Open 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, until midnight Sunday through Thursday. Thursday. In Maryland, Smorgasbord available only at 143 Bowie Rd., Laurel. Phone: 953-7300.
It may not be best pizza in town, but it's far from the worst. And for families with pizza-loving teen-agers or children under six, it may well be the best deal in town.
The Village Inn pizza chain now offer - at three of their eight locations - an all-you-can-eat pizza and salad bar combination called "The Smorgasbord." The cost is $2.50 for those over 12 years old, and $1.50 for children six to 12. Children under six are free.
This special offer is available anytime at the Village Inn's Bailey's Crossroads, Va. and Laurel, Md. branches and after 2 p.m. at the Southwest Washington branch.
The Village Inn on Richmond Highway in Alexandria does not have a salad bar, but offers all-you-can-eat spaghetti or pizza for $1.75 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week.
The Village Inns offer some of the usuall hoopla associated with pizza parlour chains - free balloons, cartoons and old-time movies. But they also offer a few additional nice touches for families.
For instance, a stack of paper placements and a container of crayons await youngsters on a table near the entrance. There's a juke box, and parents will be glad to know that it is kept at a bearable noise level. There are free lollipops, and if little stomachs can handle it, there's also free cotton candy for children under six.
Besides regular and deep dish pizza, which ranges from 95 cents for a luncheon size to $3.95 for a large, the Village Inn offers several subs and other sandwiches - and cheese, meatball sub. pastrami on rye, western roast beef - all for around $1.40.
Spaghetti with meat sauce costs $1.75, and with meatballs, $2.40. And although it is not mentioned on the menu, a special child's portion of spaghetti is available for $1.25.
Most branches (six out of eight) now offer salad bars which for "all-you-can-eat access" costs 79 cents when another food is ordered, or $1.39 for the salad bar alone. For those with appetites to small to benefit from such an arrangement, a small salad is available for 55 cents.
The Village Inn has all the usual beverages, including milk, with a good selection of draft beer on tap and bottled beer. The draft beer, which is served in frosted mugs, averages around 50 cents a mug or $2.70 a pitcher.
On our recent visit to the Village Inn at Bailey's Crossroads, my husband and our two children ordered the "Smorgasbord," and I decided on a salad and a steak and cheese such.
The salad bar, while offering little unusual, was nonetheless stocked with fresh, crisp iceburg lettuce mixed with a little red cabbage, and a variety of other vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, red beets and olives. Toppings such as croutons, parmesan cheese and bacon (soybean) bits were also offered.
For customers participating in the "Smorgasbord," Village Inn made several varieties of pizza available during the course of the evening. Guests just wandered up to the counter and helped themselves. The pizza offered at this smorgasbord was thin-crusted and crisp and topped with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms ro just plain cheese.
We figured out that anyone under 12, who usually eats more than one slice of pizza, and anyone over 12 who generally puts away more than two slices, would save on the smogasbord prices. Not that we were counting, but we know we saw a couple of young men down a dozen or more slices.
My husband and our eight-year-old daughter enjoyed the pizza, especially the pepperoni one. Our five-year-old son, in a typical display of appetite, ate some green pepper slices from the salad bar nd the cheese off one slice of pizza. We were glad his dinner was free.
My steak and cheese sub was a minute steak with mehed swiss cheese. It was good and would have been great if the roll had not been dry.
Our bill at the Village Inn came to $7.44.