Ed note: Sadly, this restaurant has closed.
3627 Park Avenue
Everytime we drive down Park Avenue (my sister lives nearby) Warren points to Hephzibah and says, "We should eat there sometime." I usually nod and think, yeah, sometime.
Well, tonight was the night.
We pulled into the gigantic (empty) parking lot at about 7:15pm. There's really no indication from the street that behind the fairly small black and red building is a huge parking lot and a second very long and skinny red and black building. From what I gathered, the second building is for take out orders. You just drive right up to a window and get whatever you want to go.
We paused for a moment and wondered if we should take the to go option. It was pretty late to be feeding the monkeys and they were restless. (They came dangerously close to not making it to the restaurant at all.) However, once we read the menu board and the monkeys (Satchel, 5, and Jiro 3) started requesting pizza, I had no interest in sitting in the car and waiting a long time. Besides, I wanted to see the inside of the place.
The inside was much like the outside--red and black. Walls, tables, chairs, lights, everything. Had it been red, green, and black it would have had rastafarian written all over it. Hephzibah, from what I gleaned after reading a few framed clippings and airbrushed bible verses on the wall, is a little bit Bob Marley and a little bit Kletzmer. The owner claimed to be a Jew, like right out of the Old Testament, rather than Jewish. That's cool.
The restaurant does not serve pork and is closed during the sabbath--sundown Friday to Sunday morning. There are small 5x7 pictures framed and hung all over the walls. Most of them depicting customers posing next to the bad ass mural that is a larger more colorful version of this image I found on their website:
Sadly, I did not have my camera and could not get the monkeys in front of it. Next time!
The menu was quite appealing. Despite having several fine looking pizzas on it, I opted to go with the Boomerwangs. (Both Satchel and Jiro wanted personal pan pizza kids' meals--$3.50 with a drink--so I knew I'd get a taste.) Warren went for a half a chicken and a side of fries. Realizing that even though we were in a place that "follows a policy of greaseless cooking for healthy eating," we needed to get something green. I ordered a side of broccoli and a side of green beans. (They also offered kids' meals with hot legs and a side for under $4.00.)
We were the only people in the restaurant for most of the time we were there. And there was only one person working--the owner, I presume. (There was one other guy, but he was in the "take out" building.) I worried this meant that our food would take a really long time and that the monkeys would destroy the place before we could eat.
We occupied ourselves with "I spy" for a while, but really when everything is either red or black, it isn't that much fun! Jiro required a trip to the bathroom (which was thankfully not red or black). Satchel played with his straw and managed to spill water in his lap a few times before the grand finale when he spilled water all over the floor. I went in search of the waiter/cook/owner to get some towels, but he was sequestered in the kitchen.
When he brought out Warren's salad--mesculin mix with cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and cheese--he very thoroughly cleaned up the water despite my insistence that he let me do it. Warren was thrilled with his salad. It was definitely far superior to the bowl of iceberg lettuce you too often see in restaurants. Satchel ate the accompanying crackers and Jiro ate the cheese that Warren placed on a napkin for him. Then he used his finger to eat the remaining ranch dressing out of a small plastic container.
I'd say the monkeys were a little hungry.
Next we received the Boomerwangs and the half a chicken. Satchel started panting and licking his fingers. Warren gave him a giant chunk of meat to prevent him from foaming at the mouth. Jiro grabbed a piece of the toast that came with mine and began dipping it into my cup of blue cheese dressing. He didn't like that at all and then opted to squirt ketchup on the toast and eat it. (Ew.) I tried to get him to eat one of my accompanying carrots or celery, but he wasn't interested. It was only a few seconds before both the monkeys were grabbing at Warren's fries with both hands.
Luckily the pizzas came out so that Warren and I could turn our attention back to our own dinners. My Boomerwangs were quite yummy. Not greasy at all. They were obviously smoked and the meat just fell off the bone. The sauce was spicy, but not too spicy. (I needed to actually eat the carrots and bread, but not blow my nose or anything like that.) The sides of broccoli and green beans were huge. The broccoli was bright green and steamed, just the way we like it. The green beans were slow cooked with something resembling bacon--turkey neck, I think.
Satchel claimed his pizza was too hot and went back to helping Warren with his half a chicken. Jiro sat quietly and ate his pizza like it was the most delicious thing he had ever tasted. I asked for a bite and he pointed for me to get my own piece. I found it hard to take just one bite. Reluctantly, I let Warren have a taste before finishing it off. The sauce was tangy just how I like it and despite being covered in cheese, the pizza wasn't greasy at all. (Still trying to figure that one out.)
Jiro made a happy plate, but the remaining three of us each had enough food leftover for a whole other meal. Our total bill was $30, which seemed high, but actually wasn't considering we had a ton leftover. Next time (and there will definitely be a next time), we'll just let Satchel eat off of our plates and I'll order something that comes with sides rather than getting an appetizer and two extra sides. I definitely want to try Hephzibah's hamburgers and full size pizzas.
They actually deliver with a $25 minimum and $5 charge. So next time you pick up the phone to call Domino's for pizza and wings, immediately hang up and call Hephzibah. You won't regret it!