There's a reason it's called Chubby's

Over-the-top portions of high-calorie comfort food

Eats: Dining Reviews/Hot Stuff

October 14, 2004|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

T.J. Topper and Kevin Mundy are sick, twisted and demented people. And if you tell them this, they will probably laugh in your face. And then hand you a french fry.

A few months ago, Topper and Mundy opened Chubby's, a bland-looking restaurant and takeout joint on Belair Road. There's a reason this place isn't called Skinny's. Anyone with a less than lumberjack-sized appetite will probably feel daunted by the outsized portions here.

Topper and Mundy seem to have some kind of maniacal desire to concoct the most outrageously calorie-laden food possible. Their signature dish is the Chubby Burger, a 2-pounder topped with 4 ounces of pit ham, three strips of bacon, cheddar jack cheese, sauteed onions, mushrooms and green peppers, and of course lettuce, tomato and mayo.

Rumor has it that some people can actually finish this $19.95 gut-buster.

"We had two guys in here yesterday that sat down and both of them ate it," Topper insisted.

The signature dessert is a battered and deep-fried Oreo cookie, dusted with cinnamon sugar and topped with whipped cream. And if you're not in the mood for something quite that rich, too bad. Other options are fried cheesecake, cannolis and a black-bottom cheesecake.

The restaurant is little more than a carryout counter with a small dining area in front that holds several wobbly four-seat tables. Floors are linoleum, ceilings are dropped. A couple of televisions are on mute. Yet the place is clean and bright, with upbeat rock music played at a reasonable decibel level. A display case shows several Chubby-themed T-shirts for sale, probably all sized extra large.

Most of the business at Chubby's appears to be carryout, but patrons who eat in get real plates, not paper, and real, though slightly harried, table service.

Chubby's serves the food you know you love - burgers, cheese steaks, wings, ribs, fries and pizza - and most of the portions are over the top. According to Topper, the 6-inch cheese steak holds 10 ounces of meat, and the 12-inch bulges with 20 ounces.

Of course, everyone knows that size isn't everything. Chubby's cheese steak, in particular, is terrific. Tender, salty meat is chopped fine and permeated with onion flavor, though no actual pieces of onion mar the uniform texture that makes this sandwich so pleasurable. The melted cheese is mingled with the meat, not spread on top, and it holds the whole tender, chewy sandwich together. The sub roll is substantial enough to resist sogginess.

Other dishes are in a similar grub-made-with-love vein. Fries are salty, burgers are large and tasty. Pizzas are grilled before they go in the convection oven to give them a charred taste. You can get a plain one, of course, but what's the fun in that? Toppings include roasted garlic and barbecued chicken, and of course there's a Chubby Pie, weighed down with sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, ham, bacon and cheese.

The chicken wings, meaty and moist, are a combination of wings and drumettes and can be ordered with several sauces, including jerk, honey, barbecue or Old Bay. Try the custom hot sauce, which has a name too spicy to print but provides a nice balance of heat and flavor.

Chubby's also serves some slightly fancier items, such as shrimp scampi and stuffed rockfish. Could they be any good? I tested the restaurant's hand with seafood by ordering an open-faced seafood Reuben made with shrimp, scallops and crabs.

The sandwich, served on a thick slice of marble rye, was little more than a gooey, creamy dip with chopped bits of the seafood, covered with a congealed layer of cheese and topped with bacon bits. A thick smear of Russian dressing made it even heavier. It was hardly gourmet, yet I ate the whole thing.

Still, it's better to stick with the basics and bring a hearty appetite. If you do, Chubby's will treat you right. In a sick, twisted, demented sort of way.


Where: 9113 1/2 Belair Road, Perry Hall

Call: 410-256-6626

Open: Daily for lunch and dinner

Prices: Appetizers $3.75-$9.94, entrees $6-$16.99

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa

Food: **1/2

Service: **1/2

Atmosphere: **

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