CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

Dining, Donuts, Dives and Diatribes

  • Recent Comments

    CMH Gourmand on Product Review: Folios Cheese…
    bill on Product Review: Folios Cheese…
    Mark on Columbus Style Pizza Not Your…
    BD on Columbus Style Pizza Not Your…
    Mrs. Renison's… on Mrs. Renison’s Donuts, M…
    GeorgeMjr on My Lonely Lunch in Spain …
    Supporting Local Foo… on Top 13 Independent Columbus Pi…
  • Categories

  • Top Posts

  • Archives: August 2006 to Now

Archive for the ‘CLOSED’ Category

Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant – Revisited

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 31, 2013

IMG_0110

It has been over six years since I wrote about Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant. However, It has not been 6 years since I have eaten there or even six weeks. I am also happy to report that not much has changed in six years, and that is a very good thing.

Many people do not know that Columbus Brewing Company and CBC Restaurant have different owners. Eric Bean has been brewer and owner of the Brewery for quite some time now. While the two business share a roof and a name, they are very different entities. The restaurant continues to feature and serve Columbus Brewing Company brews as well as to make the beers active ingredients in some recipes. As the Brewery has continued to expand as a business, the restaurants CBC offerings have contracted a bit. If you are a fan of CBC’s Bohdi (Double IPA) the restaurant is still one of the best places to find this award-winning beer but they also run out fairly frequently. However, there is no need to fear, the restaurant does a fine job of sourcing guest beers into their line-up with a strong focus on local breweries such as Actual Brewing Company.

As for food, Brian Cook is still in the kitchen which is good news for me and some of my favorite dishes. I think CBC Restaurant has some of the best nachos in town and if you are dining with mixed company (vegetarians and carnivores) they do a fine job of deconstructing their nachos to meet everyone’s tastes when needed. The Cuban Burrito with a mix of meats, chips and plantains remains nearly the same as the version I raved about years ago. Another favorite of mine is the beer cheese soup which is typically available in the evening is a perfect starter for a fall or evening meal. Desserts are top notch as well (insider tip: sign up for the restaurant e-mail list for a free dessert of your choice with your next meal). Another dish worth mentioning is the Bye Bye Miss American Pie: a wood-fired pizza with house-made fennel sausage, banana peppers rings, pepperoni and smoked provolone cheese.

IMG_0108

The restaurant recently expanded hours to include Sunday Brunch so there are plenty of opportunities to see the depth of the menu the kitchen can push out. I’m happy to report that six years later that this place has retained everything that made it a great dining spot and if anything, has upped their game.

A final side note, I am slightly addicted to the house smoked chipotle sauce found on the nachos and the burrito. The restaurant partners with CaJohn’s to bottle their sauces so you can take them home with you. So there are two types of bottled products originating under the same roof.

IMG_0109

Posted in CLOSED | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

First Bite: Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 30, 2013


IMG_0473

Long time readers know about my fond memories of the Galaxy Cafe which closed years ago. Starliner Diner and The Explorer’s Club have Galaxy connections in their kitchen DNA. So when I heard that Jerry Burgos, co-founder of the original Galaxy Cafe and long time driving force at the Starliner Diner, was opening a new place I was curious to see how this new restaurant would compare to my memories. Jerry sold his share in Starliner about 4 years ago but wanted to come back into the business of owning a restaurant and running a kitchen.

This new incantation in the Galaxy Universe opened in mid-November. Long time fans will find the elements they associate with the name. The fare will be comforting to Starliner and Explorer’s Club fans. Most of the dishes are southwestern / Cuban themed eclectic classics. The decor is a hodgepodge of folk art, flea market and cool cookie jars mixed with bright walls and black and white checkered ceiling tiles.

Jerry has teamed up with his wife Jenny and a small staff to add the Galaxy to the dining choices of Hilliard. This is good news for people like me who feel that there are only a few good dining choices west of the Scioto (Olive Tree and Starliner Diner for me). However Jerry has some challenges to face with this new location so old-time fans that have been thinking about dropping in could give this new business a great holiday gift by dropping in before Christmas. Challenge number one is location. Jerry’s Galaxy is buried in a semi-residential area off the beaten path in Hilliard. It does not have a sign (look for City Kids Daycare to know you are close). It is near a bar names Nasty’s (really) ((Really??)) and the Lil’ Donut Factory (which often runs out of donuts). Challenge number two – the menu at the Galaxy is about the same as the Starliner and Louie’s (a Starliner spin-off) so they are competing against two mirroring concepts that are both less than one mile away.

