The COVID-19 pandemic has been absolutely detrimental to restaurants, both locally and across the country — which is why we’re pleasantly surprised by ones that not only opened but also seemed to thrive during the year from hell.
Happy Pappy’s Pizza-N-Wings, on Durango’s North Main Avenue, is one such restaurant. It makes sense that if any place would be ideally suited for a period of time in which people can’t dine-in at full numbers it’d be a pizza joint. As a food, pizza is practically synonymous with takeout and delivery.
This pizzeria in particular opened on Aug. 26 in the spot at 2411 Main Ave. formerly occupied by Three Peaks Deli & Grill.
Naturally, we had to try them out.
The only thing we knew about the pizza going in was that its dough recipe hailed from the South.
“It’s a second-generation recipe. It has a little more sugar in it. We’re from Georgia and we like our sugar,” owner Mark Anderson told the Durango Herald.
As such, when we ordered a couple of pizzas — a BBQ Chicken pizza and a Deluxe pizza to be exact — we expected them to be abnormally sweet. This was not the case. While we trust Anderson’s assertion that there is more sugar in the mix, the crust of both pizzas tasted pretty normal and had a relatively standard texture. If any defining quality stood out about the crust, it was its puffiness. It provided a pillowy bed for the rest of the ingredients.
When sampling the crust alone, eating a piece that cheese and sauce hadn’t touched, we thought we detected the barest hint of extra sweetness. But more likely, this was our brain imagining something for which it was actively searching.
We chose the BBQ Chicken as a sort of test. Any pizzeria worth its salt can make a pie with marinara sauce, but once you start switching that up, it’s interesting to see how they adapt. And Happy Pappy’s passed the test. While we wouldn’t hold it up against a barbecue pizza from, say, Kansas City, it certainly holds its own against its peers in the Four Corners.
The barbecue sauce itself was sweet and ever-so-slightly spicy — pretty much how we expected it, given that the restaurant also specializes in wings. The rest of the pizza was simple: tender, smoked chicken and red onions. The cheese to everything else ratio was also great, neither too much nor too little.
We don’t have much else to add about the Deluxe pizza. It was dense with toppings — Italian sausage, pepperoni, yellow onions, green peppers, and mushrooms — and they all seemed fresh. The marinara sauce hit the spot without distracting from everything else.
The standout element of our Happy Pappy’s meal was the wings. When you order, the eatery gives you seven different options of wing sauces: BBQ Sauce, Teriyaki, Mango Habañero, Xtra Hot (this one comes with a warning), Red Dragon, Garlic Parmesan, and Regular Buffalo.
Considering the similarly-named novel introduced the world to a famously adventurous eater (*cough* Hannibal Lecter *cough*), we went with Red Dragon. It was quite spicy, though presumably not as much as “Xtra Hot,” and had a vaguely Asiatic taste to it. We think part of the flavor was sriracha, but don’t quote us on that. The meat was moist and fell right off the bone. The wings came with a breadstick, presumably for mopping up leftover sauce, which was a nice touch.
Ultimately, the pizza and wings were delicious. As with all local restaurants, we hope Happy Pappy’s survives the pandemic. It has a self-pour tap well with three Ska beers, three national-brand beers, red wine, and hard seltzer, and we think we could have some fun with it once we can dine in again.