It’s good to be back in The Queen City, where my allergies are a good two weeks behind Delaware. There are, of course, other things I absolutely love about Burlington: the mountains everywhere, the Lake looming, the chill in the air at night. It also seems as though I’m luckier here than back home. Things sometimes just fall into my lap here; one of my favorite hats was just sitting in the road waiting for me when I first found it. It was clean enough, and in good condition, so I took it home and nursed it back to health. I was once handed a freshly steamed lobster in Champlain’s dining hall before being announced to the (fairly large) room that I was the first winner of “The Lobster Lottery” (other people were also given lobsters). Smaller things have been happening since I’ve been back, but it’s like a switch turned back on. I promise, it all just happens to me, but if I try to lean into it, it stops.
Luck has a habit of binge unpredictable, but Big Daddy’s doesn’t. I’ve been ordering their delivery (usually between midnight and two A.M.) for five years, as of this month, and I still haven’t gotten enough of what they’re cooking.
What they’re cooking could be called third-generation Italian fare. The food is all very American, but the place seems like it’s run with an Italian restaurant’s mentality. The portions are generous, the ingredients fresh (particularly the breads), the flavors consistent, and the hours just might be the best. Big Daddy’s closes an hour after every late-night delivery restaurant I can think of in the Burlington area. That was the original reason their wonderful cuisine found me: it was 1:30 AM on a weeknight.
My go-to order is a 20-inch White Buffalo pizza. For those of you following along, you’ll notice that there was literally no way I could ever have ordered anything else the first time I looked at the menu. Most white pizza has a base made with olive oil, garlic, and oregano, which usually simply replaces the red sauce. Some white bases are more like an alfredo sauce, with a dairy component. Big Daddy’s has both of these options. The dairy-free one is their garlic base. The other option, with dairy, is a ranch base. Normally, it’s against my upbringing to eat ranch with buffalo chicken, but when that ranch is a pizza base, I’m comfortable making an exception, and I’ve never regretted it. When, however, I order their incredible Jumbo Wings, I make sure they know just how much blue cheese dressing I’ll need to get through the sizeable portions they serve.
It was my pleasure last night to enter Big Daddy’s Church Street location for the first time. I knew vaguely what to expect: a counter with premade pizzas and a register, some tables, and not much else. It turns out I was only mostly right. There’s also a low bar along the front wall, which is actually a garage door they definitely leave open through the Summer. I look forward to being around for Summer nights in downtown Burlington; I hear they’re to die for. I was sitting with three other people, and during the time it took us to eat our food, everyone at the table reacted positively to at least one song that came on. The walls are filled with posters of all sorts, including a Nuka-Cola sign. It’s so much more fun to hang out in a place designed for my demographic, and the difference that it makes surprises me.
I’ll be back in Delaware next week. Not so much a shame as a fact of life, and good for the circles in which I run thereabouts. It isn’t long before I’m up here in Burlington full time, though. Who knows what adventures await me this summer…