As a new business that has only been open a few weeks there are a few glitches to tweak. Service was a bit spotty on my visit. The volume of the music is too loud, especially when the spaces are quiet. The menu is familiar but could use more detailed descriptions of some dishes. And the coffee cups are too small and too thin to offer an optimal coffee experience one expects at a diner.

All food sampled was good and worthy of the Galaxy name I just hope that Jerry will get the business needed in the early months to have a full opportunity show what he can do in the back of the house.

IMG_0472

Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe
4920 Scioto-Darby Road
Hilliard
614-319-4035

Jerry's Galaxy Cafe on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED, Diners, restaurants | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

CLOSED: The Original Leonardos

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 1, 2013

IMG_2548

Leonardo’s Pizza has a history dating back to the early 1950’s. It was one of the pioneers in a new wave of food in Columbus. If you read the comments on my older post on Columbus Pizza History, you will find many comments about memories of the several Leonardo’s locations over the years. The last shop closed their shutters in the late 1980’s.

Patrick and Anna Rose Orecchio started their first shop on Northwest Blvd. back in 1953 and grew a large family business with all of the kids working in front and back of the house. The empire grew to several locations by the early 1980s in various parts of town. Pizza gets in the blood and can often not be removed. This past month, Drew Orecchio (son of the founder) and his wife Laurie reopened Leonardo’s in a recently vacated Sparanos Pizza location on Hague Ave. Having read about the excitement of the grand opening in my blog comments I had to check the place out. The spot on Hague Ave. has a lot of history as well….but that is for some other time.

I suppose I was in a bit of a rush to try out this new version of a Columbus pizza legend. I left my wallet at home. No problem, after chatting with Drew and Laurie for a while, they were fine with me calling a friend to get a credit card number over the phone to pay for my order. By the time we were done, they would have gladly given it to me for free or taught me how to make my own – but I was insistent about not being a mooch. Drew spoke about his family’s history in the pizza business for a long time. He shared that his dad Pat worked 13 years without a vacation as he grew the business to other locations and mentored others in the business. Drew is clearly proud of Orecchio family history in the local pizza trade and has been overjoyed by the many former fans who have traveled to the west side for a taste of their past.

I did not have a chance to sample Leonardo’s when the original locations were open, but I did try the 21st century version of the pie. It won on all marks for me. Ample amounts of rich, slow cooked and herbed sauce, a crunchy and crackery crust edge but not thin wimpy dough crest in the in the middle of the pie. The cheese was dense with a few scorch marks in the right places. The version I tried, featured pepperoni which had just the right amount of curl and crisp. Some might call in a Columbus style pie, I say it is far better than the average for that genre of pizza.

I enjoyed the pizza and would gladly go back again. What I enjoyed even more was the conversation with Drew. He so passionate about his pizza, his business and his family he would have easily spoken with me for an hour at the end of a long day of a long week. Both Drew and Laurie have a lot of restaurant and food service experience which they plan to showcase soon when they add a bakery to the pizza shop. Laurie is a baker so I sampled one of her cream puffs and I am happy to report it is the best I have had in Ohio. The cream puff was enormous with fresh tasty and flakey pastry shell packed solid with plenty of vanilla cream. I consumed the second half the next day and it was still as wonderful. The desserts are currently from the Little Pink Pastry Shoppe and I can see their line expanding with Leonardo’s. These are good people making good food they care about. That is rewarding see and consume.

So based on one Pizza and one cream puff, I can say Leonardo’s is worth the trip. Other items include: calzones buffalo chicken cupcakes, pretzel sticks with beer cheese, sandwiches, house made soup in the cold months, pastas and salads. Head out to try any of those items with a pizza and hear a bit of pizza lore if it is slow. And make sure to take your wallet or they might think you are me.

The Original Leonardo’s
1783 N Hague Ave.
Columbus, OH 43204
614 487 0555

Closed Sundays
Open
Monday to Thursday 10 am to 11 pm
Friday to Saturday 10 am to 11 pm

The Original Leonardo's on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED, desserts, pizza | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »

9 Tables (In Athens)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 17, 2013

IMG_2527

Nine Tables is exactly that. Nine Tables. Most often it is three 4 tops and six 2 tops. The concept is simple: for three nights per week, Nine Tables aims to serve twenty to thirty people per evening in a personal, slower paced manner similar to dining in Europe. Guests are invited to have a long, slow dinner at their own pace. Your table is yours for the entire evening from 5 pm to midnight if you choose. Tables are not “flipped” so when your dinner is complete your table gets the rest of the evening off. At first thought, one might think this would be a formal, stuffy experience….far from it, an evening at 9 Tables can be anything you want it to be. Most often it will be informal, fun and relaxing.

