First let me define late-night eating.
Any time you are looking for food after midnight, you have entered the realm of late-night eating. I am not condoning late-night eating on a regular basis, but if you have a craving, who am I to tell you no?
After visiting Travis Coffee Shop last week, I started thinking about late-night eating. There have to be other options. There's nothing wrong with Travis, but their menu doesn't stray much from classic diner fare.
What if pizza is on your mind? Travis doesn't have it, but have no fear. A journey north on Harper will satiate your pizza craving.
Walking into G Willies is like entering a rec hall. High ceilings, minimal decoration, and the floor looks like it came from a grade school cafeteria. This is not a swanky club. G Willies borders on being a dive, but there is nothing wrong with that.
There's also nothing wrong with $2, 16-ounce cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Dive bars serve dive beers. There is Magic Hat #9 on tap as well as some Leinenkugel's, but in the absence of Michigan beer, I revert to PBR. Besides, PBR and pizza is a classic combination.
The menu has all of the usual bar food suspects including an extensive array of deep-fried goodies, hamburgers, sandwiches and some dinner items. Pizza has made G Willies famous, so without fail I gravitated toward the 'za.
Three types of pizza are on the menu: thin crust, flame-grilled thin crust and square deep dish. For the sake of thoroughness, a flame-grilled thin crust and square deep dish were sampled.
And to complete the meal, an antipasto salad seemed like a good choice. A good antipasto salad will have lots of ham, salami, and cheese along with tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives and chick peas. Dress it with a tangy Italian-style vinaigrette and it becomes a smashing salad.
G Willies' version is not so stunning, though. Iceberg lettuce is topped with cheese, salami, ham, and a couple (literally two) grape tomatoes. Nothing else. Basically an Italian sub without the bread, the flavor is overwhelmingly salty. Even with the piquant dressing, the salty meats and cheese are just too much.
Grilled pizza is usually a summer dish since it is cooked on a barbecue. While not easy to master, homemade grilled pizza tastes incredible with its crisp, charred crust.
For some reason though, G Willies grilled pizza doesn't deliver. The crust comes out dry and burnt (not charred, there is a difference). The toppings taste warmed over instead of hot. Also, with a pizza name like Angry Guido, there had better be some heat.
Alas, hardly any kick to be found. On a pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, banana peppers, onion and red pepper flakes, the lack of spiciness is alarming. Add more pepper flakes, maybe some jalapeno and you might have a winner, although the crust's odd texture may take away from any toppings.
The deep dish, though, is a totally different story. Arguing between the merits of thin versus thick crust can prove futile, and while I enjoy both types, I find myself wanting deep dish more than thin crust.
G Willies makes a fine deep dish pizza. Dense, crunchy yet chewy crust is generously topped with sauce, cheese, and your choice of toppings.
The Joey B. has fried eggplant, spinach, and garlic and herb ricotta cheese. An interesting combination to say the least. The fried eggplant doesn't really work on pizza. Fresh eggplant would have been better. However, this is a small point since 90 percent of pizza's greatness comes from the crust.
Deep dish pizza takes a while to cook, so expect to wait 15 minutes for your pizza. It is definitely worth the wait. The audible crunch coupled with the satisfying chew of well cooked pizza is a wonderful thing.
Late-night cravings can take on many manifestations. G Willies will satisfy your deep dish pizza craving without a doubt.
Cheap beer, good pizza—there isn't much more to add. But really, what else do you need?