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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gay Nineties Pizza Company: P-town history, abundantly!


Lunch date #12: April 20, 2012


We'd been hot on the trail of diversity, having tried a variety of "ethnic" foods such as Indian, Afghan, Greek, Vietnamese, and Japanese. Now it was time to settle into some good old American comfort food. What could be more cliché American than pizza and salad? Mom was interested in Gay 90's since we had passed by it so often and it looks inviting. (Gay Nineties Pizza Company, 288 Main Street, www.gayninetiespizza.com) She also knew that I had been a "ghost-host" for the Museum Halloween Ghost Tours, so I had some inside knowledge about the history of the location! Ranging from "Boo" on the mirror, to tales of spirits startling the family dog, and eerie stories about the "lady in blue" haunting the second floor window, this location does have an intriguing past. Also, there is a walled off, but still visible, entrance to the downtown Pleasanton tunnel system in the basement. One of the original downtown buildings, it was built in 1864 as a Wells Fargo Stage Coach Depot….and the upstairs rooms were even used as a brothel!

Location: 5 points…still downtown, so there you go. Enough said.

Can Can dancers overlook the patio
Old time pizza parlor interior
Ambiance: 4 points. We hit a beautiful warm afternoon. I had just finished playing tennis and was ready to relax in the shade. The patio area behind the restaurant is very cute: a mural of can-can dancing girls on one wall carries through the décor that begins inside with the tiffany style lamps, soda-fountain style tables and huge bar. We really did not linger inside at all, so can't comment on the interior, but the patio was fine. Plastic tables and chairs, but of course in a casual patio setting, quite acceptable. Thankfully there is a screen overhead that affords relief from the blazing sun on a warm afternoon.

Menu selection: 3.5 points. This is reportedly the first-ever pizza restaurant in the Pleasanton region and they still make their signature home-made sour dough thick crust. The menu is overall pretty simple: usual selection of pizzas-with some "gourmet" choices, salads, a few sandwiches and pasta dishes. Since I'm personally quite done with the usual pepperoni-style pizza, I encouraged the selection of one of their gourmet style pizzas. We chose a small "Lee's Special" pizza to share: chicken with artichokes and feta cheese. We also wanted to try another menu item and since Mom likes a Cobb salad, went with that.

Service: 3.5 points. Really quite good table service. They were quick to bring our iced-tea and even brought out a refill jar of ice and left the pitcher with us for easy refills. We grabbed menus as we walked through the interior, and then our server came by very promptly to take our order. Since we split the salad, and I'm not big on blue cheese, she brought out a bowl of blue cheese on the side for Mom, as well as two different salad dressings so we could each customize our salads to our liking. Biggest problem at Gay 90's: it takes a seriously long time to get your pizza. Perhaps that thick crust takes a while to bake—do they have slow ovens? It was not at all crowded, so I imagine the order could have been processed very quickly. Thank goodness we ordered the salad-which was brought out immediately—or we would have become rather cranky waiting 30+ minutes for the pizza.

 Mega sized Cobb Salad
Food: 3.5 points. The salad was served in a large bowl that appeared to be large enough for 3-4 people. It was good with crisp veggies and lots of avocado, turkey and bacon.  We also had garlic bread that was fair. The pizza was a bit disappointing. The Lee's Special was on the boring side and overall just fair. Don't think I'd order that particular choice again. Love their thick sour dough crust though-great flavor and texture. After that huge salad we were both pretty full…so by the time the pizza finally came, we each only sampled one slice. I took the rest home for the family to share for dinner.

Value: 3.5 points. This is a bit more difficult to critique. The portion size of the salad was considerably large—plenty for two to share and then more to take home. The cost was about $11—so had we only ordered and shared one salad, the value for the meal would have been excellent. The cost of a small pizza was approximately $21. That is pretty high for a 12 inch pizza; however again, had we only ordered that and shared it, the cost to each of us would have been in line with what we usually pay for lunch. Since we ordered both, we had a pretty expensive lunch. On the other hand, the ambiance of sitting on the patio, combined with good service, made for a pleasant dining experience. 

Overall score for Gay 90's Pizza Company: 3.8 points. This downtown Pleasanton icon still serves up a pretty good lunch in a pleasant location. Having been open for business for so many years, while not the trendy downtown "foodie" spot, it still is a good choice for a nice lunch date with your favorite dining companion!  

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