It’s all in the secret sauce at Joseph’s Pizza
Italian has always been comfort food to me. Something about the warm, savory dishes on plates big enough to feed the whole family, homemade bread passed around the table, and desserts made with cheese bring back memories of great times around the dinner table. Joseph’s Pizza is no exception. It’s true comfort. Real Italian. Done right. If someone asked me if I wanted to go to the Northside for dinner I would have told them no. Until now. Located on North Main Street, Joseph’s Pizza has big flavor on a small budget.
From the moment we walked into the restaurant, the staff made us feel like family and the Italian spice aroma filled the air. We asked to sit at the “family table”- request that, it’s a long wooden table with bench seating. The restaurant went through a remodel about two years ago following a fire. I never saw it before but it’s bright and charming today. There’s even a painted brick wall that was exposed after the fire with some original paint on it that preserves some of the charm and history of Jacksonville.
The menu was full of traditional Italian dishes. To start, we got a dozen garlic knots ($4) with marinara and ranch sauce. All sauces are made in house and the marinara is something really special. Skip the ranch unless you’re a pizza dipped in ranch person. But this marinara. Was. So. Delicious. It’s chunky with tomatoes and other veggies and a special spice that I’ve never had before in a sauce.
There is a different special each day and that day’s was the baked ziti ($9). It came with soup or salad. I got the minestrone soup. It was a little creamier than I’m used to and the noodles were flat and not round. It was good. Not great. The caesar salad though was crunchy, fresh and the dressing a perfect blend – not too overpowering with any ingredient. I’d get the salad next time.
The baked ziti came out on a bowl-plate. You know, one of those bowls that look like an oversized plate with a bowl at the bottom and you ask yourself “is this really for one person?!” It was but I was willing to share. The options were baked ziti with sausage, meatballs or neither. We went with sausage but the meat was probably my least favorite of everything I had at Joseph’s. It was very simple sausage. If you like the traditional, thick, not Italian spiced sausage, then this is your thing. I’ll try the meatballs next time. The sauce in the ziti was the marinara that came out with the garlic knots and it gave the sausage flavor. The cheese was perfectly baked and noodles cooked al dente. The secret marinara sauce (because no one would tell us what exactly made it so good) almost made me forget about the sausage and the ziti, sans sausage, was super tasty.
Then came the pizza. We ordered the gourmet-style “Florence” pizza which is supposed to be crispy. It was. For $11, this pizza was good and very sharable. A little too crispy for me so next time I’ll try the hand tossed. All the toppings were super fresh and included feta, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms. Joseph’s Pizza has recommended pizzas on their menu as well as you can create your own. Next time, I think I’ll try the Joseph’s Special hand-tossed pizza.
Anytime I have Italian, I have to try the restaurant’s cannoli. I love how different chefs make slight modifications – some for the better, and some for the worse. To end our dinner at Joseph’s, we ordered the chocolate chip cannoli ($4). This one was for the better! It came out on a plate overflowing with chocolate chips and powdered sugar. Mouth-watering. I had to hold back my fork with what little willpower I had left in me to snap a picture. Then came the first bite. I was even more impressed with this restaurant. Stuffed with chilled filling and chocolate chips, the shell was thin and crunchy. There was something special about this cannoli too… it had extra cinnamon in the filling. A little different than a traditional cannoli with the cinnamon but oh so good.
The staff at Joseph’s are very friendly and treat you like family. The food is traditional, home-cooked Italian with lots of flavor and inexpensive. Bring along friends and share multiple items. Baked ziti and garlic knots are a must-try. On my next visit I’ll order a hand tossed pizza, more cannolis and try to figure out what’s in the secret sauce.
7316 North Main St.
Jacksonville, FL 32208
Additional location in Atlantic Beach
Cassie is a Jax native, Osprey and San Marco resident. This dog-mom loves exploring local restaurants and traveling to new cities. Professionally a CPA, she spends her free time discovering food, wine and beer on the First Coast and working out to burn it off. It’s all about balance, right? Follow her on Instagram @sweetplussavory