Photos by Greg Nichols

In Bakersfield, there’s Tony’s Pizza and there’s Tony’s Firehouse Pizza and Grill.

While they are all owned by founder Anthony “Tony” Martinez Jr., the latter boasts a full menu not offered at the other four locations. The staples that makes Tony’s a local favorite for pizza and wings are bolstered by the addition of entrées like burgers and steaks, shareable appetizers and homemade desserts in a family friendly atmosphere complete a gaming area and full-service bar.

Altogether, the visit to Tony’s Firehouse Pizza and grill served as an exciting way to kick off the Food Dudes experience. As a fan of traditional dishes and adventurous flavors, we’ll definitely be back for more!

Appetizers

Traco Matthews on the breadsticks: I started with warm, twisted breadsticks that looked as tempting as they tasted. The dough was toasted on the outside and soft on the inside. It reminded me of my mom’s homemade bread. The butter and rich Parmesan cheese was paired flawlessly to deliver peak flavor. The accompanying thick red sauce was tasty, but not necessary to make these the best breadsticks I’ve had in town.

Henry Sanchez on the fried green beans: Anything fried is always a good. So when I saw fried green beans, I had to order it. They arrived in a huge basket, hot and fresh. I could tell the green beans were fresh because they had a little pop when I took that first bite. The batter on the green beans was well seasoned, thickly coated holding strong with every bite. The crunch was loud and crisp, the way fried food is supposed to be. Eat them plain or with Tony’s housemade aioli and you will not be disappointed.

Robert Gautney on the fire starter hot wings: Whether you are eating them as your meal or an appetizer, you can’t go wrong with hot wings. I like mine from mild to wild and I would say Tony’s is right in the middle, which means just about everyone will enjoy these. They came perfectly cooked and not oversauced, with both ranch and blue cheese dressings for your dipping pleasure. Sorry KFC, these are finger-lickin’ good.

Josh Fitzpatrick on the chili verde nachos: There are several things that Tony’s is known for, and one of them is its chili verde. The chili verde nachos were incredible! These can easily be ordered as an entrée. The portion is generous and the flavor is out of this world. They have the perfect balance of spice and substance. You can’t go wrong with these.

Jeremy Hearron on the Caesar salad: This is what a traditional Caesar salad should taste like. Crisp, fresh romaine lettuce. Croutons that give you the right amount of crunch – you know, great texture without assaulting your mouth – and just a hint of butter. The dressing, the main attraction, was spot on. The citrus in this dressing wakes up your taste buds, so your mouth can fully enjoy the other foods to follow. You get everything you want in a Caesar: anchovies, the richness of egg yolk, good olive oil, red wine vinegar and lemon juice.

EntrÉes

Henry Sanchez on the pan-seared salmon: Everyone knows Tony’s for its “za.” However, many may not be expecting to get pan-seared salmon at a pizza joint and I ordered it, deciding to go the healthy route. It came with mashed potatoes topped with gravy and a steamed vegetable medley. You know how annoying it is to cook asparagus? Well, Tony has the secret – it came out just right. The salmon was cooked to perfection, had a nice sear on both sides, but not overcooked. It was juicy and flakey, just how I like it. The mashed potatoes and gravy were amazing; the gravy really took the mash to the next level – creamy and not too thick. If you’re trying to eat healthy in a place full of pizza, the salmon is the way to go.

Traco Matthews on the chili verde pizza: I must admit that I was initially skeptical when I tried Tony’s famous chili verde pizza. Who thinks of putting chili verde on a pizza? Oh my stars was it sensational! The thick crust, gooey cheese and tender chunks of chili verde created a symphony in my mouth. The toppings were just spicy enough to keep my attention without detracting from the savory goodness. While unorthodox, the dish combined unique flavors and powerful taste making it the highlight of the night.

Josh Fitzpatrick on the Bubba’s bacon cheeseburger: Named after Tony’s oldest son, this house favorite did not disappoint. The stars of this culinary creation were definitely the sweet brioche bun and the thick strips of bacon. Fair warning: You’re going to want to sit next to the napkin dispenser with this one. I think I went through a dozen – just another aspect of the multisensory experience that makes this burger so popular.

Jeremy Hearron on the New York steak: OK, so who goes to a pizza joint to order a steak? This guy, and here’s why. No joke, this is one of the best steaks I’ve had. I ordered it medium-rare, more on the side of rare, and it came out perfectly prepared. The char from the grill gave enormous flavor, matching the exact amount of seasoning. Here is the real reason you should order one next time you are at Tony’s – the chef worked at Morton’s. Yeah, that Morton’s. The Morton’s where a steak costs an arm and a leg. Well, not at Tony’s it doesn’t, and I promise you will love it.

Desserts

Jeremy Hearron on the Butterfinger pie: I am not much of a dessert person; I would rather eat a second dinner. However, since I was taking one for the team, I tried the Butterfinger pie. It was so good. In fact, I would go back and order it again. Even more so, if heaven and hell came together in one union and had a baby, this would be it. Sinfully decadent. Sweet, rich, crunchy, soft, cold, chocolatey, peanut buttery – I could go on and on. The Butterfinger pie is sin and love on the same plate.

Robert Gautney on the cheesecake with strawberries: Full disclosure here, the Food Dudes ordered a sample of all the desserts and they were all awesome. My review is on the cheesecake with strawberries. Seriously folks, do I even need to break it down? If you like cheesecake, you will love Tony’s version. One bite and you have to finish it. I did, even after sampling all of the rest!

Josh Fitzpatrick on the hot fudge brownie a la mode: Just when I thought our meal couldn’t get better, I took a bite of the hot fudge brownie and was quickly convinced otherwise. This dessert includes brownies, covered with small brownie blocks, topped with ice cream and hot fudge. These aren’t just classic brownies. They’re cooked like a perfectly seared filet: an ever-so-subtle crunchy exterior and an interior that melts in your mouth. I didn’t care how full I was, I couldn’t stop eating these!

Henry Sanchez on the apple pie: If my grandma made apple pie for me as a kid, Tony’s homemade apple pie would really take me back to my childhood. The pie comes out hot with a side of vanilla ice cream. Putting these two together in one bite, you get the warmest combination of amazing. The apples had a soft texture and the cinnamon glaze has a nice consistency. The crust was airy, flakey and melted on impact. The pie wasn’t overly sweet, but enough to cure a sweet tooth. I’m not usually huge on dessert, but this pie is a mind-changer.

Traco Matthews on the fried ice cream: The dinner ended with a favorite from my youth: deep fried ice cream. One bite transported me back to childhood, when I first tasted this dessert at the fair. The ice cream was rich and topped with crunchy cornflakes for ideal texture. The homemade fried tortilla bowl added a nice twist. Generous amounts of whipped cream and hot chocolate syrup kept me eating bite after bite, even though I was stuffed. 

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