Dude Food: Joe's Pizza, Pasta & Subs

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Joe's Pizza, Pasta & Subs
4300 Matlock Road, Arlington

Dude Factor: 8, or Joe Pesci, on a scale of 1 (Joe Jonas) to 10 (Joe DiMaggio)

Located in a strip center next to an acupuncture office promising "Pain $55," Joe's was the only non-chain restaurant we could find last night in an otherwise T.G.I. Starbucks-plagued area off Interstate 20 in Arlington.

Or so we thought at the time; according to Joe's Web site, the Arlington location is part of a chain -- though the number of franchises has dwindled to two.

Chain or not, though, the restaurant has the right combination of football on TV, greasy food, cute waitresses and go-screw-yourself attitude to make it a Dude Food destination.

Refreshingly, it offers no pretense of upscale aspirations. The canisters of garlic powder on each table seem to say, "What, you don't think there's enough garlic in the food? Here's your fucking garlic, asshole. Add it yourself." Then there are the to-go menus. Listed below the dine-in hours are the delivery hours, with the word "Free" blacked out with a marker. And it's not as if these are glossy color brochures that would have been expensive to reprint--they're just black-and-white copies. "Free delivery? Not for you, asshole."

At least they were generous with the bread, though. Some Italian places will put out a basket of two or three slices. Ours had three entire hoagie-sized loaves.

I ordered the Combo Dish, which promised manicotti, cannelloni, ravioli, ziti and eggplant. It was a decision I immediately regretted when I saw a fellow diner's enormous floppy New York-style pizza--which started at just $2 a slice.

My illusion that the combo dish would be five distinct entree samples on a plate was shattered when it arrived, proving to be a casserole dish full of boiling tomato sauce and a mess of assorted noodles sheathed in a thick slab of cheese. The sauce was nicely sweet if a bit bland, but a few shakes from the red pepper shaker remedied that. The single ravioli pillow proved to be the only meat in the dish. But with the enormous dish size and the oversized bread service, I still had to throw in the napkin before finishing.

Pasta-wise, it's no more special than the cheap prices -- only the fettuccini alfredo with shrimp breaks the double-digit mark -- would indicate. But the pizza and the attitude makes it worth a return visit.

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