It’s time for another edition of 757 Doesn’t Suck. This week we’re headed to Chin’s Cafe for their weekly restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Norfolk Ramen.
I came across this place completely by accident. During weekend downtime I tend to lounge around on a family-oriented internet forum about cats and knitting. They have a subforum dedicated to food which I pop into every two weeks or so when I want to drool over photos people take of the things they’ve cooked. It really is amazing how many people keep a DSLR in their kitchen. There was a thread titled “Norfolk Ramen” and, like anyone who has a chip on their shoulder about living in a medium-sized metro, I just assumed it had something to do with the Norfolk in the U.K. As it turned out, the thread was about Chin’s Cafe on Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk, VA – served me right for assuming otherwise. Every Sunday Chin’s serves a selection of ramen noodle bowls in addition to their regular menu and call it Norfolk Ramen.
I’m starting up a new feature here on the Manliness where I defend the honor of my home metro. Look, we know we’re not a major city like DC. We have a giant body of water dividing the southside and the peninsula, the Navy won’t let us build bridges that don’t have tunnel sections, and the southside’s main west-to-east artery, Interstate 264, is an abominable mix of a driveway and a minefield. I hire a Sherpa guide every time I drive on it. But we have like 7 miles of light rail! That’s pretty cool, right? And if there’s an inch of snow on the ground everyone pretends not to know where to get some sand, so we all get a day off of work and school. Yes, kids, there are things here that are worth liking. For my first entry: Gianna’s Pizza in Suffolk.
Gianna’s is in Harbour View, this development that’s been slowly building up since 2000. Originally there was just a movie theater that you could see from the interstate (I remember seeing it when I did drivers’ ed), then they added a Wal-Mart on the other side of I-664, and they’d been adding things ever since. Harbour View houses the only Panera Bread convenient to my house. Gianna’s is on the western side of the interstate, in a strip mall anchored by a Harris Teeter, one of the few chain grocery stores where someone from 757 can comfortably park their Aston Martin DB9. They have a fancy cheese section.
Pizza in Hampton Roads tends to suck. If you want it delivered to your house, your choices are generally the national triumvirate of Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa Johns, our local pizza conglomerate Chanello’s, and some wild card local to your house. In our case the wild card is Vinny’s, who make decent pizza and will deliver zeppolis to your house. Vinny’s has this Achilles’ heel, though – it has to be delivered, and you never know if you’re the first house or the fifth house on their route. I’ve lived in this condo for more than four years and good pizza has been an issue the entire time. When I saw Gianna’s open in Harbour View, I was curious. A look at their very positive Urban Spoon profile made me even moreso, so the girl and I decided to give them a shot one Thursday night. Continue reading