Food and fun at Jiggy Ray’s in Elizabethton

Every now and then, my friends the Carnivore and Dieter decide to head out to a local restaurant and, as they say, “make an evening of it.” Their most recent foray involved the rest of the dine-around bunch membership and a short road trip. The venue chosen by my two friends was Jiggy Ray’s Downtown Pizzeria in Elizabethton.

Jiggy Ray’s Downtown Pizzeria occupies a storefront on the “Covered Bridge” end of East Elk Avenue in downtown Elizabethton. Jiggy Ray’s is known for its live blues and jazz music, and frequently has songsters and musicians performing on its stage. The dining area seats more than 60 diners in well-worn booths and tables under walls dotted with classic jazz, blues and rock LP records along with their record sleeves. Further back is Jiggy Ray’s bar offering beer and other potables located across from the kitchen. Restrooms are located at the rear of the building. As the five of us arrived at Jiggy Ray’s, the band on stage had the place jumping like a geyser playing a spirited rendition of the Lynyrd Skynrd classic “Sweet Home Alabama.” Our hostess, Anna met us at the door and found us a comfortable circular booth up front next to the action.

Pizza for Two Special: Our server, Chandra told us that the evening’s special meal deal was a large pizza with two toppings, along with two trips to the salad bar, and two fountain drinks, all for $25. Seeing as how big a large Jiggy Ray’s pizza was at the next table, the five of us decided that was a good start and that the two ingredients would be crispy bacon and spinach. Chandra was kind enough to explain what Jiggy Ray’s “It-Appalachian” cuisine is. The chefs at Jiggy Ray’s follow the correct (in other words, “Italian”) method of pizza crust preparation. First you must use only Antimo-Caputo flour and no other. The flour’s slow-rise proofing process gives each and every Jiggy Ray’s pizza a “from scratch” crust, and is the start of pizza perfection. As for the salad bar, its veggie and toppings selection, while limited, was nevertheless of top quality and freshness. Bibb lettuce leaves mixed with julienned carrots and purple cabbage were enhanced with green peas, diced, pickled beets, olives, both black and green, chopped purple onion and diced green pepper. With a balsamic vinaigrette as my salad’s dressing, I was very pleased with the leafy results.

Meatball sandwich: Jiggy Ray’s does an excellent meatball sandwich, as I found out when I ordered one ($9) on the recommendation of the Carnivore. Here, Jiggy Ray’s takes a baguette-sized loaf of crunchy Italian bread, adds a healthy quantity of their marinara sauce plus a quantity of mozzarella and freshly-ground parmesan cheeses, then layers on several savory and flavorful golf ball-sized Italian meatballs that are sliced for ease of handling. Arriving tableside, the sandwich looked so good I had it cut into five sections so the rest of the dine-around bunch could enjoy it with me.

It-Appalachian Legend: Not to be shown up by my excellent meatball sandwich, the Carnivore chose Jiggy Ray’s signature sandwich, the It-Appalachian Legend ($9). This heroic creation also begins with a fresh baguette, but piles on slow-cooked Italian-seasoned beef that’s drenched in the slow-simmered au jus. Next comes a quantity of Jiggy Ray’s blended cheeses and a quick trip under the salamander until everything is toasted and bubbly. As Chandra set this beauty down in front of the Carnivore, we all detected a feral glint in the eyes above his smiling face. After sampling my proffered bit of the It-Appalachian Legend, I knew where the glint came from and why the sandwich got its “Legend” moniker.

Making an evening of it: What with our large-sized 16-inch pizza with its flavorful bacon and spinach toppings, my sandwich of sliced, savory meatballs nestled into tangy marinara sauce topped with melted cheese, and whatever scraps of the It-Appalachian Legend we could pry away from the Carnivore, the dine-around bunch and I had a very tasty supper made of many parts, all joining together to make a delectable whole. With our lively conversation and an equally lively band providing the musical background, it all added up to an enjoyable evening’s outing. You know, you need to make an evening of it every once and a while. May I suggest taking your friends along to Jiggy Ray’s in Elizabethton. Do it as soon as possible.

Jiggy Ray’s Downtown Pizzeria

610 E. Elk Ave.



Mon-Thu 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Fri-Sat 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sun 12 noon – 5 p.m.

Available on Facebook

Credit cards accepted