This week’s challenger is an alternate that’s stepped up to be first in the Pizza Shop division: Ray’s Pizzaria (sic, herein referred to as simply “Ray’s,” because the misspelling of pizzeria makes my spell checker and baby Jesus cry). Ray’s is previously the Blanco location of Goomba’s Pizzeria (correctly spelled) but is supposedly run by the same people. I don’t really know what that means, since there is a specific owner of Goomba’s, but this is a review of a sandwich, not restaurant history.
Ray’s replaces Rome’s Pizza (web site returns an error at last check), which is now closed, on the original schedule. I understand there may still be locations operating in the city, and if that’s true then it can hold a place on the alternates list. I’m not sure why Ray’s née Goomba’s wasn’t originally on the schedule, but everyone agreed that it was a good substitution.
Normally I’d order a couple slices or split a pie for lunch, but today was about the subs. They only had an Italian and club on the cold sub menu, with hot sandwiches including the “Sicilian” (more on that in a moment); a meatball, chicken or eggplant parm sub; and a cheese steak sandwich. I wouldn’t have minded one of the hot sandwiches, but to me a sub is cold cuts. Since the Sicilian was described as having “Italian meats” with lettuce, tomatoes and olives, it sort of sounded like it could be something other than what it turned out to be: a hot Italian sub. So, I instead opted for a “half” Italian sub, a slice of cheese pizza, fries and a drink. Let me explain how this combination came about:
The sandwiches are sold in “half” and “full” sizes, with half being $4.95 and the full $7.95. A slice is $1.95. Some quick mental math tells me that a half sub plus a slice is cheaper and probably more food. Some quick non-mental non-math tells me that I need a slice of pizza. The fries enter the equation because when I ordered a drink, $1.75, I was asked if I wanted the fries and drink combo for $2. So for $0.25, I can try the fries as a side for my sandwich. Spoiler: What a waste of 25 perfectly good cents.
Surprisingly, the slice came out first. In hindsight I probably should have put the hot oil and cheesy goodness into my mouth after trying the sub; but I was hungry, and the slice was perfectly made. As Greg pointed out, maybe that contributed to the overall letdown of the sub itself. The bread was a standard Italian roll, toasted, but otherwise unremarkable. It was apparently covered with a brushing of melted butter, parm cheese and either parsley or oregano. I wouldn’t know which, because most of it ended up on my hand and not in my mouth. That made the sandwich much more messy than it should have been and didn’t really add anything to the overall flavor.
The insides consisted of salami, capicola, ham and provolone. As for the vegetables, there were small but adequate pieces romaine lettuce and one very thin tomato slice cut in half. There was a decent amount of the meats, but if you hadn’t told me what they were, I might have said it was just a cold-cut sandwich. And when I think about it, save for the capicola, that’s what it was, and the “capicola” couldn’t have truly been such. If you had told me it was Canadian bacon, I would have told you, “no way, Canadian bacon has more flavor than this.”
After about 2 bites of the sandwich and discovering my disappointment at the blandness of it, I realized one of the major flaws: there was no dressing. I was eating a dry cold-cut sandwich on a hard roll! I went to the serving counter and asked for some Italian dressing, which they readily gave me. What a difference that made to the taste of the sandwich, but only from “disappointing” to “adequate.” Another major flaw was that it had no peppers, olives or any other kind of garnish or seasoning that would have made it anything other than what it was: a cold-cut sandwich.
Greg and Dave each ordered the “Sicilian” hot sandwich, but since it was served without the advertised olives, it just turned out to be exactly the same as my sandwich, but hot. (Update: Dave reports there are some chopped olives on his leftover sandwich). As served, the sandwich was worse than the one I got at R&B;’s; if you put the two sandwiches in front of me, based on taste alone, I would have to pick R&B;’s. The only equalizer is that Ray’s sub is $2 cheaper and will make you feel more full, if price is a factor. The fries were just as previously frozen and overcooked as R&B;’s, and, though they only cost me $0.25 extra, I wouldn’t bother next time.
I rated the following categories:
- Bread: 3
- Sandwich Stuff: 3
- Price/Value: 6
- Non-sandwich Stuff: 0
- Bonus points: 2
- Total: 14 points
The sandwich at Ray’s was disappointing to me in a similar way that the sandwich at R&B;’s was: I really liked the food I had had there before, and I was hoping for better than what I was served. The only bright spot of this visit was the excellent slice of cheese pizza, which was enough to make the experience better than R&B;’s, so I gave Ray’s 2 bonus points. However, it’s going to take a pretty dismal showing of all the other restaurants in this division if Ray’s is going to make an appearance in the semifinals.