#260: BOSS. Pizza + Wings

12:30PM, 10/2/2021


I picked this place out earlier in the week and I’ve been gradually more excited about the day as it came up. I didn’t know much about this place other than it seems to be a ghost kitchen. They don’t have any storefront and looked like they might be operating from John’s Incredible Pizza. I recall seeing a positive mention on Reddit or social media a month or so ago. I finally visited the website today to figure out what my ordering options were as far as in-store, on a website or on an app. They are available by phone, the website or through a variety of the usual food delivery apps. There are 6 locations total, scattered throughout CA with a couple in NV.

Once I got to the website I was intrigued by the “Cali-Detroit” style pizza they were talking up. Besides Little Caesars (I guess you can call it pizza) I’ve only had one Detroit-style pizza I can recall (found a photo of it, below) from a place on K St in downtown Sac called Pizza Rock, now closed. It was phenomenal. Anyway this sort of piqued my interest and I was off to place an order.

(Detroit Red Top from the now closed Pizza Rock in Sacramento)

It’s a nice clean site and easy to get to the menu. I hate when sites make you start an order to look at the menu…oh and you want to start an order? Now you need an account. Not here, very straightforward. That said, I did need to start an order to see the pricing, but they still didn’t require an account at all, even through checkout. They did ask for an email address. I’m not sure why since they didn’t email me an order confirmation or any receipt.

I wanted to get a half and half with something simple and something more unique to this place (they talk about their bacon here and there: BOSS Bacon – Thick sliced hickory smoked bacon, caramelized with pepper flecks for an extra kick). Unfortunately half/half is not an option so I went all in with a standard combo (The Works – All the goods: pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and olives.)[$16.99]. I also wanted to get some wings, and the most economical way to do that allowed me to also try the Vampire Tots from the sides. I grabbed the 6pc wing combo, bone-in, half with lemon pepper flavor and half with sweet chili. It comes with a choice of fries or tots, including the jazzed-up Vampire tots (Vampire Tots Tots seasoned with garlic and Parmesan cheese with choice of ketchup or spicy ketchup.) as well as a soft drink [Total combo = $11.99].

I finished placing my order at 12:30PM and had a pickup time of 12:58PM. This is where things started to go sideways. I had placed the order using my desktop computer. The order confirmation page was clearly intended for a mobile screen, all scrunched down to a narrow column. On it was a button that you tap to check-in once you’re parked in their curbside parking spaces. Obviously I couldn’t click this button from a couple miles away (there is a phone number you can alternatively call when you arrive too), but I made it happen with remote desktop from my phone, just to play this out as intended.

(A lonely a-frame outside a red door is the only indication that you are in the right place)

I arrived and checked in at 12:59, entering information about the make/model/color of my car and putting the hazards on as instructed. After watching the steady stream of people going in and out of both John’s and Rockin’ Jump for a while, I gave the number a call at 1:15. This was a slightly jarring call because initially I was met by a robot that told me it was connecting me. Ok. Then a woman answered for John’s Incredible Pizza. I let her know I was here for BOSS Pizza curbside pickup and she put me on hold to check, then came back in less than 30 seconds saying it would be out in “a sec”. Back to waiting and watching, another 15 min went by and I called back at 1:36. This was basically the same phone call except it was a different woman and the time given was “8 minutes”.

I considered going in at some point but having peeked inside the red door when I arrived, to see what it looked like, I would have had no idea where to go to ask about it. Literally the only place you will see their logo is on that A-frame sign out front. It’s just John’s Incredible Chaos and a mass of kids beyond the door. To the second woman’s credit, her estimate was pretty close, although still a couple minutes short. At 1:47 someone brought my order out to the car, mentioned that utensils were in the bag (brief aside, what utensils would you expect to receive with pizza, wings and tots? There were none in the bag of course, just a straw) and that was that.

I brought it home and opened the box to reveal a heavy rectangular pie, about 9×13″. It was not as enticing as the website showed. What should have been a crisp, buttery crust was limp and clearly underdone. The toppings were all there, in addition to what looked a lot like Round Table’s fire roasted tomatoes, which was not as advertised.

This was a big disappointment. It was not very hot and ended up being a dense block of bread, cheese and greasy toppings that wanted to all roll off the slice the second you looked at them wrong. The toppings themselves, particularly the veggies and mushrooms were actually ok. The meats were not particularly notable. Although the cheese was well melted, it had long since solidified. I think this was made sometime after my first call and left to sit under a heat lamp while the wing combo were forgotten and then rushed after call #2. I am typing this the next morning and having thrown a couple slices into the oven (450º for about 11 min) for a balanced breakfast and I can say that this gave it some new life with a nice, crisp crust and actual, thermal-heat. Even that didn’t elevate it beyond anything very ordinary, unfortunately.

