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Location: 713 E. Jefferson Blvd
You really shouldn’t read this blog about Barnaby’s. It’s kinda cheating.
The right way to experience this family-dining-meets-sports-bar pizzeria for the first time is with friends who know the ropes. That’s the charm of Barnaby’s - not only is it the best pizza in town (you heard me, George!), it’s a quirky place that you kinda have to, I dunno, discover? So the next time you have a chance to cast a vote for a group dinner destination, steer your [soccer team/church group/burlesque troupe/merry band of ruffians] toward this spot just around the corner from East Race or Howard Park, and let one of them be your pizza sherpa. Bring a hearty appetite and a sense of adventure.
Still reading? Ok, it’s you and me, Magellan. Here’s what you need to know.
Right in the door, your first order of business should be getting your pizza into the oven. There’s no hostess to slow you down, so make a beeline for the order-taking cashiers in back. They’re right next to the open kitchen, where a pretty amazing display of fast-paced dough tossing and pizza peeling is sure to distract you. Focus.
(Photo courtesy http://www.barnabys-pizza.com/)
What to order? My advice: skip the small. Get a large and take the leftovers home. Otherwise, let your pizza flag fly. Half zucchini, spinach and pineapple, half meat with more meat? Do. it. Rather have a burger and fries or an Italian sausage sandwich? They have that. Grilled chicken with pesto on ciabatta? Done. Don’t forget to ponder the mozzarella sticks, salads, breaded mushrooms, or cheesy garlic bread. I ponder them often.
OK, now that you’ve got your ticket stubs with your order numbers, you can pause and take it all in. Getting the lay of this land is another moment of discovery. The place is huge, and usually packed. The seventies-era design is dark with tons of heavy wood -- think ‘below deck on a pirate ship’ -- but still kinda groovy. Almost every booth, whether a two- or four-seater, is adjacent to another booth across a waist-high divider. If you don’t already know the people sitting there, you might soon. It’s a lot like the family-sized tables at Fiddler’s Hearth, but with less obligation to be social. Stake your claim.
Our pre-pizza spread. Happy campers already.
But don’t set up camp just yet -- you still need to place your drink order. Yes, there’s a separate cashier for that. But it’s all good when you discover the bar and the beer menu behind it: just $2.50 for large drafts and $7.80 for domestic pitchers, with craft bottles or drafts for a little more. There’s also a selection of wines in addition to the standard tea and soft drinks.
Pepperoni, onion, and green peppers for the two of us. Small, this time.
With drinks in hand, now you can get settled and listen for your numbers to be called. Don’t worry, your food will be worth the wait: about 30 minutes for pizza, less for sandwiches and appetizers. Hey, carving Mount Rushmore took fourteen years! If the beer and conversation with new/old friends isn’t entertaining enough, watching a game or two on a handful of unobtrusively-placed TV screens can fill in the gaps. (And here’s an insider tip to impress your friends: you can phone in your order before you arrive!)
And when your number is called... when you do make that jog, ticket stub in hand, back to the pickup window where your gorgeous, fresh, hotter-than-a-cup-of-frivolous-lawsuit-coffee pizza is waiting… you’ll have one last challenge: making it back to your table without rustling a piece right there.
Barnaby’s pizza is the best of the thin-crust variety I’ve had in a long time. The crust is just crispy enough to crunch, and the toppings are piled high. Best of all, the pizza is perfect for sharing, as each one is cut “tavern style” -- into squares, not wedges -- so the center pieces are crustless. And I’m serious about it being hot -- don’t be that person licking the roof of your mouth the whole ride home.
Last step? There really isn’t one… just relax and stay awhile. There are no servers to drop the check and hustle you out. Barnaby’s is a great spot for date night conversation, a family dinner, or a team celebration after the game… and now you’re the one who knows the ropes. Enjoy!
Your Challenge: Visit Barnaby's this week for lunch or dinner. Take a photo of your favorite piece of decor, your food, or a selfie, and post the photo on facebook, twitter, or instragram. Be sure to tag DTSB and use #eatDTSB.