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Archive for the ‘pizza’ Category

Sparanos: The Secret of San Margherita & Home of the Heavy Duty Pizza

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 30, 2017

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Until just a few months ago I had limited experience with Sparanos. I think I tried them once when they had a location in Grandview near the old location of Bono Pizza. I recall it being good but the service was apathetic at best. I may have tried a piece at a Pizza Grand Prix back in the day. So while I was aware of Sparanos my memories gave me no incentive to seek it out. I knew they once had a location on Hague Ave which another pizzeria took over but closed less than a year later. They seemed to have some history but I could not find out much about them.

A few months ago, I received a call from Smokehouse Brewing letting me know their power was out. Since I had a tour scheduled there in a few hours, this caused some significant trepidation. As I formulated some back up plans I called the guests only to find out one had a birthday that day and several were on the Interstate in the middle of a three-hour drive to get to Columbus just for the tour. The show MUST go on. I contacted Craig at Sideswipe Brewing to ask for a favor. Could he open an hour early for me and did he know a pizza place that delivered to his brewery. He had a few but mentioned that customers really seemed to like Sparanos. So that made my plan.

I called in the order, prepped my guide and joined to the group at Sideswipe to pay for the pizza and make sure all went well. While I did not have a chance to try the pizza it looked great. The guide said the group loved it and wanted more information on where they could find a location for more. This boded well so when I had a planned substitution for Smokehouse the following month, I decided to try the same plan again. However, my professional code of conduct dictated that I throughly sample Sparanos if I was going to intentionally feature them with Sideswipe.

On my first reach mission, I had a hard time finding the Sparano’s. It is tucked in the middle of a bargain built retail strip with a bar on one side, a gaming store on the other and minimal signage. It would be easy to drive by and never know it was there.

I tried a Meatball Sub and a medium pizza with pepperoni. Both exceeded expectations. The meatball sub featured very good (fresh, flavorful, probably house made) meatballs, tasty sauce and a perfectly toasted and fresh bun. The pizza was well-balanced. What caught my attention was the crust. The dough was cooked just right in the base and had just enough crispness in the outer crust ring.

As I was waiting for the order above, I noticed the place was pretty spartan, five or six small two top tables lining the edge of the kitchen. The walls displayed multiple 1st, 2nd and 3rd place banners for wins at Slice of Columbus competitions spanning over ten years. So it seemed other people liked this place too.

A delivery for a side project took me back to the same part of town the next week so I figured I would give Sparano’s another try on the fly. I was in a rush so I ordered a Heavy Duty Pizza instead of a Heavy Meat Pizza. The Heavy Duty is pepperoni, sausage, ham, mushrooms, onion, green peppers, banana peppers and extra cheese. Sparano’s is pretty serious about the Heavy Duty, they trademarked the term. The Heavy Meat (what I meant to order) is Pepperoni, ham, ground beef, sausage and extra cheese. So the two are not that different unless you are me. I hate green peppers and onions and I hate them the most when they are on a pizza.

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Having figured out my mess up after the pick up, I was mildly despondent. However, the sub I ordered cheered me up quickly. The Michael Angelo is Sparano’s special recipe sub and as my quick consumption confirmed it is also a work of art. I was not able to break the code of the special recipe but the sub had a great bun (once again), fresh ingredients and a lot of meat. Based on this one eating, I’m firmly convinced this sub is a firm tie for first with Susie’s Sub Shop as the best sub in town.

Now back to the Heavy Duty and the travails of my tasting preferences. I’m not sure how Sparano’s cooked the Heavy Duty but I suspect it is a two part process. It was incredibly easy for me to pick the onions and green peppers off of the pizza. They were barely integrated into the cheese, in most cases they just had a sear to them like something shish kabobed instead of the typical wilted vegetables that are so integrated into cheese that the cheese looses flavor as it merges withe the (wretched) flavor of green peppers and onions. Like playing doctor in the game operation I was able to remove the offending toppings with surgical precision and enjoy the my lightened version of the Heavy Duty. What really stood out to me among the remaining toppings was the sausage. It is perfectly cooked, neither over nor under done, had a balanced amount of spice and is loaded on in moderately bite sized pieces. I look forward to trying the Heavy Meat next time.

