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Italian Pizza Pub is a football Saturday tradition

Mystery Diner • Oct 21, 2016 at 7:30 AM

My dine-around friends were all charged up for this Saturday’s Big Game. They wanted to relive their collegiate memories with a complete game day package: a cool crisp fall day, tailgating, seated in the stands cheering the home team with happily raucous fans as your seat mates, everything. Only problem was, the East Tennessee State University Bucs were playing an away game at Virginia Military Institute, and our funds said “No” to a road trip..

From the glassy-eyed looks, I could see that my friends were in the first stages of Football Denial Syndrome; something had to be done, and fast. Quickly, I offered an alternative venue that would provide outstanding intercollegiate football, good food, and a college crowd atmosphere to get those fond alma mater memories bubbling merrily. This is how the dine-around bunch and I wound up on West Walnut Street at the Italian Pizza Pub.

I knew the Pub from my academic days at ETSU. Being a college student whose bank balance a church mouse would pity, I would save up my dollars and spare change so my friends and I could enjoy ourselves at Italian Pizza Pub every Saturday that the Bucs weren’t in town. I knew the Italian Pizza Pub wouldn’t fail me, even at this late date.

Though the outside of their building is not much to look at, the inside still has that warm and comfortable glow that a college-town pub gets after years of earnest and jovial service to a mostly collegiate clientele. Seating is available for thirty or so in some well-worn and shabby-chic booths, each with a good view of both the television and the Pub’s open kitchen.

Though we couldn’t see our Bucs play in person, we could watch the Tennessee Vols on television; they were also on the road, facing a scrappy Texas A&M team. The Carnivore found us a table with correct line-of-sight while my dining partner and I took our orders to the front. Despite the Pub’s two-man staff being busy preparing other orders, we were able to get ours entered without the boys missing a beat.

My dining partner had a hankering for Italian Pizza Pub’s meatball parmesan sandwich ($4.75), while the Dieter was more interested in getting some of their beef lasagna ($6.99) with a side salad ($2.95). The Carnivore ordered a large (14- inch) Supreme pizza ($17.95) with everything, and I just knew a Gyros sandwich ($5.50) was what I was hungry for. In place of an appetizer, we all decided to order a Pub Stromboli ($6.25) for us to munch on while waiting.

Despite the take-out orders being created and picked up, not to mention a dining area almost filled with hungry and football-noisy patrons, we had our selections in front of us inside of 15 minutes.

The Stromboli was out first, a Carnivore-pleasing mix of ham, salami, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese wrapped up in fresh pizza dough and baked. My dining partner sliced it into eight pieces, all of which were consumed with much lip-smacking and appreciative red-sauced smiles.

My Gyros sandwich was great, a soft pita filled with beef and lamb, onion, lettuce tomatoes plus the Pub’s take on tzatziki sauce. All of it was delicious and gone in a flash.

My dining partner’s meatball parmesan sandwich had not two, but three grilled meatballs covered in marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. The parmesan cheese could be found in the red sauce and also covering each meatball, as well as sprinkled on top and baked until golden brown. Very good indeed.

The Dieter’s beef lasagna featured ground beef sautéed in olive oil and crushed garlic, then layered between Italian pasta ribbons, daubed in red marinara sauce and stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan cheeses. The Pub’s garlic bread was there to complement the lasagna and also to help mop up any leftover red sauce. By the time the Dieter finished, there wasn’t any red sauce or lasagna left on her plate.

The Carnivore’s pizza was a work of art and just what he wanted for his football Saturday. To a 14-inch diameter pizza dough of proprietary ingredients and leavening procedure was added sliced smoked pepperoni, mild Italian sausage, boiled ham, then sprinkled with mushroom slices, chopped white onions and green peppers. Then add shredded mozzarella and bake. Each thin slice had a crispy but still-flexible bottom to the crust, and a crunchy New York-style upper crust making easy to handle.

By the time we had finished, the Tennessee Vols were behind the Texas Aggies but threatening a comeback, and the very vocal urgings of our fellow diners told us that the Vols might do just that. And the ETSU Bucs? They lost a hard-fought contest to the VMI Keydets. Oh well, there’s always next Saturday, right?

Italian Pizza Pub

807 West Walnut Street

Johnson City

928-0808

Mon-Fri 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sat 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Available on Facebook

Credit cards accepted

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