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Triangle Downtowner Magazine

Patrick Jane’s Gourmet Pizza Bar & Bistro

Mar 07, 2016 02:10PM ● By Parker Martin

By Christy Griffith | Photos by Crash Gregg

I’ll admit to assuming Patrick Jane’s Gourmet Pizza Bar & Bistro was just a pizza place and that’s probably why I hadn’t stopped by sooner.

Not that I’m against pizza (HEAVENS, NO!)—I’m extremely pro-pizza—I’m just the kind of person who shoves it in her pizza pie-hole indiscriminately. If it’s there, I’m gonna eat it. I don’t actively seek pizza out… it just actively finds its way into my face without too much work on my end.

You should actively seek this place out. Spoiler alert: Patrick Jane’s is actually not owned by a man named Patrick Jane. The husband-and-wife team of Kevin and Ngiare Hubbard opened the restaurant in the fall of 2013 and decided to use their middle names to make it easier on those of us who have a hard time figuring out how to say names like “Kevin” and “Ngiare.” 

There are a dizzying amount of vegetarian and gluten-free offerings, a much-needed element in the pizza-world. You’re not just limited to pizza, either. There’s an extensive list of appetizers, salads, pasta, and sandwiches before you even get to the pizza. So, basically, calorie-restrict yourself before arriving because you don’t want all that real estate in your belly to be prematurely taken up with those stale Doritos you found in the back of your pantry when there is so much good food to be had. Plus, the ingredients are local and organic. (You can’t say that about those Doritos.)

We sampled tons of food, and because I am a professional eater, I had the presence of mind to starve myself beforehand (see above paragraph) to ensure that the appetizers didn’t fill me up before we moved on through the menu. The garlicky tomato, onion, and basil topping on the Bruschetta ($7.25) comes dressed in a sweet balsamic sauce and is sure to please everyone at your table.

It’s always a good sign when a place can do the simple dishes right, elevating the humble to the sublime. Until I came here, I would have thought that toasting bread correctly is quite the difficult endeavor based on my last several bruschetta samplings around town. If you love goodie-topped bread as much as I do, then you may want to order the Local Farm Sampler ($13). Not only does it come with bruschetta and assorted cheeses, but you’ll get to enjoy the Pear & Gorgonzola Crostini, a sweet and piquant little treat that you’ll want to get before the rest of the people at your table notice it’s missing. Do this without guilt. Guilt gives you indigestion.

There are several fried options at Patrick Jane’s. All the fried goodies are definitely what bring me to the State Fair every fall. It’s nice to have places to visit that serve deliciosity in deep-fried form during the other seasons of the year. Definitely order the Goat Cheese Balls ($7.95). I mean, goat cheese on its own is creamy and earthy and just plain delicious but when it arrives in front of you on a bed of greens, formed into lightly breaded and deep-fried spheres, drizzled in truffle honey, you just let out moans of the Meg Ryan-variety, circa 1989. In lightly-fried news, the Mini-Crab Cakes ($12.50) aren’t what someone from Maryland would expect, but the Cajun-flavored binder tastes great with the incredible house-made remoulade sauce. The sauce is so good, I’d like to dip many, many non-Cajun-flavored things in it, like French fries or onion rings, or those sad, stale Doritos in the back of my pantry. What I liked even better with the remoulade were the Boudin Balls ($8.95). This Cajun-staple is the best I’ve had, with braised pig formed into balls with risotto instead of the standard rice. It’s nicely spiced with just the right amount of heat, before being breaded and deep- fried. Not diet food by any means, but the only diet I recommend is a brief period of starvation before heading to Patrick Jane’s.

You can order most of their salads in three sizes, 48 oz., 24 oz., or side salad. Side salads are perfect for people like me who like to pretend that a bowl of lettuce on the side, whether topped with vegetables or chocolate sauce, help the pizza that accompanies it slide into my belly calorie-free. The Bacon & Blue Salad ($5.50) arrives chock full of goodies like BACON and BLUE CHEESE. (Hey, it’s still a salad!) The baby spinach somehow man- ages not to disappear under the added weight of eggs, tomatoes, red onions, red bell pepper, and a creamy blue cheese dressing. This is my kind of salad! How a salad can deliver both heft and light- ness is a mystery to me, but don’t read too much into that because I’m also baffled by how to under- stand blood pressure readings. The Goat & Pecan ($5.50) is a daintier option, with delicate, mixed greens and baby spinach topped with goat cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans, and pear slices. It’s a winner with the Honey Lemon Vinaigrette, something I would lick off the plate if socially acceptable for someone over the age of five.