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On my way home from the second trip I took a different way home. I notice that Johnnie’s is almost right across the street from Sparano’s! And just over the train tracks and around the corner is Casa di Pizza. All three of these spots are located within a small section of town known as San Margherita. This area has a lot of history to offer and three great places to eat.

The proximity of these three businesses creates a great hobbit style triple lunch opportunity which in my case would be Sparano’s Michael Angelo sub with a 10 Inch Heavy Meat Pizza, a Johnnie’s Roast Beef sandwich and some ribs from Casa di Pizza all to consume at my leisure on top of Shrum Adena Mound. That would make for a great afternoon and a wonderful extended meal.

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Sparano's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Posted in Best Pizza in Columbus, pizza, Sub Dude | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Yellow Brick’s “Tristanos” Deep Dish Pizza Test Drive

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 15, 2017

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There is no shortage of pizza options in Columbus but there is an absolute dearth of deep dish pizza of any quality grade. In the past I opined that only three were worth mentioning: Meister’s, Wholly Joe’s and Tristanos. As much as I love Meister’s, I had a very slight preference for Tristanos. Last year word came out that Lou Tristano had finally sold his business. It was long overdue, Lou makes great food but is/was a threat to himself and his employees operating a food based business.

I was sad to lose Lou and in my opinion (whether deep dish or not), one of the best pizza makers in Central Ohio. I then saw hints of a salvage operation by Yellow Brick Pizza to learn some of his Chicago based secrets of Lou before he passed the pizza peel to others. Facebook showed traces of Lou teaching Yellow Brickers how to make some of his recipes and by report the learning curve was looking good.

I don’t know when or if Yellow Brick may open a Grove City satellite in Tristanos old spot but when I saw they were offering Tristano’s Deep Dish as a special in Old Town East I knew I had an obligation to observe, investigate and act. I also think highly of Yellow Brick so I believed the Tristano’s legacy to be in good hands.

A few things you should consider before you do your own research. You can not pre-order this pizza. It will take at least 40 minutes to make – more if the place is remotely busy and a two topping Deep Dish pizza will knock you back $31.18.

The waiting is not such a bad thing, because it means someone is making it right. In order to be to objective as possible, I asked two research assistants to try a slice with me (after I fed them other pizza so hunger pangs would not influence their thoughts).

My crack team included Matt Prime. This was his opinion:

Rated it a solid 4 (on a scale of 5) noting: good crust and sauce that really complimented the spice in the sausage and a great cheese to toppings ratio. Easily one of the best Chicago pies I’ve had in Columbus in recent memory.

Also in the team was Mister Doctor who opined: Good pie Jefe.

I also brought a slice home to Mrs. Gourmand, while my two on site research assistants had never tried Tristanos, Mrs. Gourmand shared every Tristanos experience with me during my brief exile in Grove City. Her opinion was that it was good but she could detect significant differences in the sauce. Mrs. Gourmand is Italian and makes superior sauce. She also has an olfactory sense unparalleled by any other human. She can smell things that even my dog would miss. If she sniffed this out as not quite the original I will accept that as gospel.

Yellow Brick Tristanos Deep Dish Pizza

Now for my assessment. The visual presentation of the deep dish was on par with Tristanos. The slices were thick and pie like. There was a signature recurring twist in the crust ring and a foldover filled with a trace of cheese in the crust as it rises from the bottom to the top. The pepperoni were laid out in thick rows between the crust and the cheese. The pie was significantly cheesy with evidence of such presented below.

