I really don’t think there’s a place in the restaurant business that is more competitive than pizza, and now with locally owned operations and franchise giants, we have the newcomer Pizza Guys and Straw Hat returning. We have many, many options.
One of the low-key pizza places I love is Queen Pizza and Krispy Krunchy Chicken on Mount Vernon Avenue, in a small mall area near the Albertsons grocery store.
This is a place that attempts to serve up many different things, including the funky french fries swirls on a stick that you usually see at the county fair, along with chicken, wedges, pizza, sandwiches, wings – you name it. Usually this is a danger sign that the kitchen is too elongated. But in this case, there are a few things they do well.
One is the fried chicken, which is supposed to have some sort of Cajun flavor, but I wouldn’t choose it, at least compared to the spicy version I enjoyed at Popeyes. What makes it good is how thick and crunchy the dough is, so much so that it resists stinging well, yet the poultry inside is still wet and not dry. Even my companion, who is not usually a big fan of fried chicken, was impressed with this product. I wonder if there was a brine to keep the meat very moist.
On a recent visit, we ordered the three-piece white meat chicken meal ($5.99) and received perfect breasts and two very meaty wings. I’m not sure the exact definition of a meal, although you only get one freshly made honey butter biscuit with chicken. The biscuit has the equivalent of frosting on top and is primarily designed for people who are concerned about not getting enough sugar in their diet.
Our order also included large bacon and cheese slices ($6.99), a medium cajun chicken pizza ($15.99), and large red beans and rice ($4.49). One thing we learned about Queen Pizza is that some items are not always available. We tried to order the Queen Tornado Fries ($2.49), which is a twisted-on-a-stick french fries I mentioned above, and chicken nuggets (chicken skin-fried pieces, $4.49). Neither was available, although we’ve enjoyed both in the past.
We love the wedges almost as much as the rosti, and this version with mozzarella and bacon bits on top is just as good. We love the Cajun pizza because it has a nice alfredo sauce in place of the tomato, the chicken nuggets seem spicier than the fried chicken, and the veggies are black olives and sliced jalapenos. Everything works.
They have pastrami pizza with mustard, extra cheese, pickles, and interesting black olives, but we still liked the version at Slice of Italy.
The red beans and rice aren’t as smoked as the version at Popeyes, but I do appreciate the clean, crunchy taste of the beans and the rice is always moist.
They have plenty of family-friendly packages with pizza, chicken, and wedges, as well as a variety of lunch specials with prices ranging from $6.99 to $10.99. And on weekdays, you can get a large pepperoni pizza for $7.99, an offer dictated by the competition we’ve undoubtedly talked about.
The atmosphere is very simple: one TV, no games, simple tables with laminate tops and functional chairs, clean tiled floor, fans everywhere. There is a vaguely industrial vibe, as if you were in a corporate dining room. Most customers in our experience either get the delivery or to go. There are four types of beer served in bottles, and no wine. You wouldn’t visit for the ambiance.
Pete Tittl’s Dining Out column appears in The Californian on Sundays. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: pftittl.