Annex 66 Del Friscos
Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search
Visit: March 15, 2012
In the last few weeks, I've been thinking how I haven't had much pizza in 2012 or even in the latter half of 2011. Growing up, pizza has been just an important part of my childhood, just as the ever popular burger. The fact that I've been doing things lately that have tapped into my past has propelled me in the thinking that pizza must be something that I had to eat soon. When the opportunity came up and the stars aligned on this nice March evening, I couldn't pass up the chance to go out west to D.D.O. and have Del Friscos' pizza.
Del Frisco was supposed to be a place that I visited months ago, but as most of you know, when other things get in the way, plans all apart. It was my faithful colleague Steakman that first introduced me to the thoughts of going here. On our outing to Jack Astor's last October, we passed by Del Friscos, mainly due to the fact that they are right next to each other. He made sure I knew that we had to come here to try the pizza and their cannolis. That got my attention, but as time moved on, other more interesting things seemed to present themselves and we forgot about coming here, that is, until now.
Located in the heart of the West Island of Montreal, Del Frisco has quite the competition around it. Just off the top of my head, there are pretty close to a dozen other restaurants within walking distance. So, to stand out, one must be either very good at what they do or have a pretty good gimmick. Luckily, there aren't many gimmicks around this area. Plus, listening to Steakman rant about not ever wanting to set foot in Elixor, right next door, is something that I can't get enough of.
We managed to talk into the restaurant at about quarter to 7 p.m. and we're told that we would have to endure at least a 15 minute wait. The fact that there was a wait, in a way, surprised us because we had no idea that this place would be so popular. If people are willing to wait for food, you must know that the restaurant must be doing something right. Over the course of our wait, people had to be turned away. There were about half a dozen parties ahead of us and I just had a feeling that 15 minutes wasn't going to be 15 minutes. If you remember what happened at the Deville Dinerbar, you'll know that no one is too fond of waiting. Here, we had to choice, since we didn't have reservations and weren't expecting the line-up.
Waiting is something that I don't do too well. Steakman and I are both teachers. We all know what's said about most teachers, we don't have patience. So, the waiting period was filled with us basically emptying our conversational repository of topics, making all the Seinfeld references we could, and analyzing the situation much like they do in hockey telecasts. Why did we have time to do all that? Well, because the wait wasn't 15 minutes long, it was 45 minutes long.
You'll probably want to ask me why we didn't just leave. My answer to that is that we wanted pizza. If you're going to ask that to us, you should also ask the same thing to the other people who braved the very same wait. We were told 3 times by 3 different people that it wouldn't be very long. At least, unlike other recent experiences, we weren't kept in the dark. We wanted to test the theory of if it's good, people will wait for it.
We were seated around 7:30 p.m. right around the center of the room, where we had a very good view of the open kitchen. We could see the staff hard at work creating the dishes that were filling to tables. There wasn't one empty seat in the entire restaurant. There was even a birthday party at the large table next to us. The staff were moving around rather briskly and you just knew that they were busy that night.
Del Frisco wasn't that unknown to me like I claimed above. If you're a listener of TSN 990 like I am, you'll know that a certain somebody has been promoting the heck out of this place. I must have heard the radio ad at least a hundred times by now. I kept telling myself, if it's good enough for that person, it has to be more than acceptable for a person who mainly does burgers. To add to that, if that person had a dish named after themselves, it better be good.
I want to take a moment to address dishes being named after people. In 2012, I have yet to have anything named after me, nor will I ever hope to have that happen. Like putting a “best burger” stamp on something, allowing your name to be used for a dish is a bit gutsy. There's a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry David isn't happy with the sandwich named after him because of the ingredients. I often wonder what the process is behind putting someone's name on something.
All this is leading to who that person is that put their name and reputation behind Del Friscos. Well, hockey fans rejoice, it is the one and only Larry Robinson who goes out of his way to eat at Del Friscos every time that he is in town. I have no proof of this, but that's what he says in the radio spot. So, if he's going to be the spokesperson and allow his name to represent the only pizza on the menu with bacon in it, well, you know exactly what I was going to order.
This pizza contains Italian sausage, grilled chicken, bacon, black olives, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
When I was looking at the menu at home, I notice that this was the only pizza to come with bacon. In a way, it made me happy that it was on the signature pizza, but it came with something that I didn't really understand for pizza, grilled chicken. I'm sorry if this might offend someone, but I don't think chicken belongs on pizza. Pizza should be reserved to the manly meats. Don't ask me what that means because I just made that up right now to explain myself.