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Assessing flavor, taste, etc., based on a pizza recipe I had not had sampled in almost a year is tough but based on my memory I’d say the Yellow Brick interpretation of Tristanos is about 91% on target. Mulling over the experience for 24 hours, I believe part of the difference I noted was due to the toppings I chose. Lou made his own sausage which added a trace of spice to the mix that I doubt could be replicated by anyone else.

I also tried a slice of pizza the next day using the time-tested cold pizza test. That slice was also assessed be a very good pizza.

In recap, using subjective and objective methods as well as a team of tasters, I proclaim the Yellow Brick Tristano’s Deep Dish Pizza one of the top three of its type in Central Ohio.

Posted in Best Pizza in Columbus, pizza | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

The Godfather: Massey’s Deep Dish Pizza

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 27, 2016

There are not many good deep dish options in Columbus and among those, by my count only three good choices. Unfortunately, that number dropped to two this past summer. Tristano’s was my favorite but the business finally closed and the some of the best pizza in Central Ohio was taken off the table.

A few weeks ago I caught a glimpse of a deep dish pizza at Massey’s on a commercial. It immediately caught my attention adding a glimmer of hope that I might be able to go back to three go to options for deep dish pizza. I do like Massey’s and had a notion that they could pull this off. (Long time readers may recall previous appearances of Massey’s in such memorable posts as Buffet Battle: Pizza and Columbus Pizza History a Slice by Slice account).

Could Massey’s deliver? Well in my case I live too far away from Massey’s so I opted for the pick up option.

When I picked up my order, my hopes were high. There was a very noticeable difference in the weight of the deep dish box vs. the other pizza box I was transporting home.

When I opened the lid, the visual and olfactory indicators were trending upwards.

the-godfather-masseys

Cognitively I had high hopes, believing Massey’s Godfather had potential to knock it out of the park because Massey’s history literally involves the godfathers of Columbus pizza.

Jim and Dan Massey (original family name was Massuci) learned their trade from Romeo Siri. They opened the first pizzeria (by name) in Central Ohio. Guido Casa (also one of the early godfathers of pizza) took over the Massey’s empire in 1962. Massey’s grew through the late 1990’s then stumbled in 1999 closing all locations. Jim and Dave Pallone (cousins of the Casa’s) have been bringing the chain back in the last 15 years maintaining the traditions and techniques of the original godfathers of pizza going back to 1949.

And the verdict? Massey’s tagline is “The Cadillac of Pizzas” but my assessment of the Godfather is this interpretation is more of a Dodge Dart.

The Godfather features Deep Dish crust, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Mozzarella and Provolone and is only available as a 12” inch pizza. The toppings are generous (as you will find on any Massey’s Pizza). For my pizza, the bottom crust was over baked and I found the crust ring, doughy and a bit undercooked. Sections of the cheese were undercooked as well. This version was a bit light in sauce. The overall product seemed to me to represent more of a pan pizza (which was once the rage….back in the day) in taste and appearance. A Chicago Deep Dish purist would not consider this true to style. Most would probably consider this to be a thick crust pizza with a high crust ring. Another style difference is the order of ingredients. A traditional deep dish pizza typically has sauce on the top, followed by cheese, toppings then crust at the base. Massey’s Godfather follows the traditional layout of toppings on top, then cheese and sauce on top of the crust. Overall on a scale of 5, I’d give this one a 3.3.

While not a bad pizza by any means, I’ll stick with Meisters and Wholly Joe’s for my Central Ohio deep dish needs.

godfather-slice

Posted in culinary knowledge, pizza | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Morone’s Italian Villa: Buffet Battle – Pizza (Addendum)

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 17, 2016

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This is a late entry to the Buffet Battle – Pizza, Series.

