by Alice Levitt
165 East Allen Street, Winooski 655-0290
Baby, it's cold outside, and sometimes the best antidote is getting takeout and eating it on the couch while watching "Bridalplasty." At least that's what I did last night. By all appearances I was being slothful, but, really, I was doing some culinary exploration.
You see, after living in Winooski for four years, I had still never tried Waf's West Side Deli. It wasn't for lack of trying. Waf's and I were like that friend you can never get on the phone because your schedules simply don't match up. I do much of my dining out on weekends or in the later evening. Waf's is closed Saturday and Sunday and locks up for the night at 8 p.m.
Last night, the quirky little deli and I finally converged. At 7:30 p.m., the place was packed with locals who were watching the TV news and discussing, as a group, everything from Jack Lalanne's physique to the necessity of public executions. They drank beer from the tap, Switchback and Budweiser alike.
But I had a date with some bad TV. I ordered the meatball pizza to go. On the way home its smell filled my car so seductively that, as you can see, I snagged a piece before I could remember to take a picture.
The crust crackled appealingly, but other than that, I have to say that I was underwhelmed. The sauce, which smelled tangy, barely had a taste. The meatballs were nicely seasoned but dry. The salty cheese made my slice more palatable, but I definitely wasn't grabbing another. Too bad. At $8.75 for a 12-inch pie, it was a stellar deal.
So was the green salad. It was $5.64 and filled its large plastic container nearly to bursting. I'll probably be eating the suitably fresh-tasting lettuce, tomato, carrots and cucumbers all week. I will continue to push aside the thick coating of mozerella on top. A little cheese on a salad doesn't bother me, but this was so thick that at times I had trouble finding the veggies. I was also disappointed in "Waf's famous house vinaigrette." I think I might have gotten a bum batch. There was no detectable vinegar taste, just seasoned olive oil.
The saving grace of the meal was the Moroccan chicken pita. The fresh, chewy wrap was easily more than a foot long. The pleasures of the spicy, cumin-scented chicken, which was baked before my eyes in the pizza oven, just kept on coming.
The mild hummus is made in-house by owner Waf Khouri's wife, Saada. The flavor was mild, and worked more like tahini-flavored mayonnaise than a protein in its own right. Shreds of lettuce and slices of tomato were juicy companions to the spicy meat. Mildly flavored olives added little more than salt and texture.
Next time I'm home alone with just the Tivo and some bad TV, I think I may also have a date with a Moroccan chicken pita.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.