Until a wonderful new storage technology comes along to save us all, delivery wings will always be at a fundamental disadvantage.
We learned a lot at Wingstock this year. We learned that sometimes it’s not how good your wings are but how many people will vote for you based on name-recognition alone. We learned that the ability to discern between “really hot” and “Death rode in on his pale horse over my lips and through my gums to burn the fear of God into my throat” is something that some judges may not possess. We learned that people just really, truly love their hot wings and love them big and crispy and saucy in a variety of flavors.
The most valuable lesson we learned that day? KNOW HOW TO STORE YOUR GODFLANCE WINGS.
The heavy hitters of the event, NY Boys, Teakwoods, Jimbo’s, Cogburns and even Native New Yorker struggled to keep up with demand so storing their wings was not an issue. Even so, it seemed that they were only ever cooking as many as they needed and not a wing more. They figured a customer would rather wait a little and get a better wing than have no wait and eat warm chicken shit. The less-than-heavy hitters (Anwars, Fat Willy’s) pre-made a bunch and just let them sit in a container loosely covered with a Sterno-can burning, leaving the wings to pool in their own grease and congeal into a slimy mess of fleshy viscous light-brown garbage. Somehow, the worst was still yet to come.
One of the participating restaurants who shall not be named (that features women in Scottish garb that is apparently at a skewed angle) decided that they were going to cook their wings in advance too. However, they didn’t want their wings to turn into the soggy messes that other pre-cookers were turning into. Their solution was to get the batches of wings directly from the fryer, toss them into a container and then tightly cover the wings. Makes sense right? Keep the heat in, keep the wings hotter so they don’t congeal and suck, I get it. The problem is that covering fresh wings means that the heat escaping that chicken skin and filtering through that layer of sauce now has nowhere to go. You’ve taken escaping heat and turned it into a steam trap, effectively.
Eating some Crooked Plaid Skirt Restaurant* wings, what we were met with was a mess of what appeared to have once been chicken. They seemed crispy at first, but the moment the skin was broken, the chicken meat crumbled. It wasn’t fall-apart tender, it was “Griswold Family Christmas Turkey” tender. The moment the meat of the chicken wing hit the air, we knew it was awful and couldn’t even finish it. They had packed too much heat and too much wing into too tight of a space with nowhere to go and we all suffered for it. Suffered, like when one listens to Nickelback or eats Flancer’s.
This all has brought me to Rino D’s Pizza and Wings. I wrote all of that up there because…well, partly because if I didn’t then this was going to be a very short review, but also because the challenge of trying to be a wing spot AND a delivery service is that you can’t rightfully deliver the wings if you don’t have some sort of container to transport them in. And you can’t transport them in said container AND keep them piping-hot if there is ventilation for the steam to escape.
But if you don’t ventilate these wings, then when you get them what you’re left with is the idea of a beautiful thing and how wonderful it would have been if you had gotten to it before time and evil substances utterly ruined it.
First things first, the prices for Rino D’s aren’t exorbitant but they’re not exactly welfare-recipient friendly. We got an extra large pizza and a large order of wings . Their site claims a large order of wings is 4.5lbs, though we had no way of knowing before ordering exactly how many wings that would net us; it’s like when you talk to someone that’s not very tech-savvy about a memory card and you say “16GB” and they say “Exactly how many pictures is that?” I have no fucking idea how many pictures you dickstove. What size are they? What resolution? What file type? Have you considered the possibility that your suicide would significantly increase the average global IQ? God I hate humanity.
At any rate, all this ran us $28.99 plus tax and tip, so it’s $35 out the door effectively for what amounted to about 2 dozen wings and an extra large pizza. Not highway robbery but it didn’t make me want to jump for joy and did make me want to beat my dogs in disappointment slightly.
The food was delivered in about 35 minutes, slightly above average for delivery men that go slow and delay and do anything they can to avoid coming to my hood. Standard white styrofoam boxes for the wings, a solid sized extra-large pizza (is it just me or have pizza sizes slowly gotten smaller?), and we hefted it all to the living room to eat like heathens in front of a TV.
First strike: They don’t make their own ranch. They don’t even fake it by ladling it out of a giant tub into a little clear plastic container to trick me into thinking they do. There’s just something very Pizza Hut-ish about giving me pre-packaged ranch. Nitpicky, yeah, but fuck you it’s our website.