Morone’s Italian Villa
Bethel Centre
1490 Bethel Rd
(614) 457-7444

My connection to Morone’s goes back to my high school days in the area. Morone’s was a little more fancy than the other pizza places in North Columbus, so if you were heading out with a group – Morone’s was a big deal. I recall in high school eating carry out Morone’s Pizza (sausage and pepperoni) at a friend’s house many Saturday nights and looking forward to it week after week. The last time I could recall dining there was 1991? But as fate would have it, I wrote about it in 2007 when I tried their French Fry Pizza at an evening buffet. (I did not figure this out until I got home and started writing this).

The lunch buffet is offered Monday to Friday from 11 am to 2 pm. In addition to pizza, there is a salad bar featuring mixed salad, tomatoes, cheese, three dressings, cottage cheese, chocolate pudding, two pasta salads, cole slaw and a few other things for a total of nine items. There are also two pastas, a soup (that is hard to reach unless you go to the opposite side of the station), and some toasted Italian bread.

The pizza I tried was a bit fluffier, airy and more doughy that most other Columbus pizza places. There was a bit of char of the crust ring which had some crispness. The pepperoni seems like a slightly cheaper grade – but did have the curl I like to look for. The sauce was lightly applied to the dough and seemed a bit generic. The potato pizza I tried was a bit daring and added diversity to the offerings. The price for all of this with a beverage included was $9.69.


(Scale of 1-5)

Value 4
Quality 3.5
Quantity 3.5
Pizza Grade 3.25
Kid friendly Quotient 4


The food, especially the pizza did not taste like I remembered it (in 2007 or 1985 to 1991). While chatting with one of the cooks (when I still thought I had not been there since the 1990’s,) he mentioned he worked at Morone’s in the 1990’s but left and since that time, there had been three different owners until the present. So that explained the disparity between my memories and my dining experience at the buffet.

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Morone's Italian Villa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Buffet Battle, food, pizza | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Mama Renie’s Pizza: McArthur Ohio

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 29, 2016

(An installment in the Route 56 Trilogy and the Grumpy Old Man Saga)

Our tale of Mama Renie’s involves several sidetrips both literally and figuratively so let us begin our journey. The path to Mama Renie’s was a long and winding trail. it began when I became aware of Family Donut Shoppe in Londonderry which started my exploration of Route 56. For this trip to McArthur I sought out a co-pilot in the Grumpy Old Man. Readers may be familiar with the Grumpy Old Man from another installment in the Route 56 Trilogy – Carl’s Townhouse. One the first exploration of Route 56, I talked the Grumpy Old Man into going to Family Donut shop the first time by promising a trip to O’Betty’s in Athens after. At the mid-point of our first Route 56 adventure we passed through Mcarthur and the place below caught my eye. My eatery sixth sense kicked in and knew I had to head back some day (soon).

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(Take a look at the sign in the photo). A sign on a pizza place which says Breakfast 6 am is the sign of a full service establishment that warrants investigation. Looking at the brick work (glazed enamel which was high-end in the 1920’s) of this building I could tell this place has a lot of history which meant – the potential for a lot of character.

So once again, I talked the Grumpy Old Man into joining me on another Route 56 adventure. This time we would go to Carl’s Townhouse and since Family Donut Shop was only 15 miles away we would head back there and then proceed to McArthur for a very detailed scouting mission.

