Jean’s Pizzeria & Grill
3252 Ryan Ave. (Roland and Ryan)
If you’ve ever lived in or frequented Northeast Philly, then you probably have heard of Jean’s pizza at some point in your life. And if you don’t know it by name, then you know it simply as “that pizza place across from Lincoln High School.” Honestly, the closest that I’ve ever come to eating Jean’s in my life was briefly passing it on the chartered 88 bus, on my way home from Father Judge. We’d of course yell obcenities and throw trash from the bus windows at the clueless Lincoln kids waiting at the bus stop, but it was all in fun. Today marks the day that Jonny Castro had his Jean’s cherry popped, and in the most painful way imaginable.
After parking my car across the street and seeing the crowd of dumb Lincoln kids hanging on the front steps of this place, I immediately tucked my gun into my waistband, took a deep breath and reluctantly strolled into this dump. Passing through a haze of blunt smoke, I entered what appeared to be a pizza sweatshop; but instead of cheaply made nikes, it was cheaply made pizzas. A dungeon if you will. A place you’d send the bad kids in school when detention just doesn’t cut it. I was like Joe Pesci when he walked into that backwoods breakfast place in My Cousin Vinny. I felt like such an outcast. It was dark. It was gloomy. It resembled a place you’d go to find a back alley poker game. The delivery guy looked like he was ready to hang himself from the cord on the neon electric sign in the window. Even the counter girls looked unbelievably miserable. In the scratchiest, pack-a-day cigarette smoker, cliche diner waitress voice you can think of, I hear “What can I get for ya’ dear?” As I hesitantly placed my pie order, in the immediate background I noticed 2 flies dancing around on the glossy, single slices that are waiting for some poor, unknowing idiot to put them out of their misery. Below the insect ridden slices was this tiny conveyor belt oven, where the pizzas pass through a couple high powered heat lamps. Even the most basic corner pizza parlors that are operated by non-english speaking, greek immigrants understand that having a full sized, gas pizza oven is the lifeblood of any decent pizzeria. I knew right away that this was gonna be one of the crappiest pizza experiences since the Frankford Avenue Debacle back in ’11.
This. Pizza. Was. Awful. I wouldn’t quite dub it as the worst to date, but it’s not trailing far behind. It tasted like processed garbage. I’m not sure what I disliked more. The flavorless grease-glazed crust or the bland, unsavory pepperoni that were the ideal definition of grade F meat. I was extremely disappointed with what was in that pizza box when I got home. If I would’ve opened it and discovered a half eaten chicken mcnugget happy meal, I would probably be a lot happier than I am at this very moment. I really like to give the places we go the benefit of the doubt and afford them every opportunity to avoid getting a shitty review, but Jean’s definitely earned every adjective written. When I posted a status on the DB’s Facebook page, asking people their thoughts of Jean’s, one of our followers (Terrence O’Donnell) replied “Jeanes hospital makes better pizza.” I couldn’t agree more with such a statement. If you’re in the area and you want good pizza, make the left and grab a Gino’s pie. Jean’s can eat a bag of dicks.
To say that I dislike Jean’s pizza because I have a biased opinion is pure rubbish. If anything, Jean’s was (unfortunately) a huge part of my adolescence. I spent many a night during my high school years in Greg Meyer’s basement, watching Simpsons with my friends and eating that shitty pizza. I didn’t like it then and I certainly don’t like it now. In fact, the only reason I could see preferring that slop to any other pizza out there would have to be pure ignorance. Philadelphia is home to some of the best pizzas around, and Jean’s somehow still continues to exist. With Gino’s, Santucci’s, and even Pizza City within ordering distance, there’s no excuse to order a pizza from Jean’s. But shelling out $14 for their “pizza” the other day was a small price to pay for the opportunity to trash that garbage. So without further adieu, here’s the review of my most hated pizzeria ever: Jean’s.
I’ve heard my friends defend Jean’s for years. “It’s not that bad if you put hot sauce or ketchup on it.” This isn’t an excuse. To have to mask the flavor with condiments is ridiculous. An excellent pie should be able to stand alone, not rely on outside help to improve the taste. The person making the pie should know what they’re doing, and you shouldn’t have to ask for it “well done.” The only thing Jean’s can do without any help is make a shitty pie that you’ll instantly regret ordering.
On this particular Sunday, I ordered a large piece of cardboard covered with ketchup and plastic. Or at least that’s what I got when I ordered a large half pepperoni, half plain pie. I’m surprised I wasn’t offered a complementary side of roaches or hepatitis with it, since Jean’s isn’t known for being the most sanitary. My biggest regret, other than ordering the pizza, was not taking the time to play Cruis’n World while there. Having a few video games in the lobby has always been the only redeeming factor behind every visit to Jean’s as a teenager. Although it didn’t look too bad when I first opened the box, disappointment quickly flooded my taste buds and memory. It has been, and always will be, terrible.
I’m not going to go into great detail about how awful the pizza at Jean’s tastes because it’s not worth the effort. Their pizza is uninspired, bland, and gross. I would happily take a slice of Little Caesar’s that’s been sitting underneath a heat lamp all day than eat Jean’s. Make sure if you’re going to waste your time and order from there, you ask for your pizza well done and slathered in hot sauce. Better yet, you might want to go in there and make the pizza yourself because they either have no idea what they’re doing or they just don’t care.