Navco Pizza Pasta Subs
1368 1/2 Navco Road
Mobile 36605

I had my birthday all to myself. Almost. I never take the day off, but for the most part I was free. It was a week of no school because of Mardi Gras break and my music-lesson load for the day was no more than two or three students, so I grabbed Lucas and Graham for some much-needed father-sons time.

These outings usually begin with talks of school, a little teasing about girls, maybe a plan for a bike ride, but the conversation always sharply turns toward food. Yes, these two have inherited the “live to eat” gene, and I don’t know if I am proud or sad. Thank goodness they’re both as thin as I was at the ages of 8 and 12, so without too much worry we can strap on the feedbag and eat like idiots every now and then.

Where to? I’d never been to Navco Pizza. I’d tried once, but got hung up in traffic after work and they closed at 8 p.m. Another time they closed even earlier for a holiday. On this blessed day of my birth we were able to make it to the corner of Navco Road and McVay Drive at an early (for us) 11:20 a.m.

These two clowns love to go on reviews. I shamefully admit we don’t get to do it enough due to scheduling snares, but I could feel Graham’s excitement as we entered the building.

Making sure the kids didn’t blow our cover, I told the nice man behind the counter we were going to be ordering a “stupid” amount of food because we were eating lunch there and taking the rest home for dinner. I also instructed him to roll it out as it comes in traveling boxes.

Graham kicked off the order with spaghetti and meatballs ($7.59). It was the first thing to make it to the table and my little 50-pound mini-me was impressed with the amount.

“Dad, feel how heavy this plate is!” Yes, the plastic foam container was hearty to say the least.

Good, thick spaghetti was cooked tenderly with two or three giant meatballs. He said he wasn’t going to share any more than a couple of noodles with brother and dad, but I eventually changed his mind. The red sauce was slightly sweet and the meatballs were excellent.

Buffalo wings ($6) were the next to arrive. Normally I don’t care for wings from pizza parlors because they aren’t fried. For these I would make an exception. True, it isn’t really Buffalo-style unless they are fried nude and coated in hot sauce and butter, but this batch was still pretty good.

I’d ordered them hot, and while the temperature was there the spicy heat was just present enough to discourage my progeny. There may have been a touch of lemon pepper and a little more heat from another source, but nothing hair-raising. I’ll say I enjoyed them but won’t go out of my way to get them again.

Lucas was head over heels for his meal. From the moment he saw the menu on the drive over he was determined to make it a calzone ($7.69) day. The choices were all meat, Italian, American and country. My little gunslinger opted for country.

It’s a glorified ham sandwich with ham, bacon, onion and tomato all held together with American cheese in the fold-over crust. He was almost bragging about his selection, begging me to try it, and I was proud for him. No one is claiming these guys are Italian, and this isn’t what you’d find at a pizza chain, but with a name like “country” you are getting what you ask for.

It doesn’t get much more country than thick-cut bacon and American cheese. Of course, size matters to these kids and the calzone was as impressive as the massive spaghetti plate still being enjoyed by a determined-to-finish Graham. The true victory in this was seeing my pre-teen eat nearly half of it without picking out the tomatoes and onions! His taste buds are maturing to where we no longer pick out these things.

As I mentioned before, it was my birthday, and the birthday boy gets to go to the Big Show. If pizza is the name of the game, then the Navco Special ($8.59) should be the route to take.

My close friends know I am not super crazy about pizza, but I can change my tune for this stuff. Sausage, beef, ham and pepperoni could give the 10-inch Navco Special a meat lover’s reputation, but it doesn’t stop there. Onions, bell peppers, black olives, mushrooms and tomatoes appease the veggie craver in this omnivore pie.

A bird’s-eye view proved you could see no sign of what we were about to eat. The cheese is so plentiful it forms a top crust, the canopy of which hid the treasures that made this pizza one of my favorites in the city.

As planned, we took home so much food I didn’t have to spend a dime on dinner. Come to think of it, there was so much food that I forgot I also ordered a Deluxe Sub! I’m not bitter. My bill was still under $40 and I got two meals out of it.

Pizza on my birthday? I’d never dream of it. But this day it worked. Looking at the faces of my two favorite inventions, different as can be but both unmistakably sharing my DNA, I couldn’t ask for a better lunch. The only sting is that as I gain another number, I notice them growing up too fast.

Three men eating as real men often do, indulging in meats and cheeses while drinking syrupy-sweet tea and Dr. Peppers can do more good than harm. Thank you, Navco Pizza, for an excellent birthday. You owe me a sub.