Y’all. Now’s the time to listen. If you have ever seen lasagna on a menu and thought, “Meh, I can make that at home,” YOU NEED TO RECONSIDER THAT ATTITUDE. The Lasagna ($15.95) is absolutely the best I’ve ever had in my life, and you need to take me seriously right now because my mom makes some seriously awesome lasagna. The forearm strength required of the server who gets to bring it out to your table must be incredible because it’s a big heap of amazing. I’ve since had sexy dreams about the beef, the four cheeses, and the Bolognese (THE BOLOGNESE!!!). The garlic bread that comes with it is perfect for sopping up every last speck of sauce. Clean Plate Club for life.

Now that I’m all hot and bothered, let me wipe my brow and move on to the pizza. The pies come in large, medium, and mini, and can even be made with gluten-free crusts and vegan cheese if you prescribe to a lifestyle that is the complete opposite of mine. The crusts are thin and the large is LARGE. The pizzas are rectangular, so if you’re ordering a lot, make sure that you have adequate refrigerator space to store the boxes. But I doubt you’ll need to take too much home because the pizza is so, so, very, very good and you were so, so, very, very good about starving yourself before you arrived. Kevin is serious about you eating the pizza as soon as it comes out because fresh is best with these babies; although, I can attest that when pizza is this good, the cold leftovers are actually really good as well. (I may have conducted this very scientific study for breakfast a few days in a row.)

Let’s get down to what I was lucky enough to have in front of me: the Bruschetta ($23.95/large). The crust comes lightly dressed in a bright tomato sauce and is baked with mozzarella. As it comes out of the oven, it’s covered in arugula and diced, fresh mozzarella and tomato. Then, it’s seasoned with garlic. It’s straight- forward and well-executed, and I had to fight the leftovers away from my daughter because I’m the worst at sharing.

The   current   winter    special is the Brussels Bacon Rebellion ($25.50/large). Thinly sliced Brussels sprouts are sautéed in garlic, which then meet up with candied bacon, mozzarella, Parmesan, and red onions. It is an incredibly popular item for good reason: it’s just plain tasty. Brussels sprouts aren’t supposed to taste this good, but when you pair them with meat candy, all the rules go out the window.

The Bacon & Blueberry Jam  ($24.95/large) is making me hungry just writing about it. It’s a thing of beauty, liberally doused with crumbled bacon and lovely, purple dollops of blueberry jam among the mascarpone and mozzarella. It just seductively looks at you, daring you to dive in. Each slice has its own little pillow of whipped ricotta, an incredible textural contrast that will have you reaching for your second slice before you’ve even finished chewing the first. Don’t start eating the second slice before you have finished the first, because of choking hazards and all that, but definitely reach for it before the other people at your table have a chance to.

My favorite of the day was the Apricot & Roasted Pistachio ($25.50/large). The base is  a four-cheese mixture of mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and just a hint of pungent gorgonzola that really plays nice with the sweet apricot preserves. Roasted pistachios are scattered about along with peppery arugula and fresh rosemary.

There are so many pies and I want to try them all. You can make combination pizzas so you’re not limited to one variety. I would only need to order fifteen pizzas to try all thirty flavors! I think it’s a solid life goal. It’s just that I have to make sure to attend one of their monthly wine or local beer pairing dinners  (March-October). These are themed, 3-course prix fixe affairs that come with a glass of beer or wine with each course and a complimentary glass of Prosecco. Besides these events, look for an all-you-can-eat Cajun Craw- fish Boil on the patio on April 16, more down-home than the linens and candles you can expect at the wine pairings.

Are you thirsty yet? We loved the Blackberry Margarita ($13.95). Patron, blackberries, thyme, simple syrup, and lime juice make a good-looking cocktail, especially when garnished with a sprig of thyme speared through a fresh blackberry.

Are you hungry again? Then GET THE DES- SERT! Ngiare is the genius behind all of their house-made desserts and if you see her, you should totally give her a high-five because this lady knows things. Good things. Sugary things. An Australian native, she makes sure to have Melting Moments ($1.60/$2.35 gluten-free) on hand at all times. These are butter shortbread cookies sandwiched around a vanilla buttercream that hail from a land down under. (And now I have Men at Work stuck in my head.) Most of her cakes are gluten-free, so you can indulge no matter what’s going on with your insides.

The Lemon White Chocolate Cheesecake ($8.50) comes topped with a blueberry compote, the perfect balance of sweet and tart. The Nutella & Peanut Butter Cheesecake ($8.50) was my favorite of the desserts available when we visited, and how could it not be? The thing comes topped with chopped Reese’s Cups and caramel sauce, for heaven’s sake. The slices are huge, perfect for sharing, and while it’s been established I don’t like to share, I don’t think I could eat an entire slice in one sitting after all of the pizza and lasagna and salad and deep-fried balls. But, I would probably suck it up and try my best because, for real, this cheesecake knows I’m wearing my stretchy pants and I have a pocket full of antacids.