I can remember when Fry's Spring Station was actually a gas station/mechanic shop. Now it has become a fun neighborhood hang-out with great pizza and local beer. It's especially lively when the weather is nice - they have a large patio (with a firepit) and they open up the garage doors and make the whole restaurant open-air. The restaurant itself is clean and modern - you would never guess it was a working auto shop just a few years ago! It also features a large open kitchen where you can watch the pizzas going into and out of the brick oven fire.
Now... first I want to talk about the food - and I will get to the service in a minute. Allie and I started our meal with the Fried Green Tomato and Mozzarella Stack. It's pretty much a riff on the classic caprese salad but with fried green tomatoes instead of raw tomatoes (and who doesn't love fried green tomatoes?). As you can no doubt see, they actually stack the fried green tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and layer them with basil pesto. When you get all of the elements (including the balsamic glaze) in one bite, it is the perfect balance of crispy, creamy, salty, and tangy. My only complaint is that the fried green tomatoes were room-temperature. I think the dish could have been elevated to the next level had the tomatoes been hot out of the fryer and made the mozzarella get just slightly melty.
The pizzas at Fry's Spring are definitely big enough to share - especially if you have appetizers and beer too! Allie and I opted to try one we hadn't had before - The Greco (though we omitted the kalamata olives - I'm not a big olive fan). Instead of a traditional red sauce, this pizza has a tangy but slightly-sweet balsamic glaze as its base. It's then topped with earthy artichoke hearts, juicy and just slightly shriveled grape tomatoes, and creamy feta cheese. The best part, though, is the spicy Merguez lamb sausage - I only wish there were more of it on the pizza! And all of this is, as always, layered atop the soft but perfectly charred fire-roasted pizza dough. Yum!
Now, about the service. On my multiple visits to Fry's Spring, I would say that the service has been great 50% of the time and no-so-great the other 50% of the time. On this particular night, the service was okay, but not exceptional. When we first arrived, we were told that there was about a 30-45 minute wait. We agreed to wait and headed to the bar to order some beer. We had just settled in and were still waiting to catch the bartender's attention when the hostess approached and said that our table was ready. Now I'm certainly not complaining about only having to wait 5 minutes, but I can't quite understand how they could be so far off in their estimate. Regardless, we headed to our table instead and I selected a local beer on draft from the menu. When our waitress appeared, she informed that that beer was among 3 of the 6 draft beers that had been "substituted out." Now again, I don't mind Fry's Spring rotating through a wide variety of local beers, but I feel like they should update their menu accordingly. Luckily, Allie's selection - the Wild Wolf Blonde Hunny Ale - was available, and she enjoyed it very much! The service for the rest of the night was pretty average.
P.S. - Has anybody tried the weekend brunch at Fry's Spring? I'd love to hear what you thought of it!
Overall Impression: Fun atmosphere, great pizza and local beer, but the service can be hit-or-miss.
Fry's Spring Station
2115 Jefferson Park Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22903