The atmosphere is intimate, the small space is dark and cozy but there is enough space between tables for each group to have their own experience but also close enough to encourage camaraderie. The restaurant is BYOB and it is not uncommon for people to trade bottles or share during the evening.

The best table to reserve is set up next to the chefs prep table which allows full access to all the action and to Chef Bill throughout the evening. For each guest, dining at 9 Tables is like having a personal chef at your home.

IMG_2530

The restaurant is largely a two person operation. Husband and wife team Bill and Suzanne Justice run most of the show throughout the evening. Suzanne minds the tables and assists with prep and running dishes out. Chef Bill cooks and banters among guests throughout the evening. Choices are a tasting menu of seven or five courses. Almost all of the ingredients are sourced within Athens County usually on Thursdays to get ready for the weekend. Combined the duo work hard to create a complete culinary experience for their guests from first course to the ending dessert.

The two have an interesting history. They met at ACEnet – the local food business incubator. Bill was working as a food scientist. Suzanne was developing a product. They found they had a lot in common which led to marriage, a child. Those commonalities made them want to make a different dining experience for customers which would also led to creating a family friendly business model for themselves. Their limited hours allow both to spend more time with their family and focus on each of their customers individually. Bill started in the food business in “the front of the house” and then decided later in his restaurant career to become a chef. His combined food service experiences helped him to define exactly what he wanted 9 Tables to be: simple, fresh and fun.

IMG_2537

While it is mainly just the couple working the house for the evening, they do have a few staff drop in to help during the peak hours of the evening and to clean up after the doors close. Their two ten-year old daughters help out as well. Isabella helps make the cheesecakes and Sophie assists with the creme brulee – both rake in big tips when they come in to serve for special events. If you book a private event the two young ladies might make jewelry for your party to take home.

The 9 Tables menu is constantly changing based on what is fresh and in season. Many dishes can be adjusted to meet a guests tastes or dietary needs. Since the menu I enjpyed won’t be the one you experience, I will just focus on two of the seven courses of my meal and I why I enjoyed them.

My favorite dish of the evening was a serving of mussels. These were prepared in a sauce of white wine, heavy whipping cream (Snowville of course), garlic, red pepper flakes and parsley. All simple ingredients and all mixed to just the right proportion. The sauce and mussels were draped onto a freshly toasted slice of bread which swam….then sunk into the sauce. The best sign of a good dish of mussels is when I choose to drink the sauce at the end. I left no drop behind.

IMG_2543

My second favorite dish, was, maybe surprisingly, a salad. Suzanne mentioned the salads change constantly but are always more than just a simple mix of greens. My salad was a combination of fresh local greens, small balls of mozzarella and a few pickled peaches and onions. I don’t like onions and have never had a peach in a salad before but the pickling of both accentuated the flavors perfectly and made all of the elements of the salad able to stand on their own and together. The wholes were great but the sum of the parts were even greater. Because the onions were palatable and the peaches perfectly preserved I asked Bill how they came to him pickled. He shared with me that he pickled them a few hours before serving to help preserve their flavors. His pickling approach is a simple process which takes very little time but he finds it is one of the small touches people usually notice.

IMG_2542

My meal of seven courses lasted over three hours, if the Designated Diner and I were not in such a hurry to get back to Columbus before midnight, we would have stayed much longer. Dining at 9 Tables is like dining in a friend’s home for a small dinner party. It is a good exercise in retraining ourselves to the art of eating well: small courses spread over a long period of time so the meal and the company can be enjoyed equally. I will also mention that while I rarely drink coffee in the evening I was more than happy to indulge in locally produced Dawn Chorus Coffee, it was a perfect close to a wonderful evening. Thank you Bill and Suzanne for your hospitality.

