Hungry Howie’s is where I choose to begin the ‘broccoli and chocolate’ adventure as it’s a good, solid, established Hayward locale that’s been around the block and back again. Often overlooked, this tiny take away joint stands proud with its blindingly bright yellow sign along Mission Boulevard, smooshed between the Hayward Plunge (or, as I call it, The Dive) and an ever-faithful 7-Eleven. I’m not sure how long this particular Howie’s has been in operation, but I am sure that it’s changed since I was a teenager.
Hungry Howie’s was the go-to cheap pizza place in my heyday and it seems to have evolved into a full-blown, semi-classy venue since then. I swear pizzas used to be around $5 when I was 14, and that wasn’t all that long ago. Ok, maybe it was. The point is that HH’s is apparently on an upswing and, as a company, has been for the last 30 years. Their website is pretty chic (with flash and everything!) and from their bio it sounds like they’ve been doing something right.
As I said, this stuff was a primary food group for many local high school kids back in the 90’s, and I submit that it has since changed. Yes they still wave the patented “Flavored Crust” wand over our heads to make our eyes grow wide with wonder (butter cheese crust, you say?). Yes they’re still in the same relatively undesirable location, no doubt flinching every time the front door bell rings at night. But they’ve definitely stepped it up a notch, at least as far as my memory serves.
For starters, my large cheese pizza was $9.88, and that was with a discount. Normally it would have been $10.99 without tax, but I’m so savvy that I finagled a discount in exchange for pick-up instead of delivery. I may be exaggerating, but I seriously recall a pizza being almost half that price before. Oh well, they’re more expensive, big deal. It’s still a reasonable price and the facility was spotless and well-managed, and let’s face it, there’s probably been some inflation since 1997.
But really, the prime concern is about the quality of the pizza, is it not? I remember thinking it was great for the price when I was young, but it’s often hard to assign a high value to something you know is cheap. Plus, my tastes were probably not nearly as mature and refined as they are now (snoot, snoot). So, the pizza cost more – was it good value and quality? I give it a “meh”. It was decent. Nothing particularly special but certainly not bad. It was different from how I remember and I think that our pizza on this particular occasion may have been left in the oven just a tad too long.
I won’t be harsh, it tasted good; we were satisfied. But it was not excellent and, for that price, I probably wouldn’t go back often. I am thinking about giving it another chance though – maybe we just got a rushed one, maybe I’ll come around to it. They do offer delivery in a rather generous radius and the flavored crust thing is neat even if it’s a bit of a gimmick. And, the dude that runs the Hayward one is super nice and appears to know his footing in a pizza kitchen. So, overall I will say it was decent but nothing to write home about* and reserve full judgment for another day and another post.
*It is, however, clearly something to blog about.