Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review: Jack's Pizza & Pasta, Frazer PA

For a few years, I’ve driven along the seedy stretch of Lancaster Avenue (Route 30) in Frazer that spans from Malvern to Exton.  There’s a bunch of pizza joints, but none look especially promising. Searching around the food blogs, the only one that got a lot of attention was Jack’s Pizza & Pasta, at 577 Lancaster Avenue. You can’t trust everything you read on food blogs (except this one!) but the consensus seemed to be: good, not great, pizza, and world-class cheesesteaks.
Click any picture to enlarge!

On a Friday night, EPBAC (eats pizza but avoids cheese) and I had taken VACK (vegetable-avoiding college kid) used-car shopping. That effort took us late enough into the evening that we did not feel like cooking. Our route home took us conveniently past Jack's, so it was time to find out about their wares.
Outside Jack's

Business was slow, winding down, around 8pm as we arrived. The counterman was friendly and helpful. We HAD to try the pizza, so we got two slices of the sausage-pepperoni pie. EPBAC ordered fries and the chicken steak (no cheese) with hot peppers; VACK went for cheesesteak with American cheese and hot peppers; I selected cheesesteak with American cheese and hot peppers on the side.
Interior at Jack's

The pizza, waiting on the counter, had looked decidedly ordinary.  Heated quickly, it arrived first and we dove in to it as our appetizer.

 It was not a stiff crust, and that compelled me to eat the first few bites with knife and fork. I reject, with extreme prejudice, the notion of folding a slice of pizza. Turning your slice into a sandwich gives you only the initial sensation of crust up and crust down.  Pizza is a three way sensory experience; you need crust on bottom while you put teeth and taste buds (not to mention olfactory receptors) to the sauce and cheese.
The sausage-pepperoni slice

This was an extremely greasy pie – oil oozed from the pepperoni, the sausage, the cheese. I was the only crust snob in the group, and I found the crust to be of ordinary, perhaps even Sysco, origin. But it had been cooked to a satisfying crispness and we all agreed the pie was very good. Not magic, but about as good as you can get with ordinary pizza-shop ingredients.  A reveal of the underside showed a honeycomb pattern common to lesser pies, but it did not diminish its overall merit.
Pretty ordinary down under

Meanwhile, I found the fries to be above average in flavor and texture. EPBAC loved them, declaring “better than McDonald’s” although I’m sure there must be higher praise for well-executed fries.
EPBAC could not finish this enormous chicken cheesesteak

Soon, the sandwiches arrived. They were massive, but I easily inhaled mine. I was delighted to see that my hot peppers were not the common red and green ones, but thin rings of mildly hot yellow banana peppers; they were  a delicious way to complement, not overwhelm, the savory beef and grilled onions.  I have a slight preference for whole slabs of beef, but this one was chopped into small pieces. Importantly, this was not a strategy here to disguise inferior gristly beef; this stuff was tender and tasty and gristle-free. Even at 8pm, the bread was soft and fresh. It was softer than ideal for me, but still a good basis for this sandwich.
I inhaled this cheesesteak
The excellent, albeit soft, roll

Jack’s is a dive, for sure, but in all the good ways. Good execution of important Philly-region fast food staples, fair prices, friendly and fast service. The pizza earns a 6.5. The cheesesteaks were superb, but a slight step down from Chester County’s best (Pepper Mill) and the surprising Appetites on Main in Exton. Let’s go with an 8 for the sandwiches. Service was a 10. Overall, we were very glad, and filled, to have stopped at Jack’s, and we will be back.
Jack's Pizza & Pasta on Urbanspoon


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