9 Tables
Regular Hours: Th, F, Sat – 5pm to midnight

9 Tables on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED, restaurants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Swooping into the Coop’s spot at the Hey Hey

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 11, 2013

IMG_2514

The Hey Hey is an iconic dive bar located in Merion Village / German Village. It previously served as host kitchen to Angela Theado of the Coop. The Coop will soon be perched in a new spot in Clintonville so Angie put out a call for another Food Truck chef to fill her spot. Matt Heaggans swooped in to get that spot as the brick and mortar extension of his Swoop Food Truck.

Actually, the official name of Swoop is Swoop Food Group and it is now a combination of a food truck, two food carts and a lot of good culinary ideas. The Swoop truck was birthed in Washington D.C. a few years ago. It was at that time that my relationship with Swoop began. The captain guiding the ship at Swoop is Chef Matt Heaggans. About two years ago, I started e-mailing with him as he was planning his journey back to Columbus. I have come to know Matt and his crew well over the last year. The constant theme in anything Matt does is a desire to do more than expected and do it better. He maintains a high standard for all of the food he prepares from a lowly tater tot to the most haute of cuisines. Matt is a man of many words however, I enjoy him best when he is quiet. Let me clarify that. I have watched him intently crafting a dish in a kitchen with intense concentration and focus. At these moments he is in the zone and it is truly a pleasure to observe. What I enjoy best is watching him silently watch someone who is enjoying what he has created for them. He watches, smiles briefly then moves on. Sometimes the smile is a smirk and other times it is a large grin but it is always from the heart. Matt is happiest when he can see someone enjoy the craft of his labors.

The Hey Hey has a long tradition of serving food. The old standard expected from any chef who calls the kitchen home are the sauerkraut balls. Yak was added to the menu by the Coop and it continues as the signature protein of the Swoop menu. A bit of back story on Yak. The son of the owner of the Hey Hey operates a Yak Farm. The Coop featured a Yak Burger when it was a food truck. That relationship fostered the transition of the Coop to roost in the kitchen of the Hey Hey. Yak was quickly embraced by the very diverse clientage of the Hey Hey and has become so entwined with the Hey Hey experience that it had to remain on the new Swoop menu.

IMG_2526

I am sure that menu may change over time. I am also confident that two of the new menu items will remain as long as Matt is cooking in the Kitchen. The first is a burger that was described by one person I dined with as the “best fucking burger ever”. That was from a man who rarely uses profanity. His wife, who does use profanity frequently, took a different approach. She silently ate much more of the burger than she planned, a lot more. She was impressed too – but speechless about it which is the highest of compliments. The Yak Attack is a double Yak Burger served on a toasted brioche bun (made by Matt Swint formerly of the Per Zoot Food Truck), a special sauce (which I can not reveal) and a garnish of arugula, diced onion and tomato. It may sound exotic but I would say it is the epitome of a classic American burger just with yak instead of beef. It tastes lean. The bun is moist and has a slight crunch but just enough firmness to hold everything in place. It is among the finest burgers I have ever had. Given the opportunity to sample a few more over the course of time, I may even come to call it the best burger ever. I don’t give praise like that away. The Yak Attack is all that but does not need the bag of nuts.

The second menu feature I foresee as an enduring feature is House Pimento Cheese with Toasted Bread. The cheese dip has just enough spicy kick to it to keep your attention. The toasted bread is dense, chewy and filled with plenty of holes to soak up the dip. This is the perfect item to share with friends. Soon you will be interested to find how many other menu items you will find yourself spreading leftover cheese sauce on.

IMG_2521

There are many good reasons to go to the Hey Hey. You can go to enjoy the bar, soak in the history of the place, enjoy one of the wonderful live music performances hosted there, or partake in some exquisite people watching. And now the Hey hey adds in some of the finest bar food or any food for that matter. Check it out Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays evenings.

Hey Hey Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED, hamburgers, Mobile Food, restaurants | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Cookie Cravings: It Takes a Village

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 31, 2013

IMG_2465

I have been wanting to write about Cookie Cravings for a long time. More than a year. I meant to write about Cookie Cravings BSS (Before Seventh Son). You may have heard the phrase, it takes a village. In the case of Cookie Cravings, I think they were the tipping point for Italian Village and it’s renaissance. (Let me not fail to mention pioneer Michelle Hill at St. James Tavern for planting her feet in Italian Village more than a decade ago).

