I have been eating at Pizza Junction for years. I come here not just for the food, but also for the station and the passing trains. I'm sad that I missed out on the heyday and romance of passenger trains, but this Huntington eatery provides a way to enjoy a bit of the past with its trackside dining.
The tracks are on the south side of the historic station, and the best way to experience the passing trains is to sit outside. There's seating on the patio and covered deck with a terrific view of the historic Huntington County Courthouse.
On the day we visited, it had rained earlier and the seats still had some raindrops on them. Not wanting to give in to Mother Nature, I snagged my favorite table and anxiously awaited trains. I didn't have to wait long to hear a blaring horn and the crossing bell, see the gates drop, and watch the tracks to see a screaming-fast train pass.
Every time my family goes to Pizza Junction, we order the pasta side salads to start our meal. It has never disappointed. The right-sized appetizer portion is served very cold and looks like a pizza on top of pasta with its cherry tomatoes, banana peppers, black olives and fresh slices of green onion. I like it so much that I've tried to duplicate it at home, but I can't get the tangy dressing to taste the same. (Anybody want to share the secret?)
The tomato shrimp sherry soup, sadly, sounded better than it tasted. I didn't get any sherry or shrimp flavor. The hearty tomato broth overpowered everything else, which was a disappointment because sherry works so well with tomato soup. I'll pass if it's among the offerings on my next visit.
Like many families, everyone in ours wants different toppings on their pizza. Luckily, Pizza Junction's 8-inch pie is the perfect size for everyone to have their own personal pizza.
I chose some of my usual toppings - sausage, fresh mushrooms (you can opt for canned), black olives and smoked gouda cheese. The savory taste of the sausage blends well with the sweetness of the gouda. Pizza Junction's pizza crust is exactly what I prefer - one that holds all the ingredients neatly and is not soggy on the bottom.
My daughter was more adventurous and ordered the bacon cheeseburger pizza. I was surprised by how good this was. Our server told us it would taste like meatloaf. I thought it did, but my daughter (the family's meatloaf connoisseur) disagreed. She mentioned, “I do love the ketchup,” which serves as the “sauce” on this pizza.
My husband had his favorite toppings – pepperoni, green onions and fresh mushrooms. If you choose mozzarella, you'll have fun pulling the stringy cheese.
Pizza didn't sound good to my son, so he picked the vegetarian sub. The bread was very soft but still kept the ingredients from spilling over; it was a tidy, no-drip sandwich. There was a variety of veggies along with some cheese. He said he wasn't miserably full afterward, which meant that my 16-year-old son was still hungry and secretly wanted dessert.
Smart kid, because Pizza Junction has some decadent desserts. I had a hot fudge sundae with Mackinac Island ice cream. Layers of thick fudge and creamy ice cream served in a large sundae dish was more that enough to be the cherry on top of my meal.
The lemon cake was refreshing with its luscious layers offering a variety of tastes of lemon. The cake was light and the lemon mousseline and Meyer lemon curd provided punches of tart lemon flavor. The creamy, sweet icing was a perfect counterbalance. This cake is delightful and will be my dessert choice next time I go to Pizza Junction.
Probably the most sinful dessert was the peanut butter pie. Crushed chocolate cookies provided the crust for a pie filled with a smooth dark chocolate and peanut butter mousse and sprinkled with chopped peanut butter cups. It get a big thumbs up.
I am such a train buff that I have been known to stop early at a crossing to await the blaring horns and roar of the engine. It's a shame Fort Wayne doesn't have any trackside restaurants (hint, hint). Until that happens – and even after it did – you would still find me regularly trackside in Huntington.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Laura Weston-Elchert at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 461-8468.
Pizza Junction Cafe
WHERE: 201 Court St., Huntington
HOURS: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
* Breadsticks (6): $3.59
* Pasta side salad: $2.99
* Caesar salad with chicken: $7.29
* Bacon cheeseburger pizza, small: $6.79
* Vegetarian sub: $3.79 half; $6.99 whole
* Hot fudge sundae: $2.99
* Chocolate peanut butter pie: $3.79
* Lemon cake: $3.99