean and appears to run very well.

Minuses:  They need a bigger location with more tables.  A jukebox would be nice (or some sort of music).  And if the pizza was about a half inch deeper, it would overtake any Chicago Deep Dish we’ve ever tried.

Overall Impression:  The pizza “friggin’ rocked” (The Omaha Critic’s exact words).  We were greatly impressed not only with the food, but with the owner’s great care and concern for all of his customers, and the great attention he paid to making sure everyone had a great experience.  If you’re in West Omaha, it’s definitely worth your time to get a great pizza.  Even if you’re not in West O?  It’s well worth the trek.  Pudgy’s Pizza.  Get some!

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 06 Jun 2009 @ 04:48 AM

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 31 May 2008 @ 2:41 AM 

I have decided that since my favorite barbeque caterer had opened a store front, I might as well do a review of his food. To be honest with you, I feel a little guilty for not going to his new establishment in Ralston. I met “The Meat Man” about 6 months ago when I started a new job here in Omaha. I was working through lunch, like I always do, and the head project manager came over and asked me if I had met “The Meat Man”. Well, obviously, since I just started, I hadn’t met him yet. So I wandered out into the lobby of our building to see what all the hubbub was.

During the work week, our company invites different businesses to come in and sell food in our lobby during the lunch. The vendors have to be here at 11AM and need to stay until 1:30PM. We’ve had Chinese, subs, pizza, and Mexican which have all been pretty good. Then? You have “The Meat Man”!

“The Meat Man” has been coming every Wednesday and Friday every week without fail for at least 6 months. Now, because of his storefront business opening and the desire of our employees for some variety, he’s now down to one day a week. It makes me sad, because now we have Godfather’s on “The Meat Man’s” Friday schedule. That was a major downer.

This is where this review gets complicated. I need to review this business, and I don’t know how to do it. I have yet to go to his storefront in Ralston, but I feel that his “q” is so damn good, that I have to say something about it. So I am ONLY going to review my interaction with him and his food.

The owner of Big Boy BBQ, has been coming to my location for 6 months. Each and every time I have spoken to him and ordered from him, he has been attentive, friendly and patient (for those people who just stand there looking at the menu that hardly changes). The area that he sets up in is always clean, the steam tables are running hot, and his cold items are kept in a large cooler that is clean and well chilled. When he cleans up for the day, his area is left just as he found it. I know this doesn’t sound like much, however there have been some vendors that have come in and the food is set on the floor, not stored properly, and one time (that I witnessed) “Blimpie” took the lid off their soup crock pot and set it food side down on the floor. I vowed never to eat “Blimpie” in the building again (which I did, and got violently ill). So… “Blimpie” as a reference, Big Boy BBQ is a freak’n school cafeteria (which always has A+ health ratings).

So I’ve had several meat combinations, from his ham, to the ribs, and even a jalapeno sausage. The end-all, be all, item that “The Meat Man” has? That’s the pulled pork. I typically get it without a bun and with cheesy potatoes. It’s $5.50 for all that. His spicy sauce is the perfect accompaniment to both the pork and the potatoes. The pork is smoked to perfection without being overpowering to the pallet. I honestly want to go back for seconds each and every time he’s here, but I feel foolish (so I don’t).

Pluses: Great food, great smoke level, everything I’ve had is juicy and flavorful. It’s a great deal for $5.50 and you get tons of food. Clean Clean Clean!!!!

Minuses: Needs pickles and onions on the table. Needs an “extra spicy”. Doesn’t sell sweet tea at the catering stop!

Overall Impression: I like this guy! I like “The Meat Man!!!” as my co-worker puts it: “He’ll give you lots of meat!” He takes the time to make it right and is proud of his work. He is also open to suggestions. Here is his MENU!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 31 May 2008 @ 02:41 AM

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 10 Dec 2007 @ 4:54 AM 

Well, I was pleasantly surprised yesterday with B & G Tasty Foods.  I was going to paint Christmas ornaments with the family, and we wanted to catch a quick bite before our ‘appointment’.  There were a few places in the strip mall where ‘That Pottery Place’ was and I had been to some of them (in different locations) but, I wanted to try something else that was local.  I had heard some bad things about B & G Tasty Foods, but being the adventurer that I am, I wanted to try it.

