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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Columbia Eats: Nick's House of Pizza

I had heard of Nick's House of Pizza vaguely through friends and from reviews in other Columbia food blogs, but when my friend and I pulled up to the restaurant on a whim this past week, it was safe to say we had mixed reactions going into this. Located in what feels like the middle of nowhere in West Columbia - which pretty much is the middle of nowhere for local residents - the low-brow venue cast a bit of doubt on our party of two.

Tucked away in a pretty old building compared to its neighbors in nearby downtown, Nick's felt more like a small town restaurant then anything else - certainly not a bad thing though. After being seated, we opened the menu and were pleasantly greeted with a host of Greek options. I immediately turned off my original pizza idea and jumped into a Gyro and Souvlaki platter with beef while my friend decided to stay stateside to try out their special Hamburger Steak.

Our complementary salads arrived first. Topped with their Greek dressing, it turned out to be a pretty satisfying start to the meal - something I rarely say for a salad starter. The dressing, a sweet and sour oil mixture, definitely brightened the salad and gave it a nice bite. My only critique had to have been the olive, which offset things for a moment. It may just have been me, but it definitely cut into what was an otherwise okay beginning.

Our dinners soon arrived hot out of the oven. Served with a side of oven-roasted potatoes, it was safe to say that I got my money's worth in the gyro/souvlaki dinner. This was a love/hate relationship though. The lamb and pita bread, first of all, were to die for. The bread was light, warm and crispy, perfectly complimenting the lamb which satisfied to no end. The tzatziki sauce that came with the dish had a powerful first kick, giving me the pucker face for a moment, but several bites later I couldn't get enough of it. Its extra lemony bite went well with the lamb, adding a nice layer of depth to the dish. The souvlaki beef, however, was a dry mess. Tough to chew down, and not at all compatible with anything on the plate, it proved to be a major letdown, especially considering that it cornered a large portion of the plate. The oven roasted potatoes, at first, were surprisingly good. Generously seasoned and roasted just right, it felt like a good match with the dinner. In the end though, it came to be a bit too salty to finish.

Things certainly looked brighter over on my friend's side of the table. 'Nick's Hamburger Steak', as they called their special version, definitely isn't your average joe. Instead of the traditional grilled onions, this hamburger steak came piled high with melted feta cheese and a few slices of tomato. To quote my friend: "This is some good hamburger steak". Imagine a huge bite of your favorite hamburger along with a hint of fresh tomato and creamy melted cheese, and I'm sure you'll agree that there is simply no going wrong with this one. Definitely a winner.

No Reservations, The Shakedown on Nick's
Atmosphere: Family affair.
Cost: In relation to quantity, worth it! $7-14.
Try: The gyro, pizza, and/or Hamburger Steak.
Goodness found all over menu really.
Don't: Beef slovaki. Too dry. Most of Greek menu does
not meet the height set by the Italian side to be honest.
Don't Forget: To check out the desert setup at the
front desk. Delicious bites waiting!

The Final Verdict
Despite some of the shortcomings in the Gyro/Souvlaki platter, we walked away from Nick's House of Pizza with a sense of satisfaction. The restaurant was fairly busy for an off-hour time of the day, which is a great sign that they know what their doing. The pizza has been claimed to be one of the best in town - though I have not tried for myself - but don't be afraid to venture through their varied menu of specials. On the Greek side, if must, do stick with the gyro. Nick's definitely shines in the Italian section though, and the orders that came fast and flying around us certainly reflected that. The menu is also varied enough price-wise to fit anyone's bill thanks to their long list of subs and salads, but for those looking for the real goods, definitely aim big and get your money's worth.

On our way out, we noticed a revolving tray of deserts. We didn't have time - or stomach - to try out anything, but everything looked absolutely delicious. The list of deserts aren't on the main menu, so definitely be wary of it on the way out during your next visit and let me know how it goes!

Nick's House of Pizza Restaurant on Urbanspoon


DMajorBoss said...

I have to say, that really was some good hamburger steak. It didn't even need any ketchup and, in adding a little to see what it'd taste like, something that good only got better.

It was a pretty good meal, salad and burger together with cold drinks, and it filled me up nicely.

Thanks for the review.

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