Carb Rock Cafe: Joey Nova’s in Tonka Bay

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HI!

This pizza gone Hulk is the 19-inch XL pizza they offer at Joey Nova’s. It’s perfectly flimsy, sauced lightly, topped heavily, and dribbles out just enough grease that your bite virtually slides down your throat on its own. It’s pie ecstasy in its most basic form, blown up 1000 percent without losing the quality.

If you’re like me, you’re not thinking: “Ya know what’d be really great? If Joey Nova’s challenged us to eat an entire 19-inch by ourselves, with five meat toppings, in 30 minutes or less.”

You’re not thinking that because you read the sign outside the front door.

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That’s for another day. Let’s switch gears and talk about the first great alfredo I’ve had in a while and the excellent service at Joey Nova’s.

The Basics: Joey Nova’s resides in Tonka Bay, a few steps from a chocolate shop and a couple doors down in a strip mall from something called Fish Guy and Pet Supply. You can find them online at joeynovas.com. Check out their Facebook page and read about their $6 spaghetti Wednesdays. My stomach expanded at the mere thought of it.

I cannot emphasize enough how great the service is here at Nova’s: I brought my family to dine here, and not a single one of them was driven to quit. You know those families who re-arrange the whole restaurant to accommodate their seating desires, bicker briefly at the counter before ordering, and order pretty much everything without one ingredient or with an extra ingredient added, and we nearly all order something entirely different to drink?

Hi, that’s us: My mother wanted a coffee, my wife and sister wanted fountain drinks, my stepfather wanted a bottle of Coke, and I wanted a beer. My stepfather wanted a small Meat Lover’s, but I talked him into going XL with just pepperoni and sausage. I then ordered my chicken alfredo. My wife wanted baked ziti, but with meatballs instead of regular sausage; and my mother wanted … I don’t remember exactly, but it didn’t have meat and she wanted a side salad out right away.

Remember that scene in the Super Mario Bros. movie, where Mario and Luigi are trying to explain to a clerk that their names are Mario Mario and Luigi Mario? If you haven’t seen it, don’t. It’s not worth excruciating yourself with that movie. Just miss the reference and move on.

The staff didn’t make a single mistake. If you ever go out to a trivia night and overhear an opponent talk about working at Nova’s, just give up and go home.

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It’s a quaint interior, one you can miss altogether if you remain focused on the stack of pizza boxes behind the counter (they make boxes for the 19-inch pizzas; they’re basically shipping pallets) or the man hand-tossing the extra-large crusts near the seats. Missing it altogether is exactly what I did, though I did notice the grape lights. Otherwise, it’s a quaint interior (I think).

They’ve got four beers on tap, including Excelsior’s Big Island Blond, which I ordered. Does it pair well with pizza? Sure it does, becaaause it’s beer aaand it’s pizza.

Everyone loved what they ordered. It was gone before I could see it, but my little sister loved her chicken parm. I had a bite of my wife’s ziti, and approve of their sauce and cheese distribution on this. My alfredo came like I’d never seen alfredo before, with sliced tomatoes and green peppers in it. It added a nice crunch, and the illusion of eating something that was healthier than it really was.

Only four slices of pizza remained after the meal.

You thought you ordered too much,” said my wife to my stepfather, “but no — we’re pigs!

The pizza didn’t re-heat very well in the microwave, but that’s the only negative thing I can say about Joey Nova’s. The total damages were just south of $80, but let’s recap: Four pasta dishes, pint of a beer, two fountain drinks, a coffee, a bottle of Coke, a salad, and a 19-inch two-topping pizza. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to beat, but you’re going to have a tough time finding the same level of quality at a comparable price point for all of that.

We loaded up our five to-go boxes, re-arranged the restaurant back to its original specification, and left in agreement that we’d return before long. The price was right, the cooks nailed everything, and the service was baffling in its precision.

A moral obligation to face down that pizza challenge doesn’t seem incommodious in the least. Rather, I’m quite looking forward to it.

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