The first glimpse of this pizza was a good one. The size, sight, and smells were just something. You knew, that even before taking a bite, that this was going to be good. Having my resident pizza person sitting with me, telling me exactly what I wanted to hear, just reinforced the fact that I kind of know what I'm talking about. This was going to be a good pizza.
Before I get to how satisfying the pizza was, I'm going to touch on the one issue I had with this particular one. The thin slice of pizza was a perfect portion for a sit-down dinner. The only thing that worried me a bit was having to pick up the piece and do my best to reinforce the edge furthest away from the crust. It wasn't as stable as I would've liked. For those of you wondering, I did not eat any of this pizza with a fork or knife, as I feel that goes against my bacon pizza beliefs. If I can't pick up a pizza, it's not worth eating. This one may have given me trouble, but once you got the learning curve, things went smoothly.
The crust for this pizza was, in my opinion, very well conceived and prepared. The crust It wasn't too heavy, making it easy to chew and swallow. Also, it was crispy enough to go with the softer elements of the pizza. Sometimes, a crust is the make or break element of a pizza. Here, the crust just added to what was a good pizza.
I would normally try to dissect every ingredient in a pizza, but I'm going to stick to the two that stand out. First, the grilled chicken, which was a first for me on a pizza. I know I ranted before on how chicken doesn't belong on a pizza and I'm going to maintain that here. This pizza would've been just as good if the grilled chicken was nowhere to be found.
The second element was the bacon. I can never go against bacon in a pizza, unless its not done right. So, you can take your bacon bits and your entire slices, go to where the sun don't shine, putting it there for eternity. If the bacon is sliced up in very manageable pieces and cooked to the perfect state, it's perfect for pizza. There are hardly any places that I know of that do bacon this way. For those of you who want to know, this is how I fell in love with bacon because it was done perfectly on a pizza I used to have so often near my home. Del Frisco, this night's epic status was clinched the second we tasted the bacon on your pizza.
Larry Robinson - Steakman Style
If you haven't figured it by now, we both ordered the same pizza, with one large exception. I went all and took everything listed, while Steakman asked for a few things to be taken off. He asked that his pizza come without the black olives and Italian sausage. The restaurant was more than happy to oblige him.
Before we got to the restaurant, Steakman was on another one of his great rants about how he does not enjoy bacon on a pizza. I decided to poke and prod him to find out the root of his bacon distrust. It turns out that he only eats bacon for breakfast. He's lucky that he has so many other redeeming qualities, or I would've disowned him right there and then. However, that was a little impractical because my bag was locked in his trunk and I had a McDonald's apple pie in there. So, with that being said, it was my great surprise to find out that he would be trusting the redux version of Larry Robinson's pizza. It was an even greater surprise to find out that he didn't substitute the bacon. All that to say that you never question bacon, never.
Now, I was never planning on having dessert for monetary reasons, but I had just enough to do this. There isn't much on this planet worthy enough to empty my pockets like chocolate mousse. When Steakman saw the dessert menu, he knew exactly what I was going to choose.
I'm not going to say much about this because it was good enough to put a cap on my epic evening here. I'll still say that chocolate mousse is probably even more epic when discussed about in the form of a cake. I do know that it was at this table where plans for a Steakman sponsored visit to Le Jardin de Panos was made for the future, where everyone knows exactly how I'll end that evening.
Just as Steakman was sure about my dessert selection, I was sure of his. He was ranting and raving about another restaurant's cannolis, making this choice a no-brainer. During the course of our meal, he found out our server was Greek like him. That opened up the floodgates and then, the dessert questions came in. Steakman found out that all the desserts were homemade. He took one bite of the thing and explode into pure joy. It was as good as the one he was raving about from the past. I've come to know that if he endorses something with his stamp of approval, it's really worth it.
When I opened the billfold at the end of the evening, something caught my eyes. If it wasn't for my time at the Deville Dinerbar, this probably would've skipped my attention. I find it really interesting that there is no place on this planet where advertising can't be done. At this time, I'd like to mention that this review is brought to you by mrlewburger.com, now over a year old and less than 4 months away from Burger 150. Do you see what I mean? Oh, and yes, that is a cameo appearance by my money, which I parted ways with on this evening, leaving me with only 2 dollars in my pocket. Luckily, that was temporary as I have been refueled money-wise and ready for another week.
If you're on the West Island and looking for perfectly acceptable pizza, this is the place for you. At the end of the night, it was well worth the wait for perfectly done bacon, good dessert, and cordial service. If it got the Steakman stamp of approval, I know that I take that to the bank.