Borgata Pizza Cafe: Story of the Little Guy in The Big CMH Pizza Pie Picture
Posted by cmh gourmand on April 13, 2011
I found out about Borgata Pizza Cafe from my pals at Pizza Slayer. They liked it very much. They also mentioned the phrase “New York Style”, that got my attention quick. Columbus has a large minority of people from the east coast that crave New York style pizza. These people whine and complain and beg for the pizza of their youth or their college days. They find pizza in Columbus failing and lacking and lackadaisical. These people are sad. I am sad for them. My sadness is based on two reasons. First, there is plenty of good pizza in Columbus if you know where to look. There is also good to great New York style pizza in town…if you know where to look. We have Chicago style pizza too, which probably angers more than is assuaged. At one time, and it may still be the case, Columbus had more pizza places per capita than any other city on the country. You can’t find good pizza here? If so, you are not looking. If so, you are not even trying. Granted, Columbus style pizza can disappoint pizza purists or cultists, but even that can be good from the right place.
The reality is this, not many people are looking for good pizza in Columbus. Many of our neighbors, co-workers and yes, it is true, some of our friends are content to eat boring, bland, soulless corporate pizza or pizza that essentially comes out of a can or plastic bag. With a bar set low for pizza and people reluctant to travel more than around the corner for quality pizza pie there does not seem to be a market for someone who “wants to do the right thing”.
So, with all of that Columbus culinary hubris who would dare open a new pizza place against such odds? The owners of Borgata Pizza did and they are still at it. The shop has been open just over a year and it could use a few more customers willing to try something outside of their normal pizza experience. Borgata is often a one or two person operation. Orders are made to order. Dough is make from scratch from a premium flour that costs twice as much as what most pizza shops use. The menu is small – pizza, calzones, stromboli, sandwiches, salads, a couple pasta dishes and a few homemade desserts.
I spoke with the owner and chief pizza tosser at length. He is a Columbus native. He graduated from DeSales and worked in construction for years. He had a friend that had retail space that needed a purpose so that became Borgata Pizza Cafe. It is a tough spot for the food trade. This part of north Columbus had its culinary heyday back in the 1980’s. The only thing that draws me to this side of town (Cleveland Ave. and Dublin Granville Road/SR 161) is the presence of some new immigrant ethnic gems (Mi Li Cafe, Solay Bistro, Salaam Bakery, Nazareth and some super Taco Trucks). Borgata is tucked in a retail strip by a service road just west of Cleveland Ave. It is hard to see from the road and even neighbors wonder if the place is new. The type of pizza served here is different that what the community is accustomed to. It might take a few more minutes to make and it does not look like the neighborhood favorite – Massey’s. The pizzas are bigger than normal too – 12″, 16″ and 20″ inch pies are the standard. The owner is looking for a 28 or 30 inch or larger pizza but he can’t find the right boxes to fit this size.
I sampled the meat combo (ham, sausage, pepperoni and mozzarella), a stromboli (sausage, pepperoni and mozzarella is standard) which was about 15 inches long and the Meatball Parmigiana sub (made with homemade meatballs). The pizza is definitely of the New York variety, or at least close, as in New Jersey. The pepperoni curled at the edges. The crust ring is big. Borgata also sells by the slice which is a hallmark of New York style pizza. The stromboli was the winner of the trio. It was clearly freshly made and cooked to order. It was also a good value for the price. It came with sauce for dipping (could have been spiced more, slow cooked longer and/or richer but it was good and got the job done).
This is a good pizza place that is trying to do the right thing with the pizza tradition. If they get more business, I certain they will get better and continue to improve with more selection, better (maybe even some local) ingredients and more recipe fine-tuning. These are folks that make a good product but are committed to making it better and maybe someday the best.
We just passed the pledge season for public radio, where we consider donating to keep public radio alive for six more months. I ask you to consider pledging to make pizza better in the next six months by supporting a local pizzeria, especially Borgata if you live on the North side.
Borgata Pizza Cafe
5701 Parkville St