Last Friday, I invited my family to fish fry. You might think that we do this often, being a fish eating Wisconsin family. But we don’t. The invite went out to my brothers, two sets of aunts and uncles, and my parents. I had a very good fish fry at Popeyes a few months ago, and thought it would be worth a return visit. Popeyes, in spite of the reputation as a crowded tourist spot, is a good place to visit on busy nights simply because of its overwhelming size. When the set meeting time arrived, the only people to show at my benevolent fish fry appointment were my parents and one aunt and uncle. It turns out that people of a certain age won’t turn down a free meal, just like I couldn’t turn down a recommendation to try pizza at DJ’s In The Drink.
But it was more than a recommendation, it was a glowing review. My friend told me he’ll never eat pizza anywhere else around here. He said it was amazing. He told me I’d love it. This is a friend who is no stranger to pizza, so his words were meaningful. I heard about this amazing pizza on a Sunday evening and on Monday night I typed the name of the restaurant into my map app and followed the instructions. This place is on the north side of Lake Como, which is a place I don’t frequent. And by “don’t frequent”, I meant I’ve only been on this road one other time in my life and that was when I was reviewing the fish fry at an establishment on the same road. I’ve often said if you find me swimming in Delavan Lake you should check for the chains around my feet, because I’m surely not in the lake on purpose. On that note, if you ever find me in Lake Como you should absolutely call the police because I am in desperate need of rescue. Enough about Como, onto their pizza.
I told my son to meet me for pizza at 5:15. If I had told him to meet me to deliver magazines, or if I told him to mow the lawn at 5:15, he would have objected, or at least complained. In this case, I told him to meet me and meet me he did. No complaints. DJ’s In The Drink is the sort of bar you find all over the state of Wisconsin. It’s a place for locals and weekenders, but it’s not there to impress you with its decor. A woman was in the small parking lot setting up several games of bags when we arrived. She told me to move my car because she said it would be safer across the street. Not that the crowd was unruly, she just thought it might be better to move the car before the games of bags got heated. I moved the car and appreciated the thoughtful advice.
If you haven’t been to many up north Wisconsin bars, then you don’t know exactly what this place is like. If you’d been to these types of bars, you know the type and you know that even though the colors of the tables and the neon beer brand signs might change, the theme is the same. They all feel comfortable, though if you’re not from there you do always feel a bit out of place. My powder blue shorts and leather loafers gave it away that I was not a regular. My son and I sat at a four top near the window and ordered the pizza. I had no intention of ordering anything but the pizza, because of what doctors call a little bit of a weight problem, but I also didn’t expect to see Buffalo Cheese Curds, labeled “Balls of Fire”. I had no choice but to order those, along with a large pizza with sausage.
The Balls Of Fire were brought out quickly. There was a chance they’d be some amazing amalgamation of hot wings and cheese curds, but they weren’t. They were just as described: cheese curds doused with buffalo sauce. The sauce made the curds quickly go soggy, so while I will never turn down a budget of fried cheese, I wouldn’t order these again. We waited for the pizza and watched the guys warm up for a night of bags. Cars pulled up. Trucks pulled up. Guys that work for a living pulled up. Older folks from the neighborhood pulled up. An old guy on a UTV drove up. I watched as an outsider, with a twinge of wishing I had some sort of place that I thought of as mine.
The wait for the pizza was longer than I expected it to be. Perhaps 25 minutes, which felt like a long time for a super thin crust. Even so, when the pizza did arrive I wasn’t upset about it. The cheese was quite greasy with more orange tones than you’d see in a straight mozzarella topping. This was some sort of blend, perhaps with some parmesan, provolone, maybe even a hint of jack. I didn’t like it very much, though it did remind me of the blend that Larducci’s in Elkhorn uses to a much better result. The crust, as promised, was very thin and sturdy, easily passing the flop test and then some. This was, in all of my pizza episodes, the strongest thin crust I have encountered. But it wasn’t particularly flavorfully and the hard texture was actually annoying as one piece turned to six (don’t you judge me).
You’ll notice now that I haven’t discussed the sauce yet, or the sausage for that matter. That’s because there really wasn’t any sauce to consider. In fact, I tried to pull back the cheese to get a glimpse at the space where the sauce might be hiding, and the cheese was quite adhered to the crust. The sauce was missing, even though there was some slight hint of red under the cheese. There was no flavor here. The sausage was applied as though each chunk cost $80. How can a pizza be good without a great sauce? And how can a sausage pizza call itself a sausage pizza if the sausage is barely present?
I didn’t like this pizza. I liked the idea, I liked the bar, I liked the people. But the pizza on this night wasn’t good. I told my friend about this, and he claimed that when he went a week prior there was almost too much sauce on the pizza. This didn’t mesh with my experience, but perhaps that’s because this is Lake Geneva and one thing that defines our dining scene is a lack of consistency. Try DJ’s In The Drink and let me know what you think. There’s a good chance it was just an off night, and it deserves another shot. If you go on a Monday, be prepared to play a few games of bags before dinner.
DJ’s In The Drink
W3860 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Geneva (Lake Como’s north shore)
$16.75 for a 16″ Sausage Pizza