Now long time readers of this blog are thinking “why would the Grumpy Old Man need to be talked into what sounds like a great day trip?” Well, the back story is complicated but I’ll provide some bullet points. I’ve known the Grumpy Old Man for almost thirty years and along the way we have had many good adventures: camping trips, a trip to Baltimore where I slept under a pool table and wore reindeer pants, a 4 day trip to Puerto Rico that nearly led to my death by pork and rum overdose and at least six trips to Lake Hope. The Lake Hope adventures are the ones that lead to the trepidation the Grumpy Old Man has when I make a trip pitch to him. Lake Hope Adventures typically involve the following: five to seven meals per day in Athens (sometimes going to the same place two to three times in a day), a long hike where we are sometimes unclear if we will finish…or survive, a hangover, often extended bursts of intestinal gas and on our last two trips drinking one bottle of Yering Station Fortified Shiraz which is the finest and one of the most potent wines in the world. And unfortunately for me can only be found at the Yering Station winery in the Yarra Valley and my supply is now depleted which is fortunate for the Grumpy old man. While the Grumpy Old Man enjoys a trip to Lake Hope he has found the rigors of my itineraries wear him out and age him about 1 year in 3 to 4 days. A shared bottle of fortified Shiraz seems to age him about 3 years. My additional selling point for our McArthur scouting run is that this little town is only 14.7 miles from the cabin we stay in at Lake Hope. Somehow in all of our trips to Lake Hope and the surrounding area we have never been to McArthur. So if McArthur did indeed have a good place to eat, I would have an alternative to Athens on our adventures and thus he would have some protection from my indulgences at Jackie O’s, Devil’s Kettle, Little Fish, West End Cider House and such. This added to a guaranteed trip to Family Donut Shoppe allowed the Grumpy Old Man to commit to be tripped.

However, after lunch at Carl’s and second lunch at Family Donut Shoppe, the Grumpy Old Man asked if we were going to skip McArthur and just head home. Of course my response was merely a roll of my eyes as we moved on down the road to our destiny (this is why I always drive so that my agenda can’t be trumped).

Upon arrival in McArthur we did a quick drive by of our target sites in town then exited the vehicle to explore McArthur on foot (which took about 10 minutes). We were not sure if Mama Renie’s was open and the Grumpy Old Man was reluctant to enter so I scouted it solo by trying to find an unlocked door. I was a bit disoriented upon entering because the interior is very dark with minimal lighting as well as a very dark, long wood bar and booths. I knew based on the look of the bar alone that Mama Renie’s was worth this trip. I returned outside to fetch the Grumpy Old Man and apparently I was not just scouting for myself, as two frumpy twenty something ladies that were also casing out the place entered when I came out to give the thumps up.

Since Grumpy and I were both full from our previous meals we just opted to order a beer a piece as we took time to soak in the atmosphere of the bar. I explained that we would not be eating but that would still like to look at the menu. The menu looked very promising offering a full breakfast menu, some sandwiches and of course pizza. One thing caught my eye because it was completely unexpected…..homemade potato chips. So against the protestations of the Grumpy Old Man I placed an order. You can see where the chips fell below.

chips

These chips were great. Some were very crispy and a few still had some chewiness. All together the best barroom snack for a place like this. While we munched away we began to chat with our server/host to find that her son has owned the restaurant for over 15 years but in the past the place had hidden tunnels and trap doors used to hide and sell moonshine during prohibition. Other things that caught my eye during my exploration of the building were decades of photos of local sports teams – mostly basketball, which is big in Vinton County. I also found an old business license and photo of owners from the late 1940’s. All in all the place has the look and vibe of many of the neighborhood bars in Cleveland so the Grumpy Old Man felt right at home. I continued my discussions with our new friend behind the bar I decided that I needed to order a pizza (to go – even I was beyond full at this point) because she kept talking about how good the pizza was. We also covertly watched what the other people were eating (everything looked good) and heard an older couple struggling over what pie to order. In the process of their deciding we overheard that the pie purveyor Mama Renie’s uses is well-known throughout Vinton County. We did see a few slices of pie and they did indeed look exceptional.

