A winter’s day in a deep and dark December. I am not alone. I am with my two favorite traveling companions Lucas and Graham, 8 and 3 (almost 4), respectively. Now keep in mind I just said they were my two favorite traveling companions, not my two favorite dining companions. Separately they act just fine, but together a nice sit down meal without incident is almost impossible.
No thanks to modern medicine I have through the years tried to learn to let it play out. Who cares if someone broke the napkin dispenser or overturned the saltshaker? Why would it bother you if a kid is screaming, “Mine, mine, mine!” as his brother fights in vain for whatever item one of them snuck in from the car. It’s much better than having to listen to a dad correct them over and over again, right? That’s what I keep telling myself as I glaze over.
Not even all the love in my heart set aside for these two (and trust me, it is a tremendous amount) can keep me from dreading a decent dinner in an actual restaurant. They do much better in places that serve kids meals with toys. But there is one thing that can get these boys to behave, and that is pizza.
On a recent Mississippi excursion to my mother Khaki’s house we were way out Moffett Road when hunger reared its ugly head from the backseat. Given our location my first thought was that we were in a culinary No Man’s Land. Then a voice in my head spoke loud and clear. The voice of Frank Trice (yes, he’s related to the paper) calmly warbled like a songbird, “Semmes House of Pizza,” then again, “Semmes House of Pizza.” It was like the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi was using the force to contact us, “Run, Luke. Run.” A quick search on the mobile device and run we did.
When traveling Moffett all you do is hang a left on Snow Road at the BP Station. It’s right at that point where 98 transforms from a beautiful and serene five-lane into an aggravating and less compromising two-lane until the woods change and the thoroughfare opens again at the Mississippi line.
Frank raves about this place, and I intended on taking him. But with the holidays and my geographic position coupled with my child situation Frank will have to wait for another time. With apologies. Frank’s raving, however, is not unwarranted. This little strip mall gem is an oasis in a desert of gas station food.
The MacDonald boys were seated and treated by one of the nicest servers the world has ever seen. No milk or lemonade on the menu, we settled on water, Sprite, and unsweetened tea as we checked out the menu full of signature pizzas, pastas, salads and overstuffed subs. Most of these would have to wait for another day with Frank. For a review of a pizza parlor I’m looking to hit the pie and the wings in order to pass judgment.
The dry erase board boasted an appetizer special of loaded French fries ($7.99). How can we pass that up? Crispy fries topped with cheese, bacon and jalapenos were second to Butch Cassidy’s. It was easy for the boys to pick off the peppers and a good time was had by all. No sauce, no ketchup, the bacon was enough flavor for us.
On that same white board the chicken wing special was garlic parmesan ($6.99). Our waiter told us they also have regular Buffalo style, but it isn’t very hot. This would suffice. I take issue with most chain pizza places that bake their wings into a rubbery mess. If you don’t get rubbery you usually are treated to slimy with undercooked skin. It takes a little bit of skill to bake a wing and make it as good as a fried one. These were excellent. The sauce was mouth-watering and flavored exactly as I imagined.
In the midst of all this, Graham decides he doesn’t want pizza. The remedy? Pizza’s kissing cousin breadsticks ($2.99). Served with the obligatory side of marinara, I received not a bite for the purpose of sampling. I guess that means someone thought they were good.
Now for the pie. Lucas is an easy read, especially in this “Home Alone” season, and was proud to order a slice of cheese ($2.75). Here is the part I like. You can order extra toppings per slice. That is a killer deal for someone who wants the glory of a “create your own” without having to stuff down an entire pizza. I was also happy to see green olives on the list of toppings. It was this that made me decide to stray from my favorite pepperoni and meatballs to create an older favorite from my childhood. A slice of Italian sausage and green olives ($3.50) was a walk down memory lane. I love the sourness of the olives with the sausage. And I love that it was just a slice.
If this menu sounds tame, think again. Other hard to find toppings are anchovies and goat cheese, the latter being impressive. Lasagna and Stromboli are also on my list to try. Dessert is cannoli. You can’t go wrong with that.
So what’s a great pizza parlor doing in Semmes? Anything it wants, and apparently doing it well. The pizza is closer to a New York style that I do so crave. The dough is fantastic, the staff is excellent, and the price is right. Yeah, it’s a hike from midtown, but it’ll be worth the drive for a guy’s night out of pizza and debauchery.
Hey, Frank and Rob, whatcha got going on tonight?
Semmes House of Pizza
3958 Snow Rd N. Suite C