I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Covina, California.
Greetings from Covina, California
N 34° 5.3479’ W 117° 55.5339’ Elev. 436 feet
Artie’s Pizza House Italian Restaurant is one of those places I found through pure providence, a sheer fluke. That was about eight years ago, right about the same time I discovered Marisco’s Uruapan, which is located about a mile and a half away.
I had gone to a 99¢ Store for something-or-other and, as I was leaving the little strip mall, a sign painted in a window of one of the shops caught my attention: “$4.99 Lunch Specials, all include soup or salad & soda.” You had your choice of pizza, spaghetti, wing — Wing? For the light eater? — or a sandwich. Because it was sort of an odd looking place, you know, the funky little hole-in-the-wall joints I’m preternaturally drawn to, I decided to try the spaghetti lunch special. How could I go wrong?
Well, I didn’t. I had the spaghetti — a giant plate — and it was fantastic, with a meat sauce that seemed to’ve come right out of an Italian granny’s kitchen, made from an old family recipe. Though it turned out the sauce was homemade using their own recipe and tasted authentically Italian, Artie’s is actually run by Mexicans. Is there anything Mexicans can’t cook?
That started my longtime patronization of Artie’s, which, at the time, was owned by a guy named Pete; I’m pretty sure his birth name was actually Pedro. The restaurant was opened years earlier by an Italian guy named Artie. There used to be a neat little sign with a picture of Artie and an explanation of why the place was still called Artie’s. But the sign is gone now, and so is Pete.
The first time I went to Artie’s they were giving away refrigerator magnets. I got one and attached it to the only thing on the yacht beside the engine that is actually made of metal: the satellite dish. The now well-traveled magnet has been there ever since.
For years I would go there and get Sausage and Peppers ($11.99) with great regularity. It is great stuff and the very generous portion comes with a giant hunk of garlic bread. This time, however, I got a large Roast Beef Dip (Spicy Italian Roast Beef & Beef Dip) sandwich ($8.55), which came with one of those chintzy little snack-size bags of potato chips.
I thought there could’ve been more meat (I always think there could be more meat) on it. I also didn’t think it was spicy. In fact, I thought it was basically a French Dip with chopped meat, with both au jus on the side and au jus inside; it looked like they had either dipped the meat or the French bread in the “Beef Dip.” Thankfully the “Beef Dip” was very good au jus and not akin to sheep dip, which is substantially different. The sandwich must’ve been good. I was intending to eat only half of it but once I got started I couldn’t stop.
The sandwich was complimented nicely by my big score that day. You see, I’ve become addicted to Dole Pineapple, Orange, Banana juice. I’d gone into a Food 4 Less in Barstow, California but they didn’t carry it. As I began to drive away I remembered that I’d been trying to find another of my addictions for months and months, Kern’s Banana Pineapple Nectar.
I’d looked all over the country for it. Hell, I even emailed Kern’s and asked if they still made it and, if so, where I could get it? They wrote back saying they still made it. Okay, I replied, where can I get it? I received crickets from Kern’s.
Anyway, I went back into the Food 4 Less and, not only did they carry it, the 11.5 oz. cans were on sale 3 for $1. Score. That’s the cheapest I’ve ever seen it — ever! I bought a case of it, naturally.
While the Roast Beef Dip sandwich was decent enough I still found myself thinking I should’ve gotten the Sausage and Peppers. Next time.
And so we roll.
Artie’s Pizza House, 423 N. Vincent Ave., Covina, California
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.