I pretty much had given up on pizza during my recent Destin family vacation. That was until my nephew, Tayster, came home one night all excited about a place he discovered. The Snob had previously noticed the tiny JB’s Pizza to Po’boys storefront tucked in between Badass Coffee and a Dairy Queen on the main beach road. Visually, it just carried no Snob appeal since its mention of pizza sounded no more than a sideline to po’boys, salads and wings. But, Tay had met the cook who told him how great their wings and pizza were. Praising them in that order was another turn off, but I didn’t want to disappoint my young nephew by not following his lead.
The next day, my son, The Kid, and I grabbed our afternoon iced coffees at Badass and went next store to check out at JB’s. Unfortunately, they had stopped making slices at 2pm, and it was too early for a whole pie. But, I was impressed by what I saw. The guy making pizza behind the counter spread the dough, circularly-ladled on the tomato sauce and laid out the cheese like he knew what he was doing. We needed to come back during tomorrow’s 11am to 2pm slice window.
A day later, with a Badass iced coffee in hand, I went inside to order a slice. In plain view behind the counter was an extra-large slice pie that was half cheese and half peperoni. The plain cheese slice ($3.00) I requested was given quite an attentive reheat. However, I watched with some surprise as the chef noticed, and did nothing, about the fact that my slice was on the border of the pie differential and had a full row on peps on its edge! What if I was a violent vegetarian activist? In my normal Southern unconfrontational demeanor, I said nothing although I was rather shocked.
Looking over this hybrid slice, my thoughts became kinder. I could not believe how much this long, thin and crisp slice resembled what I recently discovered and labelled “The Denver Slice.” Very similar, JB’s slice was marvelously solid with one of the best chars I have ever seen. This was a darn good slice of pizza despite having to deal with some juice from the unwanted peps and the unneeded sprinkling of parm cheese on top. The cooked also basted the end crust with oil before he gave it to me. It was like he knew who I was and was going out of his way to make this slice special despite the peps blunder.
The slice was toasted so crisp and solid that the dark char was showing on the thin top end crust. The almost solid black bottom was toasted just to the point of perfection before reaching burnt-taste status–a fabulous reheat for sure. This was really a delicious slice with its only real failures being a throw-away dead-tasting end crust, some cheese slippage and being a little on the oily side. Its overall good flavor and excellent execution made me come close to going back for another.
After this great experience, the situation arose for our last dinner in Destin as an extended-family unit. My suggestion for us all to make an evening outing to JB’s was surprisingly approved. While they are more of a delivery and take-out than dine-in joint, JBs does have a large front patio of stone tables and chairs under patio umbrellas. I figured if we called ahead and timed it right, our group of eleven would be able to comfortably dine al fresco in the cool evening beach air.
My plan worked perfectly, and as promised, about an hour later, I carried our five pizza boxes out front to the ample table space we had secured. But, shock hit when I opened one of the plain cheeses to see a pizza as white as snow. My fabulous afternoon pizza was replaced by a much less desirable evening one. While I have experienced the dreaded “Slice to Pie Syndrome” in the past as a result of the wonders of a good toasty reheat, the JB’s situation was more likely the result of a different cook.
There was way too much cheese on top of the tomato sauce and this excess quantity of cheese just made it near impossible for these two to get to know each other. The crust was also thicker and not at all crisp. Although the family seemed to enjoy it, this was a major disappointment from my afternoon slice. Still, it was better than any chain pizza and overall not that bad for the beach despite being soft, cheesy and doughy. It was though like I had gone to a different pizza place than before.
In talking with the lady at the counter, JB’s had a busy evening like they had never experienced. Perhaps with a little better planning and some tips from the afternoon cook, JB’s can make a better evening pie. It’s still a place I would recommend to beach-goers, since the Destin area is far from being a pizza-lovers paradise.
P.S. Note the Snob’s dual rating on this one.
PIZZA SNOB RATING **** Near Perfection (for the Afternoon Slice)
PIZZA SNOB RATING *** Better Than Dominos (for the Evening Pie)
JB’s Pizza to Po’boys
1688 Scenic Gulf Drive
Miramar Beach, FL 32550