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Clintonville Pizza Challenge: Hounddogs vs. Villa Nova, The Path of Redemption

Posted by CMH Gourmand on April 9, 2012

Redemption. Hallelujah!

If your read the last installment of the Monday Nerd Night Clintonville Pizza Challenge you may recall that things were looking dire for the series. Both contenders lost and the nerds were demoralized.

I was confident that Hound Dogs would deliver and I was pretty sure Villa Nova would provide a passable pie. I knew the series was sustainable when our pessimistic pizza contrarian had this to say about Hound Dogs, “This one is going to go far.” “This is damn good.”

The contest pitted a Hound Dogs Smoking Joe’s style (spicy sauce, garlic laden crust) with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms as well as a traditional Hound Dogs pizza with an extra layer of cheese vs. two Villa Nova pizzas with the same toppings.

It was also a contest of cultures and mindsets. It was North vs. South. Hound Dogs lies in the badlands near Baja Clintonville in Olde North Columbus. Villa Nova is a community standby located in the nether regions between Worthington and Clintonville. Hound Dogs fuels the food needs of Hipsters. Villa Nova feeds the working class families and geriatric set of those north of Graceland. Young vs. old. New vs. traditional.

I knew Hound Dogs would win. But I also knew Villa Nova would at least offer some resistance. Villa Nova makes money by giving people their expectations – basic food, good service and price points that are right on target for the budget minded. Villa Nova keeps their parking lot packed seven days a week and has done so well that they bought the Just Pies building next door, knocked it down to build a second lot and filled it on the first day.

At Hound Dogs, the motto is pizza for the people. Most visitors have a shared experience at Hound Dogs. Good pizza, often apathetic or distracted service. The tattoo laden, band on the side culture of the staff at Hounddogs is a stark contrast to the family of servers at Villa Nova. More than four miles separate these two approaches to pizza.

As a group, we also debated the value of the pizzas. Villa Nova was $28.50 for two 15 inch pies. Hounddogs was $25.00 for two 14 inch pies. If we measured value by mass then Hound Dogs won the value category.

(Above: The blind eyes of pizza justice in action)

Another debate centered on canned mushrooms. Love them or repelled by them, these rubbery, chewy canned fungi strike a nostalgic cord with those of us raised on Ohio pizza. We “know” it’s wrong but we don’t want to do right.

The final debate was on crust density and ratios. This was inspired by the two cheese pizzas. Each was double cheese, causing a mass of cheese pressing down on crust. Some liked a crust to cheese ratio of 1:1; while others advocated for the Hound Dogs 5:1 ratio.

Reviewing comments of the testers, there was one clear winner – Smoking Joes. If it was regular Hounddogs vs. Villa Nova, it could have been close but the spicy and garlic infused flavors of Smoking Joes is quickly addictive.

Hound Dogs advances to the next round and is currently looking like it may be the winner. Villa Nova received respect and honorable mention for a good cracker crust and spicy sausage.

Tonight is round four of the challenge. Dante’s vs. Clintonville Pizza. Stay tuned.

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