The pizza has some potential. Unfortunately it was fumbled and lost deep in a ball pit somewhere in that giant Chuck E. Cheese competitor. At it’s best I think it would only rank among the most average pizza we have available in Roseville.

The Vampire tots didn’t look like they had any garlic or Parmesan on them. They did have a bit of a garlic taste though. They were still relatively crisp and mostly warm. I had picked out the spicy ketchup to go with these, out of curiosity, but I think I was given regular ketchup because I got no spice whatsoever from it. I set it aside after dipping four or five tots. They were totally…fine.

Digging into the wings, one of the stars of this order (not that it says much) were the lemon pepper flavored wings. This was supposed to be an order of 6. They were pretty tiny little guys and I like to think I received 10 wings because the people making them also acknowledged this fact, but it’s just as likely to have been an error. That said, the lemon pepper was very strong. Bright lemon cut with the bite of a heavy dose of black pepper. These felt a little overcooked, though the chicken was still reasonably moist within.

Last but not least were the sweet chili wings. These were drenched in a dark, syrupy sauce. Unfortunately I can’t tell you how these tasted because they didn’t taste like anything. It was quite the mind-warp. They really looked like they would have a rich, sweet and/or spiciness to them. It was just nothing.

This was a bit of a roller coaster from when I first heard of them, to the concept of a Cali-Detroit style pie, through the long wait, non-existent customer service and overall disappointing food. I can’t see myself ever returning. The 1.5 rating is mostly held up by the strong lemon pepper flavor, the OK tots and that re-heating the pizza stepped it up a bit.


#202 & 203: Colorado Grill & Deli Delicious (Guest Starring Final Gravity)

I had intended to write this up yesterday but the pool was calling my name.  Recently we had a couple new openings.  These were interesting to me at first because for some time I had seen that they were going into the same shopping center at Eureka and Sierra College and were both Fresno-based businesses.  It seemed like a hell of a coincidence at the time.  Now that I’ve been there it makes some more sense.  These two places are Colorado Grill and Deli Delicious.

When I pulled up last week to see if they were open yet, and see what they looked like, I was surprised to find both logos over one door.  In a somewhat unique setup, both share the same suite in this oddly chosen shopping center.  I thought this was a weird location for both Swagat as well as La Huaca, though the latter has proven able to survive and seemingly even prosper here.  The Fresno eateries are located just a few doors down from it at the end and right across the walkway from Final Gravity, a craft beer taproom and bottle shop.  A bit more on that later.

Stepping inside the long space, it’s clear that this is not a Carl’s Jr. /  Green Burrito type relationship.  Both have their own distinct sides, counters and registers.  Colorado Grill is closest to the front door and has a red paint scheme.  Deli Delicious is towards the other end and sports green.  I asked who I suspect is the Manager (owner even?) of Colorado Grill, or perhaps both, if this co-location thing is normal down in Fresno and he said that this is the first time they’ve done it.  He also mentioned that Deli Delicious is a franchise while Colorado Grill is family owned.  An interesting benefit of this cooperation is that they have both Coke and Pepsi fountains.

So what do these places serve?  I ate at both over the weekend starting with dinner at Colorado Grill on Saturday evening so I’ll start there.  Colorado Grill is primarily a burger joint, but they have other things like hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and tuna sandwiches.  One item that caught my eye briefly was a pastrami burger.  I considered that for a moment but decided to go with a basic cheeseburger for my first time.  The basic burger options were the Big Burger (1/4lb)[$3.29/6.45-meal] or the Boulder (1/2lb)[$4.99/8.45-meal].  You can add additional beef patties to these for $1.59 or $1.99 respectively.  Standard toppings on these are mayo, mustard, pickles, onions, tomatoes and lettuce (grilled onions, relish on request) and additional options are guacamole, pastrami, grilled jalapeños, cheese, chili, egg, turkey bacon, mushrooms, avocados and bleu cheese.

Of course I went with the Boulder.  I kept all the standard toppings and added turkey bacon and mushrooms.  There was a bit of a hiccup at the register when the cashier, only on her second day as I overheard earlier, looked confused and said she didn’t see turkey bacon, just bacon.  I assume that it probably was indeed turkey bacon and they had just dropped the “turkey” on their screen to save space.  I made it a meal with fries and a drink, paid and headed off to get my soda and grab a seat.  It was fairly quiet this evening, at around 7, with just a few other customers spread out between the two businesses.  Despite this, it took about 13 minutes for my food to come out.  It felt like a long time but as soon as the basket was set in front of me I forgot about that and set about chowing down.  I was quite hungry.

