Jim’s Pizza House has been an institution on the Bedford Highway for as long as I can remember. The long, narrow restaurant perches overlooking the rail tracks and the Bedford Basin. Forget trying to find a parking spot at 5pm, when all the early birds come out to eat.
The front half of Jim’s, the original part, is like a diner: a long counter lined with stools, a milkshake machine, booths along the other wall and a pass-through window into the kitchen that lets you see the short-order cooks at work.
There’s something beautiful about watching an experienced kitchen team doing their work during busy times—it’s more like a dance (if you picture big, hairy guys in t-shirts and aprons dancing) as they bob and weave around each other, plating up the nightly specials and sliding them across the counter for the wait staff to pick up. The back half is the dining room, with windows looking over the water and a patio in the summer.
Jim’s menu, like most Greek-owned family restaurants, features a broad range of items (not just pizza), from seafood to steaks to Greek specialties like stuffed peppers and moussaka. And like most eateries of its ilk, there’s a list of daily specials, which come with soup and rice pudding or Jell-O; the meals are all large portions, cheap and filling.
I have worked my way through most of the menu and never had a really bad meal here, although of course there are some things that truly stand out, the first being the clams and chips (small $9.95).
Two words: Best Ever. Never greasy, rubbery or undercooked. And they’re big clams, too, a crazy big pile of them. Liver lovers (a closeted group, but I know you’re out there) rejoice—Jim’s liver ($7.95) is tender, plentiful and topped with sautéed onions or bacon.
There are always two soups of the day to choose from and you really can’t go wrong. Whether it’s split pea, garden vegetable, chicken with rice—all the soups taste like they came from your Mom’s kitchen (if your Mom is not such a good cook, insert a good cook’s name here). Sometimes they could stand a little more salt and pepper, but at least there’s no artificial soup base taste.
Oddly enough, for all the times I’ve eaten at Jim’s Pizza House, I’ve never had the pizza, nor have I seen it on anyone else’s table. Tonight, I’m going to find out if the namesake dish is as good as everything else. We order a small with the works ($9.25) and a large Caesar salad ($5.75).
The salad, big enough for four as a starter, is delicious, with a thick garlic dressing, plenty of bacon bits and soggy (too bad) croutons.
The pizza has a fat crust, weighed down with pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and bacon. Lots of cheese and a zesty sauce and I’m left to conclude that the pizza, though more expensive than typical take-out pizzas, is certainly up to standards.
The service here, as you can probably guess, is always friendly and homey, with lots of “dears” and “honeys”; nothing is ever a problem and while something might be forgotten during a busy spell, it’ll be brought eventually, with lots of apologies.
The t-shirts worn by the cooks sum the experience up best: “There are two places to eat: Jim’s and home.”
Jim’s Pizza House243 Bedford Highway443-6112Sun-Thurs 8am-10pmFri-Sat 8am-11pm
When home’s not working for you and you need some good dinner advice, you can always find Liz Feltham online at www.foodcritic.ca.