Uncle Joe's Pizzeria
3401 E. Tudor Rd.
$8-$18 per plate
Noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday through Saturday
Ideally when you stop for lunch, you’ve got time to sit back and savor your meal. Sometimes, however, you’re in a hurry and you’re looking for something fast -- precisely because you don’t.
I was in just such a situation Friday, after attempting a second visit to a South Anchorage establishment (which shall remain unnamed) that wasn’t open during its posted hours. With most of my allocated time to eat already gone, I was looking for something local, tasty and quick.
Uncle Joe’s Pizzeria is a local chain with four locations across Anchorage; I pulled into the Tudor Road restaurant hungry and in a hurry, half-expecting to find little more than a cash register and cooler out front in the manner of many a pizza kitchen. The look of the place evoked an old-school pizzeria, however, with dark booths and checkered tablecloths accented by a few arcade-game machines and even a popcorn stand. Posters on the walls leaned toward beer ads, with a few local brands mixed in for flavor.
I glanced at the extensive menu of pizzas, salads and sandwiches, but ended up selecting my lunch from a convenient carousel of pizza by the slice. Perusing the simplified selection within, I asked for a slice each of Hawaiian and pepperoni pizza ($3 apiece), along with a glass of root beer ($1.75). The food was handed over as soon as I could exchange cash for the plate, and I took a seat to dig into my meal.
The Hawaiian slice was a simple but strong piece of pie, about one-sixth of a large 18-inch pizza and slightly larger than one of the intimidating specimens served at Costco. A nearly solid layer of Canadian bacon underpinned the sprinkling of pineapple on top, offering a surprisingly meaty contrast to the soft-baked crust; I never toss crusts as a matter of principle, but this one was definitely more appealing than the usual tough ring of crisped dough.
I used some of the Parmesan cheese from a shaker at my table to accentuate the pepperoni slice, which was just as heavily coated as the Hawaiian slice but somewhat less salty than I’d feared. Without the sweet-salty interaction of the pineapple and ham to distract my taste buds, I was able to properly appreciate the simple marinara applied to the pie, which didn’t have any strong notes to it but contained its own residual hint of sweetness.
I’ve always been a fan of simple things done well, and Uncle Joe’s falls into the heart of that category in my mind. I hadn’t expected to visit this week, and the circumstances frankly weren’t fair to the place’s menu, but I’m impressed with what I received and contemplating a return visit with friends. In the end, as I think the afternoon’s events over I have to sit back and chalk one up for serendipity.