The first thing that I noticed were the steak fries.  I’m not a fan of this type of fry.  I recall seeing it on the menu before hand and not reading further to see if there were other options.  They have home made onion rings as well as curly/skinny fries (I’m not sure if the curly and skinny fries are the same thing or actually curly seasoned fries and also regular more traditional fries at the same price).  I’ve made this mistake enough times that I should have learned it by now, but I mentally shrugged and started on the thick fries.  They were visibly salted but the sheer size of them vs the light coating on the surface made it hard to taste.  I resorted to ketchup to enjoy these.  Additionally they could have been crisper.  Some of the small fires were good but the majority were a bit limp (they were cooked throughout though).

On to the burger.  It was a decent sized thing to hold onto and had two big strips of bacon placed in an X through the center.  Mostly visible was a ton of shredded lettuce.  From some other angles I was able to see bits of mushroom, tomato and pickles, but they were mostly buried under lettuce.  I forgot to mention that this comes with cheese, or at least that’s what it seemed like when I ordered because without any prompting by me she had asked what kind of cheese.  It did seem a little pricier ($12.31 after tax) than what I had mentally added up when looking at the menu, so it must have been extra.  Anyway, they had about a half dozen to choose from and I went with provolone.  This was about half melted as I bit into it and it stretched out a couple inches as I pulled the burger away.

The patty reminded me a bit of Smashburger’s beef.  The texture was similar but though less greasy.  Also similar was the way it started to fall apart on me about halfway though.  I did not find it to have a whole lot of flavor to it, unfortunately.  The mustard and pickles pretty much dominated this thing.  There wasn’t even that much mustard on it.  The bacon was…OK.  taken as a bite on it’s own I was almost certain it was turkey bacon based on it’s minimal flavor and very lean consistency.  As a bite with everything else it was difficult to notice.  I didn’t really detect the mushrooms either, save for when they would occasionally fall out of the burger and I’d pick them up and eat them on their own.  Overall this was fairly bland and disappointing.

The service, on the other hand, was pretty great.  Bringing the food out was nice, though many places will do that when they’re slow enough.  Several different people checked on myself as well as the other patrons at least two or three times, offering a refill on the last one.  Everyone was extremely nice.  As I was leaving I overheard a new customer ordering fries and had the different options listed to her.  This list included beer-battered fries which were definitely not on the menu.

Website: http://www.coloradogrillfresno.com

Next up was Deli Delicious for lunch on Sunday.  I was joined by my grandmother this time and we headed in at about 11:45.  Our plan was to get our order to go and take it over to Final Gravity for a beer.  As we walked past Final Gravity we saw that they wouldn’t be open for another 15 minutes.  No problem, we’d wait a bit if necessary.  We walked in and were greeted by the Colorado Grill staff as we walked past that counter.  The owner remembered me from the day before and greeted me by name.

Over on the green side we stepped up to the register to read the menu, which was a bit on the smaller side from a few steps back.  This business deals primarily in sandwiches and have everything you’d expect for a deli/sub shop.  I had already looked at the menu online and knew I was ordering the #26 (turkey, bacon, avocado & provolone).  I went with the 8″ medium for $8.  You get a choice of sourdough, white, wheat or having it as a lettuce wrap.  All sandwiches come with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, wax peppers, red onions, black olives, black pepper, oil & vinegar.  I had them leave out the pickles and wax peppers.  I should have got the peppers on the side to try since I’ve actually never even heard of wax peppers.  Wikipedia says they are very popular for canning and pickling so I would guess they have a fairly strong flavor and I probably made the right choice in leaving them off anyway.

My grandma went with a 6″ small Philly Cheesesteak (she loves them) with nothing but steak and cheese (available with grilled onions and peppers)[$6.50] and we decided to get an order of fries to share.  The fries on this menu included the beer-battered kind I heard of on my way out the night before.  It seemed really strange to me that the deli would have these available while the grill did not (at least not obviously available).  We were handed our bag in just under 10 minutes and headed off to Final Gravity, which had opened a few minutes early and already had a couple of customers.

Final Gravity is the only place of it’s kind in Roseville that I’m aware of.  Owl Club down in Old Roseville used to cary a good selection of craft beer but closed recently after a city ordinance, imposing a cover charge on Firday and Saturday nights, came into effect.  Boneshaker Public House in Rocklin is the next closest thing.  Final Gravity boasts 24 or so taps, most of which are usually beers I’m not that familiar with or have flat out never heard of.  You won’t find Bud or Coors here.  On top of this they have 5 big coolers with a ton of bottled beers ready to crack open there or take home to enjoy.  While they don’t serve anything other than some basic snacks like crackers/pretzels themselves, they have menus from La Huaca, Colorado Grill and Deli Delicious and a good relationship with all three so you can have orders delivered directly to you as you enjoy your beer.