I dragged the family in and looked about.  There was a 50’s style diner sprawled out right before my eyes.  There were stools and a counter and classic pictures in the wall depicting things in Omaha history and some 50’s art.  My wife and I looked at each other and took a seat with the kids.  We were the only ones in there besides the guy at the counter and who was ever in back.  Being our first time in there, we expected the guy at the counter to come over and give us menus and take our order.  Instead of coming over, he just stood there staring at us.  We looked at him, he looked at us… Nothing was said.  Then my wife leans over and whispers to me that we should probably stroll up to the counter and get some menus, so she went up and got a few.

After perusing the menu, I realized that they didn’t have much: Burgers and the ‘BeeGees”, with fries, malts and shakes.  You could have different combinations of each, but the selection was limited.  I had the ‘T’ stacker, fries, and a root beer float, the kids had ‘BeeGees’ fries and float, and my wife had a ‘ham and cheese’ sandwich, fries and a soda.  We got our own ‘BeeGee’ with everything just to try it.  The food came rather quickly and we brought it to the table.  The girls mowed through their ‘BeeGees’ quickly, the boys not so much.  As for myself, I was presented with this triple cheeseburger.  The patties seemed pre-formed, but the flavor was fantastic.  I am a burger lover.  I adore a great burger, and believe it or not, was one of the best I had ever had.  The meat was seared on the outside and juicy and flavorful on the inside.  The patties were thin, and the cheese dripped from this thing like molton gold.  Wow.  I was really taken back  The fries?  They were ok… hot and crisp and super skinny.  They were nothing to blog about.  The root beer float, seemed to go with lunch perfectly.  All in all that was really good.  After I finished licking the paper tray that my burger came in (not really, it was just very good) my wife and I turned our attention to the ‘BeeGee’ to give it a whirl.  As far as my loose meat sandwich experience, this was my first.  It wasn’t bad.  I thought it a bit grainy, and needed a little salt.  I would give it a 3 on a 5 scale.  I would eat one happily again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.  The way to go really was the burger.  As we sat, ate and talked about what kind of paintings we were going to do, the place just seemed to fill up around us.  When we left, there were people just waiting in line for our seats.

So, B & G Tasty foods?  You do good work.  You must be doing something right.  Keep it up!  You have a new customer now.

Plusses: The Burger was good!  The root beer floats were tasty and the ‘BeeGees’ were tasty.
Minuses: Bubba behind the counter could tell people they need to order from the counter instead of staring at them.

Overall impression:  This has been an Omaha institution since 1956.  I would urge everyone in Omaha who likes burgers to give this place a whirl.  Oh, their sign makes me think of Jamaica or Brazil.  They really need a good Neon sign to reflect the places heritage. 

The Omaha Critic (Unexpected fan)

P.S. Hey Tom G. you were WRONG!  This place was great!

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 10 Dec 2007 @ 04:54 AM

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 22 Aug 2007 @ 4:52 AM 

Chipotle (176th and West Center) 

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I know that Taco Johns started the whole Taco Tuesday thing, but we as a family adopted it for Mexican night.  Tonight being Tuesday, we needed tacos.  So fighting West-O traffic, and rolling through a neighborhood to get to the turn.  We managed to come out on 168th street unscathed.  We boogied to our destination.  I pull up and walk in.  The kids began to meander at the start of the counter, not really knowing what they wanted.  I “encouraged them” to pick something.  They were very helpful to the kids and even compliment them on their manners.  We managed to get all our food and we sat down.  The shift manager was attentive and helpful, even offering to get us other things.  He cracked a few jokes, then he was gone.  I tore into my Carnitas Burrito with fervor… I was starving.  The meat was tender and juicy.  It had great flavor and was filling.  The Kids Tacos were scavenged quickly (save our rather fickle chainsaw).  We finished up and we were then again on our way. 

.

Overall impression: I like Chipotle.  I always have.  I have never had a bad experience in a Chipotle and the food is always consistent.  It is a solid choice for a burrito or Taco.  You will not be disappointed in their quality.  The Decor was modern Aztec.  It was interesting.  I have been coming to Chipotle since they have been in Omaha, and I love it.  For what they want it to be, it is.  Good, fast, fresh, creating a craving for some.

.

Plusses: Good and fast food, good after service and the store is typically spotless.  Special attention is paid to cleanliness.  I was well fed for the money. Minuses: THE CHAIRS HURT MY BUTT! and I would love someone coming around filling drinks. That’s a want more than anything. The chairs though… need a bigger butt-pad on them.  

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~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 22 Aug 2007 @ 04:56 AM

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