Leones Pizza: It’s a Toss Up
Posted by cmh gourmand on July 3, 2016
Leone’s Pizza opened in March of 2016 and on its first day of business proved it was 100% better that it’s predecessor (Pizza Mart) which was best known as being a home for 20-30 stray cats. While the sign does provide a prompt, to make sure you are on the right page, Leone means Lion in Italian. Owner Ryan LaRose comes to the business with a lot of pizza kitchen experience and as a (former) member of the US Pizza team is a past award winner in dough tossing. He is such a good showman he won awards for his talents and made appearances on local and national television. So now you know why the tagline is “There’s a show in the dough.”
Excitement in Clintonville and Worthington trended high in the first week of business and has remained so because Leone’s offers what the area has been sorely lacking: New York Style Pizza. In my hierarchy of doughy needs my excitement was about the pizza rolls (rarely seen in our “fare” city), Pinwheels – which I can not describe but can attest to be superior based on a few I tried and (authentic) cannoli which is also a rare thing on our “fare city”. Another layer of excitement comes from the ability to get a “slice” during lunch.
The problem with my hierarchy is that the pinwheels and pizza rolls rarely seem to be available.
Moving into the pizza department, I have sampled quite a few pies and find that while I am a fan of the place and the staff, the pizza suffers from consistency issues.
The Stuffed Pizza is basically one pizza on top of another with toppings in between. This is available as a 16 inch pizza only (medium). The version I tried was good, but cooked several minutes too long (there was some char) and for what I received was overpriced at $28. It would have been a much better pizza at $22 minus the char.
The standard New York Style Pizza is true to technique although it trends a bit more greasy than my favorites in the Big Apple. The cheese used is exceptional. On the pepperoni side, I would prefer locally made Ezzo’s for flavor and mouth feel.
My favorite and the best executed pizza to date has been the Bianco which blends mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, olive oil and fresh Basil. This is a superior pie.
In the non pizza area, I have only tried one sandwich….kind of. I ordered the Sausage Parmigiano. I was excited about this because they make their bread in-house and the sandwich features fresh marinara, mozzarella and sausage. When I brought the sandwich home and unwrapped it I found the bread to be very dark brown with some streaks of black scorch in it. The inside of the bun/roll still seemed fresh and a big doughy so I gave the less charred section a bite….and stopped. My tongue was fairly sure it connected directly with a salt shaker.
I called the shop and explained my experience. They apologized for not hitting their mark. They also told me my order was now on their wall of shame and that next time I came in I would have that same sandwich for free so I could experience how it was meant to be enjoyed. I was satisfied with the response and will look forward to trying it some time…..with a Bianco as a back up just in case.
There is a lot more for me to explore on the menu and I would encourage each of you to give this place a try. As a new business in an off the beaten path location, they can use some community support. For those of you that have tried Leone’s, please comment on this post to add your experiences to mine.
5413 Sinclair Road