If you want to see this place in action and try a very interesting beer style, stop by on Saturday, June 21st when they will be having their 2nd annual Mother Pucker event.  That day, all 24 taps will be loaded with different sour beers.  That’s right, sour.  Intentionally so.  It’s weird but it kinda grows on you after a couple sips.

To go with my sandwich I ordered the Double Chocolate Stout from Rogue Brewing and my grandma, after tasting a couple lighter beers, went with (I think) Alaskan Brewing’s White Ale.  You can see the full list of beers that was available at the time here, but this changes very quickly and most likely is already out of date.

Back to Deli Delicious.  We cracked open the styrofoam containers (an odd way to pack sandwiches to go, I thought).  Soon we realized that we didn’t have our fries.  I walked next door and let them know.  They apologized and got it going immediately as well as upsized it to a large.  I walked back to FG and got started on my sandwich.  Aside from the olives it reminded me a little bit of beach hut in appearance and how the turkey was very much on display in the well-constructed sandwich.  This was great.  All of the ingredients were well balanced, fresh and able to shine through to be enjoyed in each bite.  The mayo and mustard were applied just right.  The sourdough was vey tasty, though maybe could have been a bit on the softer side.

My grandma said that she liked the place down the street more (Cheesesteak Grille) but that this one was still good.  I was a bit underwhealmed by it’s appearance.  About a third into my sandwich the owner came in from next door to deliver the fries.  These were EPIC.  Obviously they were crazy hot since they were right out of the fryer.  Once they cooled down though we both snacked on them until we were stuffed and could eat no more.  They were perfectly crisp and had an additional crunch and nice texture from the beer batter.  I’ve had beer battered fries a few other times randomly when I see them and they are usually pretty awesome no matter where I get them.  This was no exception.

All in all, pretty happy with the deli side of things.  I can see myself returning here as I’m often in the area.  It will for sure be a welcome additional food option at Final Gravity as well.

#169: Susie’s Country Oaks Cafe

Last weekend I decided to tackle the last breakfast on my list, Susie’s Country Oaks Cafe.  Susie’s is located on Cirby at Melody (between Vernon & Riverside).  They have another location in Granite Bay.  I don’t know much about this place other than it looks like it’s been there forever.  When I walked in just before 9AM the restaurant was pretty busy.  The dining room appears medium sized at first, but later when I paid I could see that there was another room or two further back which were also busy with customers.

I was greeted right away and pointed to a booth in a smaller section off to the side.  The person that sat me handed me a menu and asked for my drink order.  I had a steaming cup of coffee about a minute later.  The place feels well used.  It’s clean, but the booth felt old and hollow (and my bench started sliding out from under me when I went to readjust once).  There is a quite low counter facing the kitchen that I didn’t even notice until I was near the exit and could see it lengthwise.  Despite the place being close to full most of the staff didn’t look to be that busy.

My coffee was a touch on the weaker side, but certainly drinkable.  I had a few minutes to go over the menu, which I had already explored online, before my server came by to introduce herself and see if I was ready to order.  I went with the Belgian waffle and asked for a side of bacon and eggs.  She pointed out the waffle sandwich which is exactly that – a waffle, two eggs and two bacon.  A little less than 10 minutes later it was sitting in front of me.  She gave my coffee a refill and left me to my food.  The first thing I noticed about it was that the waffle was much thinner than any waffle I’ve had before and had smaller squares to it.  It had a little sprinkle of powdered sugar over it and a normal sized scoop of soft butter.  The eggs looked to be well cooked as over medium and the bacon was crispy (I didn’t request anything specific, so I assume this is normal for them).

Cutting the waffle apart was difficult.  The consistency was rubbery.  I thought I was going to be too tired to eat by the time I was cutting the last piece up.  The eggs were decent, well cooked with a slightly runny center.  The bacon actually had a lot of flavor for being as crisp as it was.  The waffle was, OK.  It took me a moment to try and put my finger on what it reminded me of.  I decided they tasted very similar to Eggo’s buttermilk waffles.  The syrup was also similar to Mrs Butterworth, smooth and mild.

I found everything about this visit to be just so/so.  Not bad and not that good either.  The service was satisfactory.  It reminded me of Waffle Square, not very memorable.  This is a short post, but I just can’t think of anything more to say about it; I suppose that confirms my last statement.