Cookie Cravings started as….a place that did cookies, really good ones. And over time, it continued to grow and expand the menu while reconfiguring the space too. Add in a few picnic tables, some chairs and signs to help you find the place (you need to know where to look) and Cookie Cravings really creates a sense of home. It has also given a food outlet to the starved denizens of Italian Village. What started as a pop up creperie on the weekends became a regular breakfast destination with all kinds of crepe and sandwich offerings – plus the occasional sticky bun.

Matt and Lindsay Tewanger have worked hard to create a place for the community and offer what their neighbors asked for to make Italian Village start to feel like the Village it was meant to be, where neighbors walk to a corner shop and come back again.

It takes a good meal to keep the Village in the village instead of driving away to the burbs. And those that visit walk around and think that they could see themselves there too.

I recently popped in for a breakfast. I had a bite of a perfect crepe but spent most of my efforts on a breakfast sandwich recommended by Matt called the California Club. In between one of his Brioche rolls was a stack of roasted chicken, avocado, bacon, fresh spinach and a dollop of garlic aioli. See below. It tasted as good as it looks.

IMG_2471

Cookie Cravings Bakery on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED | 1 Comment »

Explorer’s Club Food Truck & New Additions to the Restaurant

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 6, 2013

truck

Facebook: explorersclubmv
(to find the next location for the truck and more on the restaurant)

The Explorer’s Club Restaurant is about eighteen months past the day the doors opened. While other restaurants entered the mobile food world before Explorer’s Club, the team behind the wheel started preparing back in 2012.

Shortly after the restaurant opened, they started to rent a food cart on occasion to help get the word out about the Explorer’s Club and to support community events. They did well and saw the advantages of going mobile including having extra kitchen space in a building where cooking quarters are tight as well as a much easier way to build out a catering business. The truck launched in late May of this year and has been keeping busy doing corporate lunches, events, late night and weddings.

Like the restaurant, the menu is eclectic. While it often has a southwestern / latin themes the sky is the limit for what one might find on the menu on any given day. A few examples are posted below.

menu prime

menu 2

A few examples are shown below. Tots one of the most sought items on mobile food menus are frequently on the menu and in many of the Explorer’s Club Menu items. The example below is the Sloppy Jose Burrito which includes mac and cheese, Ropa Vieja (shredded beef), seasons tots and some saucy goodness.

burrito

Tacos in various forms are frequent flyers on breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, but always tacos with a twist of one sort or another.

tacos

For breakfast, this truck has the best options in the business including breakfast burritos, chorizo sausage Biscuits and gravy and one of my favorites an egg sandwich on Cuban bread with Swiss Cheese, jalapeno mayonnaise and jalapeno slaw.

For vegetarians, there is typically one or more strong options on the menu. For fans of the restaurant, many of the menu items are based on core ingredients at The Explorer’s Club but this is not a recycling of menu concepts, the items are meant to be served fast and friendly to eating on the go.


So that is the news on the truck. Here is what is new at the restaurant. It closed down for the first week of July to paint, clean and add ceiling tiles to reduce the noise level in the main dining area. Added to the space since my first post in October 2012: a second dining room / large party room, a small patio, an outdoor herb and vegetable garden, a cool bike rack, new artwork on the inside and outside and plenty of things I have forgotten. I can say that my favorite addition has been the pomegranate margarita which just happened to be 1/2 price on Tuesdays.

IMG_2129

Posted in CLOSED, cocktails, restaurants | Leave a Comment »

Tristano’s

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 23, 2013

To begin, insert sarcastic, obscure cultural reference below in the form of a satirical song:

Grove City is the place for me.
Suburban Sprawl is the lifestyle for me.
Strip Malls spread out so far and wide
Keep Columbus, just give me that Grovetucky corporate chain pride

(Sung to the tune of Green Acres)

outside

Note: Tristanos closed July 2016 and was sold to Yellow Brick Pizza

I have made some effort to discover the great hidden gems of Grove City. I have largely failed. However as a general statement, downtown Grove City and “old town” has some character. What happened to the rest of Grove City is nothing that has not happened in every suburban subdivision and population center in the country – massive growth fueled by strip malls and corporate chain restaurants that could be ripped from one part of the country and placed anywhere else with no one knowing the difference. My search for a spot of note has been often futile, sometimes comical and always enlightening. That is, until I tried Tristanos.

