When Pardo’s exited its original space I wondered who would fill it. That would be a tough act to follow. Pardo’s struggled to find its footing in the new location for a while but is now solid. The empty space vacated by the glamorous Pardo’s lay fallow for years until recently when a sign appeared in the window that made me laugh aloud.
Coming soon! Fat Boy’s Pizza! I found the idea so amusing I texted Osman Rodas, the owner of Pardo’s. We shared a laugh at the irony. But the truth is he will likely spend many hours at Fat Boy’s with his kids, as so many others will. And that is the key to the success of Fat Boy’s, and how in less than two years there are soon to be six locations.
I remember laughing at the original Fat Boy’s when I first passed it on Metairie Road. Such a self-deprecating fun name! I couldn’t wait to try it. And very soon I did. The slogan “Size Matters” is especially fun and absolutely not an exaggeration. The circumference of the whole pizzas rivals that of a small end table. Individual slices are 2-3 times the size of a normal large slice of New York-style pizza. You won’t see Margherita anywhere on the menu, but to my great surprise there is a “white” pizza, not likely to be a hit with the largest demographic of Fat Boy’s customers - kids.
But the white pizza is likely to please the other segment of their regular clientele - parents. I have said since the first visit to Fat Boy’s that there is more than one road to success. Find a niche, and fill it. Fat Boy’s Pizza does this better than most. They have been busy since Day 1. A few months after the original Metairie Road location opened, it doubled in size. Both sections were filled to capacity with kids and parents after school. Kids running wild and their parents socializing. Perfect for the neighborhood. And lots of other neighborhoods.
The neighborhood where the new Fat Boy’s is located is also loaded with kids, but these are older. Several high schools are nearby, and this will be a hangout for students who don’t need their parents to drive them.
A quick look inside explains why the renovation from the glamorous 5-star Pardo’s to Fat Boy’s took so long. Hand dryers in the bathroom have a pepperoni print, and the open kitchen with the wood fire oven has been replaced by a bar with televisions overhead. Upholstered banquettes are gone, replaced by garage doors that will open to the patio going in. The whole space has gone from understated elegance to casual, loud, and buzzing.
Fat Boy’s concept is fast casual, the menu large enough but not too large, the staff eager to attend to your every need. Maybe the best deal is the lunch special, which includes a salad and drink with a half slice of pizza for $9.99. Cheese or pepperoni is a dollar less. There is a calzone, stromboli, cheese fries, wings, garlic knots, jumbo pretzel and baked meatballs. None of this is brilliant, but who would expect it to be? It is perfectly adequate, plus a little more.
Tom got a cheese pizza lunch special. The half slice extended a foot and was accompanied by a really nice salad in a deep bowl, a lot of fresh vegetables arranged in a beautiful display of diversity and color. This was a meal in itself. Good value.
I got a regular slice of The Fat Boy, which had everything on it, from all the meats to all the vegetables. The crust was stiff, thin, and limp, though it seemed overcooked. The combination of ingredients was interesting and the whole thing very filling, naturally - it’s the size of 2 ½ normal slices. We also got a stromboli, which I keep getting confused with a Calzone. A Stromboli is named after the island of Stromboli across the Strait of Messina off the coast of Sicily. The island of Stromboli is essentially a volcano that constantly puffs menacingly without frightening its residents, which include Dolce and Gabbana.
The edible Stromboli had a hole to let out steam, (just like its namesake volcano) and is filled with many of the same ingredients as my Fat Boy pizza. It was served with a small side of marinara so boring it seemed right out of a can. This Stromboli order was a duo, and appeared a little overdone as well. Also ordinary.
The loaded cheese fries were melted together with a lot of cheese. These too were ordinary.
The place has been open less than a week, and all these hiccups may be the hallmarks of a new place. But these are not really hiccups, and the food will remain ordinary, because that is all it needs to be. This is a convivial hangout for a certain demographic.
The buzzy vibe, side arcade, television screens and menu full of sports bar food will keep the place constantly filled. They have found their niche at Fat Boy’s Pizza, and they fill it brilliantly.
Welcome to the Northshore.