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gino's brisket sandwich

The brisket sandwich special at Gino's Pizza in North Bend.

NORTH BEND — If you're wondering where the mayor of North Bend was on Monday around lunch time, I can tell you. He was in the booth next to sports editor John Gunther and me at Gino's Pizza.

After a few pleasantries with the town's biggest cheerleader, John and I got to the serious discussion about why Gino's feels so comfortable.

We came to the conclusion that it reminds us of all the pizza joints we went to as kids. Mind you, that was a few years ago.

We ticked off the names of pizza franchises from yesteryear, like Shakey's (only 51 left in the U.S.) and Pietros (there still are a few of these in Oregon, but mostly north of Salem).

The $5 lunch special includes a personal size one-topping pizza and a soft drink.

I think it has to do with the rows of long tables in the middle of the restaurant and the booths along the walls. Then there's the fireplace on the east wall. And the arcade games. What pizza parlor would be complete without a series of arcade games.

Not sure about the rest of you, but I remember dropping rolls of quarters or tokens into Centipede, Galaga, Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac Man machines.

"It's something with the thin crust and the taste of the sauce," John said after getting his $5 lunch special which comes with a one-topping pizza (pepperoni) and a soft drink. "It's just a memory thing. It was good."

We went to the restaurant with the idea of getting a couple pizzas and an order of mojo potatoes to split.

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The "small" mojos came in a platter the same size as my sandwich. Since there were only two of us, I'm glad we didn't order the large.

That went by the wayside before we ever got into the parking lot there on Virginia Avenue. As we were driving up, the marquee on the sign said "Brisket Sandwich."

Not having had enough brisket at the recent barbecue competition over at The Mill, I decided that I didn't even need to see a menu. Although I took one, just to give it a look later.

The menu offers nine of "Gino's Famous Sandwiches," five salads, a host of combos before you ever get the pizzas.

They have all the usual suspects, along with Portuguese Linguica, Pacific shrimp, smoked oysters and if you really must ... anchovy. Another dozen appetizers ensures there is something for just about everyone on the menu.

Back to the brisket. I'm never sure what to expect from a restaurant that doesn't do brisket all the time, but I was pleasantly surprised. The sliced brisket was tender. I ordered the sandwich with onions and bell peppers as well as the tomato. It also comes with a blended pizza cheese.

I opened up the sandwich when I took the photo so you could see everything. It also comes with a tasty sauce and a bag of chips.

Oh, and a warning, the small order of mojos is much bigger than either of us thought. It was more than enough for the two of us along with our meals.

Have a happy Tuesday mayor.

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