Tim's fills the cravings
Newly opened Tim's Pizza & Subs gets the thumbs for their pizza pies
By The Go! Mystery Reviewer

SALISBURY -- One thing long on the Mystery Reviewer's to do list: compare local pizza pies and finally choose a favorite. Our passion for all things cheese and pepperoni (and cheese and spinach, cheese and mushrooms, cheese and ... well, you know ...) makes this an interesting contest. Is traditional crust the best? What about white pizza? Should Eastern Shore-style toppings get extra points?

One thing we do know -- the recently opened Tim's Pizza and Subs in the Salisbury Center Shoppes on Tilghman Road is high on the list of contenders. This newbie hardly got a second look when it opened a few months ago -- small villages could be built from the menus of restaurants that failed in this location -- but when an alert reader pointed out Tim's merits, we gave it a try.

Tiny Tim's consists of little more than a few booths, a couple of tables, two large soda coolers and a rack of chips under fluorescent lights. Maple wainscoting adds a little bit or warmth to the room, but the fountains on the wall seem oddly out of place, as does the fish tank behind the counter. Of note: 40 feet of the healthiest, creeping-est philodendron plant we've ever seen, winding its way around the restaurant. (The musical "Little Shop of Horrors" comes to mind, not just because of the plant, but because of the musical's best line: "Feed me!") And Tim's does, with gusto.

We're a little perplexed by the plate of celery that arrives -- solo -- at the table five minutes after we order. "To get you started," says our server, as she explains our dinner's estimated time of arrival: "The wings will take about 10 minutes, the pizza, about 20 minutes. Everything else will come out when it is ready." And it does. Starting with a plate of deep-fried mozzarella sticks double-coated in now-crunchy batter, food comes to the table in random order: the mozzarella sticks, finger-kissing hot, with no sign of lingering grease; huge jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese and dunked in hot oil long enough to be crispy and gooey at the same time. (Tim's calls these dishes "side orders" instead of appetizers; other "sides" include cheese bread with garlic sauce, fried mushrooms and chicken tenders.)

And then, a short break.

Next, we get Tim's plate of spaghetti, dressed with just enough mild marinara sauce. The noodles are a moment past al dente, but not overcooked, and the meatballs are dense and moist. A minute later, two dozen fat wings arrive (alas, the celery is nearly gone) coated in sticky, sweet honey barbecue sauce, and with it, our toasted shrimp parmesan sub, which is simply a version of the seafood dish with melted cheese over extra bread. The novelty wears off after a few bites, however, when we realize there are too few crispy shrimp in marinara sauce -- and too much bread.

By now, it is clear that the food will arrive as it is prepared, though it is unclear whether this is a kitchen policy or simply the result of two many seated customers and not enough servers. What surprises us though, is the number of times our server comes to the table and never clears a plate. By the end of our meal, every dish that landed in front of us -- starting with the small plate of celery -- is still on the table. Even when our server presents the check, she walks away without removing a single dish.

But if there's one reason to head to a pizza place, it's the pizza, and Tim's is a prize-winner. The airy crust is light, yeasty and crisp through to the middle. The specialty Meat Lovers pizza we order comes loaded with six varieties of meat including salami, pepperoni and sausage -- and Tim's doesn't skimp on any of it. Tim's Hawaiian pizza -- in addition to Canadian bacon, ham and loads of pineapple -- is heavy with melted cheese. Ditto for Tim's Greek pizza, with mounds and mounds of tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, peppers, onions and gyro meat. While Tim's does offer cheap pizza deals (such as a large cheese pie for $7.29), diners can expect to pay for the heavily-topped specialty pizzas: two 12-inch pizzas we ordered for take out a few weeks later ran us more than $26.

Dessert is a tall slice of spicy carrot cake, a dense chocolate cake and a notable homemade rice pudding in a Styrofoam container. Sweet. Even sweeter: knowing Tim's can satisfy our cravings for decent pizza in oh, so many ways.

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