Wednesday, 24 September 2008


Donna's is now known as MOE's PIZZA

Have you ever walked or driven past a place like a million times, and never gone in? You're always like, 'I should go there sometime', but then never do? That was Donna's Express for me. It's an interesting place I always see and always see people at but have just never gone in. Then I decided, 'today is the day', and that this wasn't going to be the place I never go in. Who knows, this could be a secret wing gold mine.

At 11:30 am this place was already buzzing. Half the patio was full, which is usually a good sign for the food. I was confused about how to enter the place - Donna's is part restaurant part convenience store. I walked into the solarium part where a waitress approached me immediately. She asked if I wanted a seat and I mentioned I wanted take-out (wanted to get home and watch some noon-hour DS9. She brought me to the 'diner' counter, where I picked from the menu a small cheese pizza and wings. "What kind of sauce? Mild, medium, hot, honey garlic . . ." "I see the menu has suicide, can I get that?" "You like it hot do you? O-kay!"

I sat and observed the place. The decor was old - faded seat and bench covers, train memorabilia around the walls (the Express refers to the locomotive, not the speed of service). There are two places I would have sat if I did: the patio, or the 'diner' counter, which has a great view of the kitchen. Actually, where I sat while waiting, I could watch the chef/cooks cooking up a storm. Club sandwiches, fries, pizzas - it was fun to watch. The clientele was a mix: construction workers, government drones, elderly people - but it was clear that just about everyone was a regular as customers came in without reading a menu and ordering and chatting up the waitresses. A very friendly place indeed.

Once my food was ready, I was pointed over to the convenient store to pay. The gentleman said I got a free pop with my combo (I didn't see anything saying it was a combo, but a free pop, sure!). I also witnessed a guy behind me who got 2 pizzas and something was told he got 2 2 litre pops. The man got 2 500ml bottles and the clerk corrected him for his drinks (but the guy didn't want that much pop). That's some good customer service.

I got a plain cheese pizza. Partly because I was being cheap, and partly because I was just craving the cheese. It was small and I was like, yup, that is small. I was hoping it was going to be mighty tasty for $10.

I loved the grease on top. Health be dammed, a good pizza should have a nice sheen of grease on top.

It had a thick end crust, but was thin overall. I liked the crust, crispy, greasy. But a little too much. The sauce was also thin, but the cheese was piled on thick. As you can see above, pulling a slice out almost meant pulling all the cheese off the whole pizza.

This wasn't a bad pizza, but it just didn't have that hook to bring me in again. It wasn't bad, but I'll keep searching Ottawa for a pizza for me. And of course I went there ultimately for the wings. All the way home I could smell the sauce. It ignited my senses. It smelled like Jaco's, my childhood wing - the wings that got me into wings. But would these wings live up to my smell memory?

2008 THE SCORE 3.0: DONNA’s EXPRESS ~ Ottawa
Pizza joint, Deep fried, Buffalo style
$7.95 for approx 12 wings
  • Mild
  • Medium
  • Hot
  • Suicide
  • Honey Garlic
  • BBQ (I think, not completely sure)
Nothing to tingle
Small small small
n/a (pizza joint)
All right – nothing special

I got home and I was jonesing for these wings. I opened up the container: ok, these wings are small. They looked good, but small. They were deep fried and the skin was crispy. Well, they were a bit chewy, which comes from being frozen (I'm pretty sure) and from the trip from Donna's to home.

They were meaty-ish, for such a tiny wing. I just couldn't get past their small size. They smelled so much bigger when I was bringing them home - no really. Actually, if I remember Jaco's correctly, they were small wings too. Oh well.

I had ordered the wings suicide, but they were not. I remember seeing the cook who looked at the order with a little confusion; in retrospect, I think he was like 'suicide? I guess they mean hot' and used hot sauce. And by hot sauce I mean mild. Because these puppies were pretty weak. Now the sauce was tasty, very Buffalo style sauced, but it really needs a heat kick.

FINAL SCORE: Donna's seems to be a good dinner with good diner food. The soup, the sandwiches all looked really good and with big portions. I would go back for the diner food. On the other hand, while the cheese pizza was cheesy, it wasn't an amazing pizza pie. And the wings, well, they were tasty, but small and no heat. If you offer suicide, it should make my mouth burn, shouldn't it? The A-Channel voted this place Best Take-Out food in Ottawa a couple of years ago, but I would stick to dinning in. 5.5/13

Donna's Express
322 Churchill Ave, Ottawa
Take-Out MENU
PS: doesn't that greasy box look like it had the best pizza? if only it did.

1 comment:

Teena in Toronto said...

I betcha the pizza would have been better with lotza pepperoni!