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Posts Tagged ‘Bono Pizza’

Bono Pizza (or Jake 2.0)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 8, 2017

Bono Pizza

(Update: This Bono location is slated to close January 31st 2018 – but the owners are looking for a new location and may run a mobile operation while in limbo).

Bono Pizza has a long, storied history of being found in the most unlikely of places. At the current (Jake 2.0) location, the tradition of improbable places continues. Today’s Bono is hidden in an apartment complex right next to another pizza place (Cowtown Pizza) and a bar. To better understand why this is not unusual new readers will need to go way back in time.

In 2008, I outlined some of the history of Bono and it’s first owner / visionary, Bill Yerkes. Bill is known for many things – some of which I should not put into print but it is indisputable that he is a pizza Picasso. He spent many years in Italy and used that time to perfect the art and craft of making pizza. After a return to central Ohio, he eventually set up near Delaware and developed a strong following. Then he made his way to the Short North where a cult-like following boosted Bono to new heights. After a long hiatus including a creative approach to crowdfunding called Bono Bucks, Bono 3.0 started in part of a convenience store in the Grandview / 5XNW area. This is where current owner Jake Wilch came on board as an apprentice of sorts. Towards the end of the lifespan of Bono 3.0 Jake was the full time owner and Bill faded into the sunset so to say. Mirroring his mentor, there was a bit of a hiatus between Bono 3.0 and 4.0. When the current location launched there were some fears it would sink, but Jake persevered and pizzaed on. Thank goodness.

It is hard to describe the Bono experience to non visitors. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. Bohemian does not fully reflect the spirit of the place but a new term I thought of comes close: Bono-hemian: “having informal and unconventional social habits” but formal training and intense passion in the art of pizza production.

Bono location

Bono features several tables, a giant Pac-man / Galaga combo sit down video game, quick access to the bar next door and other amenities like comic books to keep one occupied. The wood fired pizza oven is located near the rear door out of sight of customers. Jake did not miss a step at Bono (4.0). The pizzas and salads are as good as I remember them from Bonos past and as close to pizzas that I consumed in Naples and other parts of Italy (side note: Naples is a pit) in the past with a few upgrades. The focus on a quality dough and (pizza) peeling a nice bit of char in the bottom crust at Bono is great however the real game changer is Jake does not skimp on the quality of ingredients. Each item showcases the finest quality meats, cheeses and vegetables Jake can source. There are few meals where I savor every morsel of every bite as much as I do at Bono.

Here are a few examples to whet your appetite.

I never met a salad I did not want a second serving of at Bono. Ingredients are always fresh and complement each other. There are never too many items or too few flavors mixed together, they are always the right combination or everything

At one time or another I have sampled every Bono concoction. I’m fairly certain that one evening at the Short North location, I consumed one of every pizza on the menu with the dedicated help of the namesake of the San Rolando Bono pizza. I will take a moment to list out the toppings of a few of my favorites. The previously mentioned San Rolando is one of the simplest of pizzas at Bono: fresh tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage and mozzarella. The Greek Boy features tomato sauce, mozzarella, feta, kalamata olives, spinach and a bit of oregano. Those are just two of the twenty combinations on the menu. Like the secret menu at Chipotle, insiders have special combinations of different pizza types (two or three of the styles fused together in both ingredients and name) that Jake will honor…if you get the “secret” name right.

For the full Bono experience, one must dine in. First, you need a rest after making all of the effort to find the place. Second, you need to soak in the ambiance to fully comprehend what I mean by Bono-hemian, Finally, Bono is often ordered to go, but I find it is never quite as satisfying when it has a chance to cool and an opportunity for some of the smoke and char from the oven to dissipate during the trip by car from Bono to back to your point of origin.

Bono Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in CLOSED, pizza | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Bono Bounces Back

Posted by CMH Gourmand on January 13, 2010

The summer of 2008 was THE season for Bono Pizza in the Short North. The unconventional ways of pizza purist Bill Yerkes meshed a traditional approach to pizza (well kind of) with many non traditional elements such as a unique partnership with a Short North Bakery in a location along an alley. The enterprise should not have worked. It did. In fact it prospered. It was the darling of Short North and Victorian Village residents and an unofficial meeting point for Columbus Underground ilk. However, like any burning sun, it was bound to extinguish and it did in the fall of 2008. (To learn more about this era see my December 2008 post and Foodcast episode 18 from August 2008.)

CU – Bono Bounces Back

There were attempts at rebirth. Bill came full circle with a location near his home at a site vacated by Cowtown Pizza. Showing his very unconventional side and some significant out of the box thinking, Bill utilized Columbus Underground as a means to raise some fast cash to get his operation going. (See below and below that)

CU – Taking “stock” in Bono

Always the non-traditionalist, Bill has put together a proposal for his loyal customers to help raise the extra cash quickly. He calls it the “bonoPIZZA Pay it Forward Plan. Effective immediately, bonoPIZZA will begin selling half-price gift certificates in $100 and $200 increments. The $100 gift certificate will cost $50, and the $200 gift certificate will cost $100, making it a great deal for anyone planning on dining at bono in the future. The goal is to sell approximately 75 of these certificates to cover the cost of raising the additional $5,000.