pizza

Eventually, we reluctantly departed Mama Renie’s. The Grumpy Old Man was excited to head home but I told him we were not done yet, we needed to back track to check out the other place that looked good on our drive into McArthur. After quelling a minor mutiny we headed to Main Eatery to pick up a beverage only for the long ride back to Columbus. As we approached the building we noticed the 20 something frumps had followed us (henceforth known as the McArthur girls) and they did declare “we are not following you guys….really”. I know better, my guess is that they had spied the two boxes of Family Donut Shoppe donuts in my Subaru and were looking for an opportunity to steal them. So I gallantly insisted that they order first (so I could keep an eye on them and my donuts). After the McArthur girls ordered their shakes and planted themselves on the patio we started chatting up the woman at the ordering window. She went on at length about all Main Eatery has to offer including over 150 types of shakes, house make corned beef, fresh sauces, etc. Very impressive for a small building that just looks like a typical, generic soft serve ice cream stand. At this point the Grumpy Old Man was beyond distraught, thinking I was going to force another meal on him, he started to make a run for the house next door which had a Safe Place logo sign on the door. Since I was full and had a full pizza and box of donuts in my car, all I ordered as a small cole slaw for the road. We bid the McArthur girls adieu (until our next meeting, they did look like stalkers) and headed back to Columbus via SR 93 and 33.

I am happy to report both the pizza from Mama Renie’s and the cole slaw from Main Eatery were really good and made a fine dinner that evening. The Grumpy Old Man survived this adventure as well and still talks about the Family Donut Shop and the McArthur Girls each week.

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100 W Main St, McArthur, OH 45651
(740) 596-3300

Mama Renie's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Ohio, pies, pizza, Road Trip | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Leones Pizza: It’s a Toss Up

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 3, 2016

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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.

Pep

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.

White pizza

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.

Leone's other sign

Leone’s Pizza
5413 Sinclair Road
614-547-7678
leonespizza.com

Leone's Pizza  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in pizza | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Yellow Brick Pizza and the Old Towne East Eating Intersection

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 10, 2016

Welcome to Olde Town

Checking over my list of favorite pizza places, I noticed I had not written about Yellow Brick Pizza. My apologies. Yellow Brick is an Old Towne East Icon part of the Oak Street Boom, which unfortunately has not spread farther out. Opening in 2009, the place quickly established itself as a hot spot with good pizza and a craft beer collection with depth and breadth. The pizza is described as East Coat style with Rhode Island influences since one of the owners worked in a few Rhode Island pizza shops. The dough is hand stretched with a medium thickness to the crust and a signature thick dough ring. For the non-traditional eater in your life, Yellow Brick offers plenty of gluten and vegan friendly options for pizzas including gluten-free crust, vegan cheese and Textured Vegetable Protein sausage. Wondering about Rhode Island Red Sauce? It is featured on a few of the pizza options to give the sauce a bit of heat and kick. The specialty pizzas offer a wide variety of combinations many of which stretch the genre of traditional pizza toppings to great effect.

Yellow Brick Slice

Most pizza places offer a few mundane salads as an afterthought, not the case for Yellow Brick, I have found each of their salads to be exceptional. My favorite salad there and probably my favorite salad in Columbus is described below.

Kale Salad

All of the ingredients in this salad compliment and contrast well with each other providing a mix for flavors, textures and crunchiness. The red peppers in the salad are not just slices that have a bit of marinated flavor as well. Even my bean avoidant wife was happy to gobble down a few bites.

Add in some Arcade Super Awesome upstairs in the evening for extra distraction and Yellow Brick is well worth a planned night out on the town.

Yellow Brick Info

Yellow Brick Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Speaking of town, this block on Oak Street in Old Towne is a mini entertainment district. Starting with the business that started things off – one of my favorite spots Angry Baker

Angry Baker

Old Towne Tavern also offers good food and selection of local and regional craft beers.

Old Town Tavern

And perhaps a new location will mean a bit of a rebirth for Camelot Cellars and an option for non beer drinkers on the block.

Camalot

Posted in beer, Best Pizza in Columbus, pizza, vegan friendly, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Buffet Battle: Pizza

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 27, 2016

pizza buffet

The Buffet Battle Series begins with Pizza. Each buffet listed is available Monday to Friday 11 am to 2 pm or close to it.

Three buffets were tested rigorously and these are the results. Ratings are on a 5 point scale. Since Pizza is the primary food at each spot, it gets an added criteria for this installment of the series.

