Monday, October 22, 2012

Casey's General Store

10544 Hwy 21
Hillsboro, MO

The Place:
Casey's General Store is a regular fixture in many of the Midwest's small towns. There are over 1700  of them, over three hundred in Missouri alone. There is only one in Kentucky, none in Maryland, and Tennessee is about to get its first in Dyersburg. Here though, it seems every little town has one.
What is it exactly? Well there's no way to put this more delicately, it's a convenience store. The one in Hillsboro is next to the car wash. There's nothing fancy about it.
In a small town though, a convenience store is a little more than a highway stopping-off place. Casey's recognizes this. We have other convenience stores in Hillsboro and they are nice too, some bigger and more modern. I'll admit I don't go to our Casey's much, in my opinion their gas pumps are too slow.
Those times I do stop in though they are busy, the customers are locals, and the trade is pretty heavy. It's not that I'd ever said to the family "Let's all gussy ourselves up in our Sunday-go-to-meetin's and dine in at the Casey's!" It's a convenience store.
This weekend presented a logistical problem. Not only was it my turn in the work on-call rotation, but there was scheduled maintenance activity for 4 to 6 P.M.  In the Corporate IT world that means for me, more like 3-7 P.M. since it takes extra time to prepare and extra time to wrap up. The work was not especially hard, but it would require my undivided presence at the laptop on the dining room table. A miracle of technology, I can manage the massive banks of globally accessed, powerful servers from my dining room.
But it also meant I couldn't go out to eat dinner on Saturday, the only day of this weekend that Angel didn't have a houseful of dogs to tend to.
This meant takeout.
This was actually Adam's Idea, or his mother's, I forget which. they get to Casey's more often than I do and made the observation that when they were there it seemed to traffic a lot of great-smelling pizza. I'd neve even considered convenience store pizza, I had images of those ubiquitous quick-stop hotdogs, spinning for days and days, wrinkling up, drying out, growing flesh-eating parasites at an alarming rate. You know what I mean.
But my options were limited. Why not try something different.
So as I buried my head into work they headed out. Adam had pre-ordered the requisite half hour to forty five minutes ahead of time.
They brought the pizzas home, accompanied by a couple of boxes of breadsticks. They also added some breakfast donuts, something Pizza Hut simply doesn't offer.
 The Food:
My expectations were low, because of the spinning hot dog imagery, but I was also distracted. I have to admit though, they were some pretty pies. The toppings, those that I could see, were well spaced and rather generous.
Angel and I split a 'Supreme' Adam, who doesn't like many veggies chose a meat-lover and asked for an extra topping, bacon. He added more meat to an all-meat pizza.  The pizzas were still hot, the cheese was still melty. I tore off three slices and added some store-brand potato chips to my plate and went back to the laptop. I had a brief respite waiting for the other guys to do their thing with the systems, so i got to read and wolf down my pizza in peace. Angel and Adam settled into their dining area, the living room in front of the TV. This is just how we do things.
I have to say, it wasn't bad.
Meat lover, with extra meat
It was definitely not St. Louis style, it was more like what I consider Domino's style. The crust was soft, yet not too chewy, the cheese was plentiful, mostly mozzarella  and Parmesan from what I could tell. The meat was tasty. What it lacked though, and sadly so, was big chunks of veggies. There were some there, but if you zoom into the photo you'll see that the veggies are, if you can see them at all, quite small and not at all prominent. This is about the only complaint I have about it.
It was quite good. Not surprisingly Angel declared "Better than Domino's!" Which is our low-water-mark of disappointing pizzas. Many frozen pizzas get that same rating in her opinion.
Her other comments were that the cheese was tasty, and the veggies too small, and they only offer one kind of crust. I'd equate it to 'hand tossed, not Chicago thick, or New York/St. Louis thin. It's the way I like a crust anyhow. Angel agreed that it was light and not too chewy, she liked it, though she's always been a bigger fan of thin crusts.
Adam was quite pleased as well, agreeing that it was much better than Domino's though the crust was softer than he expected. There was "nothing wrong" with the cheese and the toppings were plentiful and flavorful. Angel reminded me that she really enjoyed the spiciness of the sausage. Adam even rated it as good as Pizza Hut.
I can't say much about the sauce, I barely detected it, so it was neither outstanding or disgusting
Of course the best pizza I've ever had was made by my younger brother Jeff, in Cerulean Ky. He's not a professional cook, but he could be. He makes the dough (with just a drip of honey)  and sauce (from garden tomatoes) completely from scratch and gets the other veggies from the Amish food stand down the road. I don't really expect any franchise to top this piece of culinary art.
On reheating the next day, in our toaster oven since the microwave broke down, it was just as good. I was once again at my laptop, the on-call rotation can sometimes be quite demanding, but still, the pizza was thoroughly satisfying. I even tried the breadsticks, and found them quite good as well.
At fifteen bucks per pizza that's not a bad deal. Because a pizza, or two in our case, can easily cover more than one full meal. The nearness of Casey's to our humble abode adds significant value as well. Pizza Hut and Dominoes are in Desoto, some ten miles further down the road. We make a pretty good pizza ourselves, but not on a whim. So I imagine that we will do this again. In fact I'm pretty sure of it. Casey's isn't the best pizza in the world, nor the cheapest, nor the fastest, but it is nearby and quite satisfying.
It isn't for everyone though. If you live in a city, or otherwise outside the Midwest, you simply won't find it. But for the three hundred locations in Missouri alone, it's probably as good as you will find without driving a lot extra. And there is nothing actually wrong with it.

1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy a good Casey's pizza. Thanks for blogging and sharing your experience. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend their breakfast pizza sometime.