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Our Gourmet: Wicked Good Wings? The name says it all

10 Manchester Road, Derry, NH

If a wing is your thing — a chicken wing, that is — you can't do much better than getting one that is wicked good, unless it is at Wicked Good, where you will find dozens of varieties to suit anyone and everyone, and perhaps even blow away even the most stout-hearted fan of the spicy type.

Wicked Good Pizzeria/Subs/Wings and More on Manchester Road in Derry also serves pizza and sandwiches and wraps, salads and sweets, along with a nice selection of interesting combinations of pizza toppings that could easily make for a gourmet Italian pie — but we wanted none of that.

While we are waiting for the lines to dwindle at Texas Roadhouse on South Willow Street — isn't it interesting that one new eatery on that restaurant-overloaded strip can draw such weekend crowds when it first opens — we had a hankering, a serious hankering, for barbecue or beef or grilled meat of some kind.

Or, chicken wings. But GOOD chicken wings, and plenty of them.

We were not looking for the "dining experience," ambience, hovering waitresses or gourmet concoctions at $25 a pop. We just wanted to chow down with some good food, some good chicken wings, and not just the same old Buffalo-style-with-bleu-cheese-and-celery wings which wreck an entree-appetite as an appetizer and are boring with the same old sauce.

So we planned to sample a good variety of wings at Wicked Good, take our time and enjoy an entire meal of the morsels.

While dining, we saw lots of pizza and subs and, we suppose, wings going out the door for takeout. On that busy street in Derry takeout dominates — but diners can also dine insde, at a smattering of tables with two TVs for entertainment. Nothing fancy, but it's clean and comfortable.

Wings at Wicked Good are bountiful — 30 varieties, count 'em, 30 — and can be ordered bone-in, boneless, or nugget style. The owner told us he had tried dozens of suppliers for a uniform cut of poultry, and settled on the current vendor for its reliability and taste and superior attributes of holding up to cooking in the deep-fryer.

The wings are smaller than some, but uniform in size. We are convinced that chicken wings need the bone in for optimum flavor, and these are high on the tasty and juicy scale, with a slightly crispy skin, and manageable enough for one to make two large bites of each wing with the chicken meat slipping right off the bone. That is a well-cooked wing.

The sauces? A word of caution here. "Hot" chicken wings have been around for decades as a popular pub menu item, but if you want really hot, and ask for that, a chef is likely to extract revenge on some long-lost opponent in basketball or hockey while imagining you to be that person, or perhaps a relative.

Selecting any of the "Wicked" branded chicken wings at Wicked Good can be dangerous. The menu warns that the homemade Wicked Sauce could be 900 times hotter than a jalapeno chili. The math might be challenged, we suppose, but the sweat forming on your temples cannot.

We sampled six varieties of wings and came away with a profound respect for the Wicked warning, and a healthily satisfied palate after our modest meal of a fresh garden salad and a whole bunch of wicked tasty wings.

We started simply and in a non-spicy manner, with Roasted Garlic and Sweet Chilli, bone-in, and immediately warmed up to our task. The Roasted Garlic wings were a perfect first bite, nice flavoring of garlic in a creamy sauce, which is drizzled atop the sizzling wing as it comes out of the fryer.

The Sweet Chilli wings were better, with that classic sweet/tangy Asian flavor of non-spicy chili flakes. Again, deep-fried just right with the chicken sliding right off the bone.

Next up were Boom Boom boneless, and Brandi's Sauce boneless, again low on the spice threshhold but high in flavor. The Brandi's Sauce was a sweetish red sauce, sharing a slight Asian taste, but the Boom Booms had a distinct sweet chili flavoring embedded in a creamy sauce. Outstanding. Good enough to make a repeat appearance later.

Now, patrons must know that nearly all of the sauce and flavors can be ordered under the "Wicked" banner, so you have your Sweet Bourbon taste and your Wicked Sweet Bourbon taste, etc. Be careful of that; Wicked is the watchword.

We ventured toward spice on the next go-round with Red Hot Buffalo wings (bone-in) and another order of the boneless Boom Booms.

Red Hot Buffalo (NOT Wicked Red Hot Buffalo) came with bleu cheese to cool it off, and these red hot wings were, indeed, red hot. Not intolerably hot, not so hot that you need glass after glass of ice water (milk is actually more cooling), but hot enough to make one sit up and take specific notice. It was there that we used the bleu cheese to muffle the blast, and once the sweat started and the body's temperature rose to a sufficient level, the Red Hot wings were solidly delicious, but please note the spice.

Whle we could only imagine the heat in the Wicked Red Hot Buffalo version, we could not leave without venturing at least once into Wicked land. Diners can sample the sauces, carefully, before ordering, and so I tasted the Wicked General Tso's sauce. Just a drop. Then another couple of drops, then a small dab.

Tasted good, so I ordered six of the bone-in little darlings and just a few moments later, the sweat popped out on my brow, I was reaching for the ice water AND the root beer, and my wicked respect for Wicked Good was rapidly on the increase, along with my pulse. But that passed after three or four minutes.

The General's wings? Absolutely, without a doubt, top notch. Spicy as could be, even after I requested the chef to go a wee bit easy on the amount of the spicy sauce. Sweat-producing to be sure, even with minimum sauce, complete with stinging lips and tongue and entirely clear nasal passages ...but true to the name, they were wicked good.

From our sampling of the Wicked's General Tso wings, we were left with a lasting impression: Wicked spicy is easy. Wicked good and spicy is just plain Wicked Good.

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