Ange’s Pizza
Beechwold Center
4511 N High St
614 784-9000

Ange’s has a long history in Columbus dating back to 1953 and it might surprise readers in that there are 8 locations. I’m not sure if all locations offer a buffet or if there are differences in buffets at the different sites. If there are let me know.

The buffet here is fairly barebones – one or two pizzas, a cut up stromboli and a small metal bowl with a salad mix and packets of salad dressing on the side. Staff interaction is minimal. The eating area is small and cafeteria like with minimal seating and devoid of any atmosphere or character. The buffet also includes a beverage via styrofoam cup. The sign says the buffet is $7.49 after tax the total price is $8.03.


Value 3.75
Quality 3.75
Quantity 3.5
Pizza Grade 4
Kid friendly Quotient 2.75


This location is hard to find buried behind a Panera in a strip mall that is hard to enter and exit. This seems to effect the number of people who try the buffet and thus may effect the volume of items offered and subdue any staff excitement about the buffet.

Massey’s Pizza
BEECHCROFT/RT. 161
1951 E. Dublin-Granville Rd.
614 888-0022

Massey’s is also a long time player in Columbus pizza, the original owners were among a small group of early pizza pioneers in Columbus. Massey’s grew into a large empire which collapsed and has been rebuilding in the last decade. I was surprised to see there are eleven local locations as well as one in South Carolina. This is one of the oldest Massey’s locations and is smaller and more austere than most of the new sites.

This buffet included a variety of pizzas, a pasta dish (spaghetti), a mixed salad, a pasta salad, small slices of subs all served via styrofoam plate with a beverage in a styrofoam cup for 7.99. Here you pay first when entering and then eat away. Although the site is busy with carry out orders the staff do make an effort to keep the food stations filled.

The eating area is low on ambiance with several small beat up tables and chairs. It is also noisy from a TV and the acoustics of an old building. My favorite items were the small sections of bite size cut subs, perfectly cooked with great flavor, I went back more often for these than the pizza.


Value 4.25
Quality 4.25
Quantity 4.5
Pizza Grade 4.5
Kid friendly Quotient 2.5


Iacono’s Pizza and Restaurant
4452 Kenny Rd Columbus
614 451-0234

While Massey’s tag line is the Cadillac of pizzas, Iacono’s has earned that moniker for their buffet. Two years ago it was $8.75, until 6 weeks ago it was $9.75 now that we are firmly in 2016 it is now $10.77. That price may scare off some but the value is hard to beat. The buffet features a full salad bar including a variety of house made dressings, cottage cheese, pudding, macaroni salad, potato salad and bacon bits, home made soup, two to three full pizzas which are typically served in half styles so a total of 6 varieties are usually available. The staff often ask what type of pizza you like and typically you will see that as a new selection while you are eating. A dessert pizza (a mix of apples and cinnamon). A beverage is included and staff are aggressive in making sure your cup is not half empty. The space is large with many tables and some half booth / table seating along one wall. There are several high chairs available and if you need to find a place far from the madding crowd, you can find it. The in house music is not overly loud and typically features the best of the 1970’s.


Value 4
Quality 4.75
Quantity 5
Pizza Grade 4.75
Kid friendly Quotient 5


While this buffet is the most expensive, you definitely get what you pay for and for this the whole is as great as the sum of the parts….and the pizza.

And thus ends the first Buffet Battle, Iaconos wins.

(Note: I added another spot to this list August 2016 -> Morone’s

(Note: I did try Verdi. Their buffet is horrible so the only thing to mention about that buffet is don’t waste your time, it is a rip off for 10.21 although billed as $7.75. Thumbs down on value, quality, quantity and pizza grade.)