We normally don’t eat anything elseon wing night but wings, both because we don’t want to taint the flavors or textures or wing eating experience and also because we usually plan on getting hammered drunk in public and need more room for beer. This time though, my wife was coming home fairly soon and apparently you have to feed her twice a day or she turns into a Mogwai or something (I don’t pay that much attention), so I added the pizza to help quell the female hunger. Sidenote: Female Hunger sounds like it was the original title for that movie Teeth (Google it).
The pizza was actually solid. Greasy, large, thin…it was no Venezia’s, but I would eat it again and not complain. We’re not here to review pizza though (that’s our sister-site, pizzapals.com) (just kidding). No, we were here for wings. Their site had the wing flavors listed as mild, hot and suicide. Ok, now hold on a minute. We’ve got mild, which is mild and at the bottom. We have hot, which is hot. And we have suicide, which is supposed to be super-hot and only the bold should try. I feel like maybe there’s a designation though for the sauce that is not quite mild but not quite the hottest. Something in the middle.
Maybe…medium? Yes, that’s it, medium. Their hot wings are definitely medium and their suicide wings are hot, and the attempt to pull one over on us with their clever wordplay was a ruse that we bested with our superior intellect. BOOM. CAN’T BEAT US. I AM SO SMART! S-M-R-T. Now, the sauces were very traditional, very classic, and the suicide had a nice hot pepper flavor and a vinegary buffalo sauce zing to them that I rather enjoyed, so I’m not trying to say anything bad about the actual FLAVOR of the sauces, just that if that’s supposed to be suicide, it’s the pussiest suicide attempt I’ve ever heard of.
I noticed then and I still remember now that I was impressed with the size of these wings. For delivery wings, for restaurant wings, these were large wings and I was happy about that. A little nervous, maybe, because the larger the wing is, the tougher it is to cook properly, but I was impressed none the less. The first bites we took still maintained some semblance of the crunch that probably would have been there if we could have had them fresh, and the abundance of sauce made for an enjoyable first wing. With each subsequent wing though, it got just a little worse and a little worse until by the time we were on wing 7 or 8 it wasn’t fun anymore. Whatever heat there was that came with the styrofoam had dissipated and they were getting cold fast. They had been fried, stored, steamed, released and exposed to room temperature, and all that tectonic-wing disturbance was messing with the entire batch.
Basically, the colder they got, the worse they got. No shit, but in this case they were getting cold at a faster rate than a normal dozen and had the disadvantage of having the steam affect how long they held their crisp. After 10-15 minutes, they were nigh-worthless.
I really want to be fair to Rino D’s. If you were just a normal person looking for some delivery pizza and wings to have on a football Sunday or for your grandma’s funeral party or whatever, this would be a more than adequate, solid, enjoyable delivery experience. They got it out fast and as fresh as delivery pizza and wings can go out. The pizza was good, the wings were huge, the sauces tasted great. I don’t want to knock a small business like that, I really don’t, and my purpose here isn’t to shit on them. Go get some for yourself, you’ll like it just fine for delivery, might even love it (you’ll love it more with a coupon).
I’m really more fighting the institution of delivery wings itself. Until some magical wing-box transport gets invented, they’ll never be able to be taken seriously against the big dogs of the wing world. A wing being driven in a styro-steamer for 15 minutes to get to you just means that the taut crispy skin loosens and becomes a wing-aficionado’s worst nightmare.
The wings and the pizza finished, we delved into NBA 2K12 and drank beer until whatever team I was controlling probably won the championship because I am a fucking amazing GM and I wheel and deal like a thug. We really wanted to try Rino D’s because A) it had been suggested to us and B) Tyler loved basketball but wasn’t too familiar with the ins and outs of the business side of it, and I thought there was no better way to teach him than with the majesty of the best sports game yet created. Turns out I was right this time, as we both became obsessed with every real-life NBA transaction and move over the coming season, every possible consideration of a trade and of course every Bill Simmons column. But we couldn’t play the game if we went out, so Rino D’s was chosen to deliver to us so we could act like fat children locking ourselves away in a room and playing videogames until late at night, and for that I am grateful to them. For that and their effort, because it was a good one.
Delivery just can’t hack it, unfortunately.
Rino D’s Pizza & Wings
1515 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234