Iâ€™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 34Â° 5.3479â€™ W 117Â° 55.5339â€™ Elev. 436 feet
Artieâ€™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 Mariscoâ€™s Uruapan, which is located about a mile and a half away.
I had gone to a 99Â¢ 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: â€œ$4.99 Lunch Specials, all include soup or salad & soda.â€ You had your choice of pizza, spaghetti, wing â€” Wing? For the light eater? â€” or a sandwich. Because it was sort of an odd looking place, you know, the funky little hole-in-the-wall joints Iâ€™m preternaturally drawn to, I decided to try the spaghetti lunch special. How could I go wrong?
Well, I didnâ€™t. I had the spaghetti â€” a giant plate â€” and it was fantastic, with a meat sauce that seemed toâ€™ve come right out of an Italian grannyâ€™s kitchen, made from an old family recipe. Though it turned out the sauce was homemade using their own recipe and tasted authentically Italian, Artieâ€™s is actually run by Mexicans. Is there anything Mexicans canâ€™t cook?
That started my longtime patronization of Artieâ€™s, which, at the time, was owned by a guy named Pete; Iâ€™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 Artieâ€™s. But the sign is gone now, and so is Pete.
The first time I went to Artieâ€™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 couldâ€™ve been more meat (I always think there could be more meat) on it. I also didnâ€™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 â€œBeef Dip.â€ Thankfully the â€œBeef Dipâ€ was very good au jus and not akin to sheep dip, which is substantially different. The sandwich mustâ€™ve been good. I was intending to eat only half of it but once I got started I couldnâ€™t stop.
The sandwich was complimented nicely by my big score that day. You see, Iâ€™ve become addicted to Dole Pineapple, Orange, Banana juice. Iâ€™d gone into a Food 4 Less in Barstow, California but they didnâ€™t carry it. As I began to drive away I remembered that Iâ€™d been trying to find another of my addictions for months and months, Kernâ€™s Banana Pineapple Nectar.
Iâ€™d looked all over the country for it. Hell, I even emailed Kernâ€™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 Kernâ€™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. Thatâ€™s the cheapest Iâ€™ve ever seen it â€” ever! I bought a case of it, naturally.
While the Roast Beef Dip sandwich was decent enough I still found myself thinking I shouldâ€™ve gotten the Sausage and Peppers. Next time.
And so we roll.
Artieâ€™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.