Tristano’s is an unlikely restaurant in an unlikely place. Located the distance of a line drive from downtown Grove City, on a residential street that looks to be from the early 1900’s, you will spy a large, greenish house at the corner of Columbus Street and Arbutus Ave. that has seen some better days. On closer look, the house has several picnic tables and high top tables on the porch/patio and just a trace of a neon sign. There is a wooden sign that looks like it has been there decades (but can’t have been there prior to 2006) posted in the yard listing the place as Tristano’s. Hmm, places that look like a dive are often the diamonds in the rough I dream of. Walking through the door, I had a good feeling that my quest for more than mediocre was about to end.

sign

The old home that houses Tristano’s is a little worn around the edges. If you take out the family feel of the local awards on the walls, the place looks a lot like a college frat / flop house. The bar / host / servers station / command headquarters is made out of plywood and is framed by an unused hearth. Don’t let this dissuade your from continuing. It my case this only encouraged me, places like this don’t worry too much about the aesthetics so they can focus on the food. The pizza styles here as well as some of the sandwiches have a Chicago influence. The inside tables are simple with indestructible checkered nylon/plastic table coverings and generic chairs. A corner nook offers a few board games and children’s books for entertainment. For the adult clientage, there is a small selection of craft beers including a Tristano’s Lager I believe is made by Elevator Brewing. A small selection of wines are showcased in what may have been a living room long ago (right next to the parlor side room converted to a prep kitchen). Yes – all of these were good signs. The sights and smells in my first five minutes through the door only confirmed my gut that this place had what I was looking for – great food.

kitchen prep

Many of you have not been properly schooled in Chicago Style Pizza(s) ((there are two distinct styles)) nor have you had the opportunity to manhandle a true Italian Beef Sandwich. I have. I am confident that any Chicago native would give a nod of approval to any of the Chicago styled foods streaming out of Tristano’s kitchen. Because I care about you, my readers, on my first trip I ordered a deep dish pizza, a regular thin crust pizza and an Italian Beef sandwich. All were good. All were authentic. As a person who once ate 13 Italian Beef sandwiches in one day throughout Chicago, I can state with assurance that the Tristano’s interpretation would hold its own against top five I faced down in the Windy City.

italian beef

There are three critical elements that are needed to create a proper Italian Beef. Bread, meat and au jus. I am not sure where Tristano’s sourced their bun, but they chose well, it has the density needed to hold the beef and au jus in instead of giving way to the table. The outer crust is crunchy, the inside is a bit chewy. The beef has been slow cooked for an extended time in au jus with the slices of beef piled on generously. The au jus is seasoned with plenty of garlic and other spices. A well sourced, spicy giardiniera is served on the side.

Now on to the thin crust version. This is not some lame ass, paper-thin Columbus style pizza, this crust is thick enough to support the weight of the toppings, the cheese and the sauce. The crust turns up toward the sky and thickens at the end to provide an ample handle for slice eating as well as a nice crunch and snap for the final bite. The specialty pizza I ordered needed to have stout crust, The Screamin’ Tristano includes: Roast Beef, Capicola, Sausage, Meatballs, Crushed Red Pepper, Jalapeno and Giardiniero Peppers, Onions, Tomatoes and Romano Cheese. I skipped the onions and tomatoes…which was a good move because I don’t know where they would have fit. This is an exceptional pizza especially if you need to clean out your sinuses. The sausage and meatballs are made in-house. The sausage is a bit spicy but in the way that pleased my palate very much. All of these flavors worked well together, so well that my additional investigation of the menu has been slowed by my need to always get one of these pizzas when I return for a meal. My only suggestion to the kitchen for the thin crust versions I have tried is to add a bit more sauce and add just a bit more garlic and oregano to the base.

deep dish pizza

I ordered the small deep dish pizza. I was skeptical about this one because usually a circumference less than 14 inches on a deep dish pizza does not bode well. I look forward to trying the larger versions of the pie because I am happy to report that Tristano’s deep dish easily places in the triumvirate of Chicago style pizza in Columbus (with Meister’s and Wholly Joe’s). The Tristano’s deep dish has a thick, braided crust at the ends. The inside is compressed with thick layers of cheese, five to six layers of pepperoni, a sauce with thick, tomato-filled chunks and a dough that is as chewy as the thin crust is crunchy. The cheese is the most cheese filled version of any Chicago style pizza I have tried anywhere. I have no complaints about the cheese but as with the thin crust pizza I would have liked a little more sauce with a little more kick to it. If I have to choose between the thin and deep dish pies, I would lean towards the thin but would be happy with either. I suggest you eat the thin crust on site because it loses a bit of flavor and resilience with the passage of time. I gave both the next day, cold pizza test and both passed my rigorous review.

deep dish porn

One note of caution: I have read some reviews whining that the pepperoni is too spicy. This was also a minor concern/observation of the designated diner. I liked it quite a bit, but you may want to consider if you want to risk the spice factor for your first pie experience. Another note of caution, Tristano’s serves desserts and they look really good, but so far I have only had room to split a part of a cannoli with my party. Tristano’s is not the only restaurant in Grove City but I can say, that is the only one I will willing make an effort to go to.

cannoli

Tristano's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED, pizza | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Yerba Buena is Back….Again.

