On a rainy Wednesday night last week, the kids and I were seated at a booth eating dinner at Nino’s Pizzarama at the corner of Blair Mill and Easton Roads. Two service men dressed in gray military fatigues came into the restaurant, and one of them gave a friendly wave to my 1-year-old daughter.
While she shyly waved back, I said, “Hi. And thank you.”
“Why are you saying thank you to those men, Mommy?” my inquisitive son asked.
He is only 3 years old, so I didn’t tell him that 10 years ago I lived in Washington, DC. When tragedy struck on Sept. 11, I left my office in suburban Virginia early, and took the Metro home.
When I got off the train downtown, after a brief stop at the smoky Pentagon station, I climbed the escalator to street level and exited straight into a ghost town. Usually bustling streets were deserted and traffic-free. Tanks and Humvees rolled slowly down K Street. While unnerving, the sight of the men and women in military uniform that frightening September afternoon made me feel more secure, and forever grateful.
My son is only 3 ,so I simply told him, “I said ‘thank you’ to those men because they work hard every day to help keep us safe.”
“Wow…,” he said, awestruck, and then promptly returned to munching his pepperoni pizza.
Life is so simple for a 3-year-old: If there is pizza, all is right with the world.
And there was lots of pizza at Nino’s Pizzarama. Partial pizza pies behind the glass counter showcased plain slices, buffalo chicken slices, cheesesteak slices, ziti slices, tomato pie and more, each one looking tastier than the next. We ordered a sampling, grabbed our drinks, and sat at one of the booths to wait for the food to be brought to our table.
The slices came out first ($2.10 each), all reheated on a circular metal pan, along with garlic knots the size of wiffle balls that were chewy, buttery and garlicky ($1.35).
A slice of Italian pizza added spinach, red peppers and squeezed tubes of dense ricotta to the top of white pizza. The tomato pie was moist, smooth and delicious with pockets of minced garlic atop crispy thin crust. The plain slice—with a thin layer of cheese covering herbed tomato sauce—was a hit with my daughter. Pepperoni topped the last slice, and it was happily picked off to be devoured first by my son.
While we were digging in, the rest of our order was delivered, and we took over the neighboring booth to hold it all. For our pepper cheesesteak ($6.95), we chose spicy banana peppers over sweet. One taste and my husband said, “I think I’ll get banana peppers on my steaks from now on.”
The cheese sat below the chopped beef, and though it wasn’t completely melted at first, by the time I made it to the last bite, the cheese had warmed enough to be liquefied. Hot and spicy, hot and drippy: our new standards for a tasty cheesesteak.
The side order of thin crisp French fries ($2.95) was tasty, but would have benefited from a good shake of salt as soon as they came out of the fryer. We added salt from the shaker on the table ourselves, but it didn’t stick very well.
Our Italian hoagie was overflowing with ham, salami, capicola, provolone cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and sliced onions ($6.45). We wanted mayonnaise instead of oil, and it was generously spread on the high quality long roll. We took most of it home, and it survived pretty well in the fridge until the next day.
By the time we were finished eating and had our leftovers wrapped up to go, the men in the fatigues had left Nino’s.
And though it has been just over 10 years since our country was touched by heartbreak on the grand scale, I am reminded each time I see uniformed military personnel that we do our simple everyday things, like enjoy a pizza, in the safety secured by their sacrifice. For that, I am truly grateful.
Nino’s Pizzarama earns 3 out of 5 Whisks for a variety of pizza, and our new favorite cheesesteak topping.
Second Helping of Information
Location – 2819 Easton Road, Willow Grove, PA 19090
Hours – Monday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Phone – 215-657-5222
Website – ninospizzarama.com
Reservations – Not available or necessary