One man’s mission to eat all of Akron’s pizza & jojos
eaten and written by Eric Morris
When most people think of the jojo, perhaps they think: side dish, an also-ran mixed in with a bucket of fried chicken. At Fiesta Pizza and Chicken, however, this is not the case. And these are not your humdrum slices of fried potato. The jojos they whip up are meals themselves. To summon every Food Network cliché, like golden brown or crisped-to-perfection, would be a disservice. The jojos at Fiesta are mammoth pieces of fried starchy awesomeness. In a succulent combination of a crumbly, seasoned outside and hot, flaky center, these jojos make a person wonder why the other side dishes are even an option.
Walking into Fiesta (the Valley location) feels a bit like a time warp. It might be the classic claw machine in the waiting area or the old school video games like Ms. Pacman and Tekken tucked away in the back of the four booth dining room. Or it could be the open kitchen with the throwback oven and deep fryer. It all certainly factors into the sense of nostalgia that takes over as soon as you walk in the door.
It could also be that, like any place that feels authentic and uniquely its own, there’s a sense that something special is happening. And for any place, especially a pizza shop, to stay in business for over half a century, something special must be happening. And, whatever it is, it’s delicious.
Although Fiesta Pizza and Chicken turned a boring potato into the magical jojo, the pizza is nothing to look past either. Much like the location itself, there’s not a lot of glitz and glamour in the pizza section of the menu: there’s cheese and there’s toppings—12 to be exact. The rest is up to you. However, whatever happens in the vintage pizza oven is, well, the start of a fiesta. Whether it’s the hunger-inducing glisten only melted mozzarella can produce or the almost criminal amount of pepperoni layered on top, the pizza at Fiesta is the sort of pie that keeps a place in business for 50 years.
For over 50 years and across four locations in the greater Akron-area, Fiesta has dished out both pizza and chicken (an idea, according to their website, that was once considered a novelty). And, perhaps most importantly, gifted the Akron community with the jojo, a present Akronites should be thankful for.
While the patrons of any Fiesta Pizza and Chicken will not be walking away from their meals any healthier, they will certainly be walking away happier. And as long as each store stays nestled into the strip malls and corner shops around Akron, and as long the costumers sidle up for another wax paper bag full of jojos, there’s a good chance 2065 will be another good year for Fiesta Pizza and Chicken.