Posted by CMH Gourmand on May 16, 2013

Not unlike the Terminator, Yerba Buena keeps going down for the count and then comes back from nowhere. When I last check-in in with Carlos and Carolina about the fate of Yerba Buena in Spring of 2012, the trailer was for sale because they were too busy with a new restaurant and an even newer child. But last week I saw the trailer back in the old spot. I called the restaurant, left a message….No response. And today….it was open. Yerba Buena is the mobile version of El Arepazo which means great food within walking distance of my house. El Arepazo started as a stall at the Latino Festival – then became a restaurant and then a second restaurant. The trailer has a really good run in 2011 but then ran in to some problems with their location.

Carlos and Carolina Gutierrez are the husband and wife owners of the restaurant. You can follow their story at the El Arepazo Facebook page.

The mobile menu mirrors the restaurant menu and is the same as the last time the trailer was working. Items include arepas (corn cakes), plantains, chorizo, empanadas and assort Latino beverages.

Yerba Buena
4490 Indianola Ave
Clintonville (about five blocks south of Morse Road)
Facebook
Wednesday to Saturday 3:30 pm to 8:30 pm (based on previous experience, these hours will change).
And please note: CASH Only, no credit cards.

(Note: Yes this is largely recycled content – my belly was full when I visited to confirm hours today).

Posted in CLOSED, Mobile Food | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Ray Ray’s Chicken Wings

Posted by CMH Gourmand on May 7, 2013

There are several questions the people in North Columbus ask about Ray Ray’s.

-Why are they just open on weekends?
-What happened to the original trailer?
-When are they going to open a restaurant?
-When will they make chicken wings again?

I have a hint to some of those questions below:

IMG_1942

The first and third questions are answered next. Starting on or near or at least close to May 11th, Ray Ray’s opens inside Ace of Cups to serve the people more often with more menu items.

Question two – the original trailer is for sale. Hopefully, it will help someone new make great BBQ.

And the fourth question. The chicken wings are back, permanently and with a vengeance. Take a look at the menu below.

ray rays

For those of you that have not been to Ace of Cups, long ago it was a bank. The former drive through window has now been converted to a walk up window for wings. The wings are sold by the pound with a choice of three sauces or rubs. And, going somewhat off the grid, the second choice from the fryer are Plantains. The dish is uncommon in Columbus but I think it will pair well with the beers and other libations at Ace of Cups.

The path of many Mobile Food chefs is to go from a menu on wheels to a cuisine under a roof. In the case of James Ray Anderson of Ray’s Ray’s, he has come full circle. Years ago, he honed his craft in restaurants, the last of which was Smackies. In 2009, he moved to a trailer and with a lot of hard work and patience he built a Columbus cult favorite. Now he is blending his two worlds to create one hell of a destination for food, music and beer.

After the lines die down and the menu is fine tuned, I am sure I will write about the wings. In the meantime, post a comment and let people know what you think of them.

IMG_1940

Ray Ray’s Chicken Wings
2619 High St.
Clintonville, OH 43202


Post Script
Astute readers (reading after May 17th 2013, who look at one of the photos will see the word Tostones in one of the menu photos. That name last about one day when Jaime (Ray Ray) was informed that his use of the word was not the same as the traditional use of the word in Latin Culinary culture….so it changed it immediately.

I stopped in to try the wings on day three of operation. I found them to be good, much better than BW-3. The plantains are decent but I would pass of them the next time. I prefer the style that Starliner Diner and Explorer’s Club serve. What might I like to see on this menu to go with the wings? I vote potato chips. For a serving suggestion, I would suggest go with a rub and ask for a sauce on the side, as pictured below. The second photo is of the plantains.

IMG_1994

IMG_1995

Ray Ray's Chicken Wings on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED | Tagged: | 3 Comments »