The equitable effort was successful but the site fell through. As a result, most of 2009 was a year without a Bono clause so the natives started to get a little restless. I was one of the people that invested (or donated depending on your perspective) money depending on how you look at it. The outcome was a new location even closer to Bill’s abode. Bill has the best commute to work in the local restaurant trade. Bono bounced back so I now have $200 worth of pizza in the form of twenty buy one get one free pizzas.

The new Bono Pizza is located in a carryout on Northwest Blvd in Grandview. It features a wood fired oven and the always entertaining personality and styling of Bill Yerkes. His wife Peggy is there most evenings to take orders and take care of her customers. I was technically the first paying customer and somewhere in the establishment there is a signed first dollar bill from me. Bono is still experimenting with hours (we could see an lunch option in 2010), the menu – a constant blank slate for Bill and other dishes (maybe a salad, maybe a pepperoni roll) and who knows what else. Bono also offers crepes for $3, espresso for $1 and more often than not creme brulee in shot style glasses. Beverages can be obtained in the adjoining carry out.

il gato - an mexican style pizza under development, served with a side of guacamole. This may be added to the regular rotation

The new site is not without challenges. There have been issues with the roof and the space itself calls for some creativity for business hours after the carry out closes. The walkability and charm of the old site are not the same but the “hidden clubhouse” feeling continues on in this incantation of Bono.

A Greek Boy.....

The new Bono features eighteen specialty pizzas as well as a build your own option. All pizzas are $10 each. Bill perfected his pizza craft for twenty five years in Italy. His crusts and ratios are in the Italian style with all flavors balancing each other. His non traditional half or in his case 3/4 self, exhibits itself in the toppings and names (Hulk, Waikiki, The Greek Boy….) Here are a few examples of the pizzas:

San Rolando
Fresh tomato sauce, pepperoni, (real – really good too) Italian Sausage and fresh Mozzarella cheese.
This pizza is named in honor of Roland Kopecky, the best Bono customer of 2008 and future Pierogi King of Columbus.

Smithfield peppered ham/bacon, carmelized for three plus hours with onions then lathered on a layer of Asiago and real mozzarella cheese with a sprinkling of Parmesan and “pixie dust” (that came right off the menu not my keyboard, but at Bono….it could happen).
This pizza was created and inspired in part by the Grumpy Gourmet who has made an appearance or two at this establishment.

Most of a San Rolando...prior to delivery to Roland

Bono ToGo Pizza
1717 Northwest Blvd
as the menu says: “of course it’s in the back of a liquor store, it’s bonopizza!”

Open: Monday to Saturday 5 PM to 10 PM

Posted in pizza, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Bedtime for Bono

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 11, 2008

No Pizza for You

Bono Togo Pizza in the Short North closed quietly in November. The good news is 2009 may see Bono bounce back in Grandview at the corner of Northwest and Chambers.

Bono Togo was tucked away on Russell street in the core of the Short North. The daytime location of Eleni Christina Bakery (among my favorite breads in town) became Bono Pizza at night.


Bill and Peggy Yerkes with some helpers crafted artisan pizzas inspired by Bill’s decades of perfecting his prized pies. In between pushing pizzas in and pulling them out of the oven, Bill would provide lots of commentary to his guests. Peggy treated all of us like family. And if that was not enough, there were crepes, very, very, very good crepes.


Bono sign

The Summer of Bono created some great memories and locked in some fine friendships as late nights outside of Bono flowed into fall (Bear, Colleen, Hungry Woolf, Roland, Drew). It also led to the creation of the “Colleen” Pizza – 15b on some menus. Any food item can be Colleened by adding a fried egg.

Here is some insight into the magic.

The Columbus Underground Bono Post

Hungry Woolf wolfs down Bono

Walker, Anne and Desmond (future mayor of Columbus) go to Bono

Columbus Foodcast interviews Bill and gets the backstory on the Colleen pizza

15B - The Colleen

White Castle and Bono – The Roland Pizza

Yelp on Bono

The End of Bono

In the meantime, Bill has a mobile woodfired pizza oven he created himself. He graciously brought it to the Columbus Underground 7th Anniversary party at Wildgoose Creative. We ate pizzas all night which helped out a bit since the night before we were told about the coming demise of Bono.

The Oven

Fire in the oven

pizza in the oven

Dispatch article on Bill’s Oven

For now, while waiting for the new Bono to open, maybe we will see the mobile oven pop up somewhere. I volunteer my driveway anytime.

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