I had a distant cousin who used to say he was “nutsy” about things he liked. I would like to be nutsy about Wheaton’s Nut House Pizza (11419 Georgia), but I just can’t do it.
Giving bad reviews to small locally owned restaurants kind of stinks, but I try to stay on top of all the eatin’ in Wheaton, and that means some occasional negativity. I’m generally positive about this neck of the woods, but I don’t want to turn into a mindless cheerleader. Most restaurants around here are, legitimately, at least adequate (especially now that Pashion has gone kaput). If you look on Yelp or the other internets you can find people who rave about NHP, saying it’s the best crust ever, people come from NYC to eat it, that kind of over-the-topness that would be hilarious if it weren’t kind of sad.* These are the kind of reviews that you wonder if they’re planted. Because NHP’s crust is not the best ever — if it isn’t the worst ever, it’s in the conversation.
* There are many more single-star Yelp reviews for NHP, which seems more on target to me
The truth is, I haven’t eaten their pizza since we first tried it about ten years ago, when it was inedibly bad. On a recent visit, I opted not to retry it, noting the single sad desiccated slice of cheese pizza sitting in the warming bin up front. It might be the same slice that was there ten years ago. It’s thin crust, New York style, but a far cry from typical New York quality. It is kosher — “under rabbinical supervision” says the sign — and maybe it is delicious relative to the average kosher pizza, I don’t know. I don’t need to try it again.
Instead, I tried the reuben sub and some fries, which weren’t inedible, but weren’t good either. The sub featured neon orange “Russian” dressing (which I admit I kind of like, a guilty pleasure), mediocre sauerkraut, quick-congealing white tasteless cheese that in retrospect I should have used to touch up the caulking in my shower instead of eating, and a thin slice of dry, pressed corned beef (presumably), although it was more like a weirdly spiced bologna. I assume it was somehow related to corned beef, otherwise it can’t be a reuben, right? Not good. The roll was actually a winner, crusty outside and soft inside, and could have been the framework for a delicious sandwich, but the other ingredients just didn’t measure up.
The fries smelled good, and looked fresh-cut and similar to Five Guys potatoes, but turned out to be wan and undersalted. Ira’s Famous Nut House Seasoning (according to the sign behind which the lonely pizza slice lies in its eternal gloom) doesn’t have much going on. Assuming that’s what was on the fries. There was discernible seasoning, it just wasn’t that tasty.
Nut House is a total dive, all plastic and formica and tile and old-school signage, and that would be fine — even great! — if the food were awesome. The place is usually empty, and was on this mid-week visit except for one woman, who I suspect was the wife of the counterman. He was perfectly friendly and efficient, but that makes up for only so much. He was not Ira Feldman, the owner – or at least that was the owner when Patch did this writeup almost exactly two years ago. If he’s still in charge, he seems to have lost interest. If you compare the photos from Patch to my first photo here, in just two years, signage has noticeably physically deteriorated. Alas, the food was never good enough in the first place to noticeably deteriorate.
Maybe I should consider it a blessing that they were out of knishes, which I had hoped to buy for next day’s breakfast. How can a kosher food purveyor ever be out of knishes? Shouldn’t they have a little cooler in the back with a few knishes at all times, in case of knish emergency? What happened to the rabbinical supervision? Surely any rabbi worth his pillars of salt would keep knishes on hand at all times.
Sort of amazing they’re still operational, although I would guess they do a pretty good business with the thriving local Orthodox community — then again, wouldn’t you just go to the far superior Max’s instead? — and their rent is probably low. Revisiting after ten years seemed appropriate, but in retrospect Moses had a better idea with his forty years wandering the wilderness. He must have been filibustering, knowing Nut House Pizza awaited him back in the holy land. Wheaton may be feral, but there are better options than Nut House. Almost any option is better than Nut House. Which is a bummer, because we could really use a great pizzeria in this town.
For a higher-quality Nut House experience, head to Antonio’s Nut House in Palo Alto, where the beer is good and you can buy peanuts from an animatronic gorilla. Less convenient for us Wheatonites, of course…