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Hounddogs Hallowed Delivery Icon(s)

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 18, 2016

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4 cars, 3 rockets and 2 dogs make one Iconic Columbus Car
(The story of Houndogs delivery machine)

Chances are even if you have never tried Hounddogs Pizza, you have wondered about the iconic car that delivers “pizza for the people”. In the beginning, or 1997 in this case, this dog star was born as non-traditional marketing. The inspiration came late one night. Owner Jeff Stewart had a vision of a Hounddog strapped to a rocket that he could mount to a classic car he recently acquired. Stewart started the project the next morning.

The original dog was make by a local artist, Mike Foley. Stewart called CCAD to find a sculptor and was eventually referred to a former student. When asked about his credentials, Foley replied “come over to my house on Indianola to see my work.” Stewart found a house filled with sculptures of all sizes and shapes and knew he found the right person to craft his canine.

The first night out was quite memorable, the rocket was sheared off of the dog when it caught on a low hanging parking garage roof. Since then, things have really taken off for the car and the pizza joint.

There have been three rockets over the years. The second was remounted on the original Hounddog and then attached (in order) to: 1971 Cadillac Coupe de Ville (1997 to 2001), 1988 VW Golf (2002-2003), 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood Broughham Limo (2003 – 2013). After a hiatus, a new dog with a new rocket was mounted on a 1962 Cadillac Fleetwood in the summer of 2015. The “new” car is red like the original with diamondback plate mounted on the roof as a base for a hallowed hounddog creating an unforgettable delivery vehicle.

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Bonus stuff below:

It Takes a Village to Craft a Car

Jeff Stewart is not one to toot his own turn, for anything Hounddogs, he is quick to state all accomplishments are a team effort. His team for the mobile delivery service encompasses twenty years of hands on experience. One of his drivers has over a decade of service under his belt. Andy, at Campus Auto has served has ER and surgeon to keep Hounddogs classic cars clunking along since the original rolled onto his lot nearly a of score years ago.

Quick Facts
The first rocket took 15 hours to fabricate. The second took off in just a few hours.

Stewart had a basset hound in college, which was part of the inspiration for the logo and car art, but because of the long hours he put in for the pizza shop, he had to give him up to a friend.

All cars except the Golf have been called into service to run family and friends to the airport, creating a memorable start to many vacations.

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Slice of Clintonville: A Serving of Community

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 5, 2015

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Tonight I served as a judge for the second annual Slice of Clintonville, an evening of all you can eat pizzas from the greater Clintonville area. This was the first year for judging so my honorable colleagues and I had the daunting task of tasting and evaluating three to seven types of pizza from each of the following: Ange’s, Bella Pizza, Donatos, Hounddogs, Lucky’s, Mama Mimi’s, Mikey’s Late Night Slice, Pizza House, Sbarro (open 4 days just down the street), Smiths Deli, Villa Nova and Z Pizza. If you are now full from reading that imagine how I feel right now.

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We opted to try to tame that overwhelming variety by getting creative with our criteria. We tasted the standard Pepperoni pie from each place then compared our top three choices among the three judges to determine best in show. Then each of us picked our favorite specialty pizza for an honorable mention. The end result: Pizza House was our winner. Late Night Slice, Hounddogs and Mana Mimi’s got Honorable Mention and Villa Nova received the diversity award for their Taco Pizza. The People’s Choice award went to Mama Mimi’s. It was a good showing by all.

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There are many events in Columbus – typically too many to choose from. Some are too big, some are too small, a few too frequent and a very small number are just right. This is a true community event, at least for me. I was able to judge with Nick from Breakfast with Nick and spend some time with his family. I was able to sample pizza and catch up with friends from Late Night Slice and Hounddogs that I work with on the Pitchers and Pizza Tour and see other that I have known for years serve pizza from their shops and see neighbors I have known, in some cases all my life, enjoy the fruits for these local pizza slingers. And finally a few Clintonville charities were able to show off what they do. It is hard to create an event that truly represents the community but Slice of Clintonville is just that a slice of what the community has to offer. See you next year.

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