Posts Tagged ‘Raia’s Market’

Valian’s Pizza is Back!

October 16, 2010

 

Hmmm! Hmmm! Good!

BAD NEWS UPDATE, 8/14/2017. Raia’s went out of business about three years ago and their fair (but not quite as good) rendition of the original Valian’s Pizza went with them. No explanation for the shutdown. Their business traffic, at least, looked good, but you never know. Sorry to have to share disappointment here, but life is like that sometimes, isn’t it?

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Do you recognize anything special in what you are looking at in the above pictured pizza box? Well, if you could suddenly inhale the aromas wafting in the air, and gently trial-taste the brick-oven cooked blending of cheeses, pepperoni slices, mushrooms, green peppers, marinara sauce, and unmistakably deliciously light golden brown thin crust, you would recognize that you have just bitten into something many of us remember in Houston from long ago as a Valian’s Deluxe Pizza.

That’s right, their back! All this time we’ve spent here at The Pecan Park Eagle over the past few months bemoaning the demise of Valian’s, a form of the old treasured pizza has been available to us all the time. It simply wasn’t promoted well enough for the word to get out.

Well, we’ll try to fix that little information hole today.

A week ago Friday, I was driving to an alumni luncheon at St. Thomas High School with Delbert “D.D.” Stewart, an old classmate and even older friend. As we drove south on Durham, near the Shepherd-Washington intersection, I just happened to mention our broadly shared regret that Valian’s Pizza no longer existed.

“Oh, but it does,” D.D. interjected. “There’s a place very near here on Washington Avenue that serves it on their menu as ‘Valian’s Pizza.’ It’s a place called Raia’s Italian Market.”

 

It’s at 4500 Washington, a block east of Shepherd on the north side of the street with ample parking in the back of the building.

 

I wasn’t able to check out my friend’s tip until yesterday. He had not been there personally and I had to discover for myself if it were really true. I knew that only┬ámy taste buds could answer that one.

I finished early at my office yesterday. It was about eleven in the morning. By choice, my days at work aren’t too grueling anymore so I decided to just drive over to this Raia’s place and see for myself what kind of pizza they were offering in the name of Valian’s the Great. The owner of the deli market, a fellow named Luke Raia, wasn’t around, but I learned from his store manager that the clean-looking little deli place had been open in this beautiful new storefront building since the summer of 2008.

I checked out the take-out menu since I don’t enjoy dining alone in public, and because I wanted to take home some goodies to the family anyway. There it was in the pizza section of choices, advertised clearly in a misspelled form of the famous family surname as “Valien’s Deluxe.” A whole pizza is available in one generous size for the going price of nine dollars.

The young store manager had no clue about the misspelling of “Valian’s” as “Valien’s”, but he did know that their offering of that product came from the fact that store owner Luke Raia had been a friend of the Valian family and that he had had obtained their recipe for pizza for use in his new restaurant prior to their 2008 opening.

I put aside my personal amazement over the two years deep misspelling of Valian’s on the menu and ordered a couple of pies to go. I told the young store manager that, if his product turned out to be the real thing, to get ready for the Internet article I intended to write about it. His pizza business was getting ready to really add a few mushrooms. On top of their already very active luncheon deli and evening dinner business, Raia’s was about to plug into a very large market of people who have been figuratively dying for the taste of a good old Valian’s Pizza for way too long.

 

Raia’s Dining Room: For their service hours, check them out at http://www.RaiasItalian.com

 

Folks, I took my Raia’s-Valian’s/Valien’s Deluxe Pizza home and tried it. Verdict: It’s the real thing. Except for a slight difference that I think is due to the fact these particular meats and cheeses most probably are not coming from the same suppliers that once served the original Valian’s store, this pizza is as good as pizza gets. And the great thin crust is unmistakably Valian’s all the way.

My 25-year old son Neal tried this Valian’s Pizza last night for the first time in his life. After a lifetime of listening to me speak of the original, he couldn’t wait to give it a try. I couldn’t wait to watch.

After he took one bite, I watched Neal’s eyes roll back. A few moments of careful chewing were gradually followed by a one-word response:

“WOW!”

He paused a few moments before adding, “So this is what pizza is supposed to taste like?”

 

The other food choices at Raia’s look delicious too, friends!

 

Folks, I don’t know Luke Raia, and I have no investment in his business, but I do know this much. He’s done the history of local foods proud by preserving and offering Valian’s Pizza on his menu. For that reason alone, he deserves our initial support. I also have a hunch that we shall find other food reasons for going back.

Thanks for saving Valian’s Pizza, Luke. Can you now do something about the spelling of the family name on the menu? Unless the family name was really “Valien” and they misspelled it as “Valian’s” on the neon sign that once fronted their South Main restaurant, the menu spelling error deserves correction.

Have a great weekend, everybody! And happy food choices too!

If you make it to Raia’s for the Valian’s Pizza, please post your own reviews here as comments on this article. I’d really like to hear what the rest of you think.