The website Thrillist, which has made over-the-top food experiments into something of a beat, recently attempted to define a stunt pizza. “Very much an ‘I know it when I see it’ situation, in which a pizzeria is seeking to create not only fine flavors, but also that extra ‘wow’ factor that moves the imagination and accumulates Instagram likes,” the site offered. Perhaps you’ve encountered social-media pics of a Hoboken parlor’s $80 pizza with a whole platter of tacos and guac? The mac-and-cheese pizza from Za, in Boston? The Des Moines–made pie topped with cream cheese and Fruit Loops?
Enter the Maine Attraction, from Limestone’s B-52 Pizza & Subs, which opened in the tiny Aroostook town last March. The toppings suggest a stunt pizza: marinara, mozzarella, sliced-up red-snapper hot dogs, and a generous pile of Humpty Dumpty All Dressed potato chips. Red snappers are, of course, the Maine summertime treat produced with natural casings and Red #40 food dye by august Bangor butcher W.A. Bean & Sons. Humpty Dumpty is the beloved-in-Maine cheapie chip brand known for puzzling flavors like Ketchup and Sour Cream & Clam.
The Maine Attraction passes the Instagram test. I posted a pic after driving in December to the northeastern corner of the County to try one. The crust was mouthwateringly puffy, the ridged chips lightly charred, the glistening hot-dog slices tinting the cheese around them pink. The pic garnered more comments than anything I posted all year.
“Every time someone orders one, I laugh, because I was bored one night, and it just kind of worked,” owner Dustin Mancos says. A 29-year-old Caribou native and an Aroostook County restaurateur since he was 22, he calls hot dogs “one of my favorite food groups.” His friend Joe Lapierre, who designed the restaurant, suggested adding chips. “People come in not knowing if it’ll be the best thing they’ve ever tried or the worst,” Mancos says, “but everybody seems to like it.”
My take: not half bad and probably even better after a couple of beers. The pizza gets some mild umami from the snappers and a vinegary tang from the chips, which are added halfway through baking, so they retain their crunch. But the Maine Attraction is only the second-best reason to drop in on B-52: Mancos and Lapierre designed the place as a tribute to the Loring Air Force Base, which made Limestone thrum from 1947 until it closed in 1994, covering the walls and counters with fascinating bios of notable airmen and detailed schematics of B-52 bombers and nuclear-weapons storage areas. I left knowing a bunch more about the storied Maine base. “I like to pay attention to the heritage of the town,” Mancos says. Also, to deliver, B-52–like, the occasional gut bomb.