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Posts Tagged ‘Nerd Night Clintonville Pizza Challenge’

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

Posted by CMH Gourmand on April 9, 2012

Redemption. Hallelujah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Clintonville, pizza | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Clintonville Pizza Challenge: The Battle of Graceland – Z Pizza vs. Belleria

Posted by CMH Gourmand on March 20, 2012

The first pizza pair off occurred this past Nerd Night Monday at an undisclosed location in Clintonville. The Battle of Graceland pitted Z Pizza vs. Belleria Pizza.

An additional disclaimer for this series. There was a brief attempt at rational and objective judging criteria using the Kansas City BBQ Society judging guidelines as a basis for the taste off. This was a clear failure within ten seconds of suggesting this sane method of evaluation.

As my gal pal Andrea would say “what evs”.

More back story. Belleria has sixteen locations in Northeast Ohio and two franchises in Columbus – thus the prime directive of no chains is compromised. Belleria started in Youngstown in the 1950’s. Why did this place make the cut? They are still unique to Columbus and Clintonville. They deliver to the undisclosed location.

Z Pizza has locations in sixteen states, Washington DC, the Middle East, Mexico and Vietnam. Really. Z pizza is unique in central Ohio with one Clintonville location and one in the Short North. They deliver to the undisclosed location.

I can’t say the battle was hard-fought. We are so used to the value and massive bulk of Adriaticos that getting less pizza for more money was a moral and morale shock. One individual led the discussion with “I hate Z Pizza, it made me sick years ago, so it already lost.” This is the type of thing a food sociologist and enthusiast such as I must deal with. Grrrrrr.

What happened. After some trial and error and a lot of whining about having to wait to watch TV because I was still collecting data, I decided to settle the matter using a McLaughlin Report style aggressive questioning technique of the pros and cons of each pizza with each nerd. After everyone said their peace about the pieces, each person was allowed an opportunity to vote.

Belleria Notes:

“Taste Like Home”
“like the greasy thing going on”
“The best of the cheapest ingredients”
“more fart inducing” (really….this is the caliber of test subjects I am working with here).
“good spicing on the sauce”
“don’t like the spicing on the sauce”
“French Fry Pizza Rocks (also universal)
“like the cakey crust”
“has godfather / Mob qualities”
“hearty, filling – winner by weight for the price”
“reminds me of a Northeast Ohio Mom and Pop Pizza Pie Restaurant”
“spongy lusiciousness”
“tough biscuit quality – chewy, pieogiesque crust”
“the Ohio University of pizza” – under the radar and plucky

Z Pizza Notes:

“hits the flavors that the kids (hipsters) like”
“good crispness, good sear/char and crunch on crust”
“best combination and blend of flavors”
“good Tomato Taste”
“good crust (this was near universal)
“pretentious pizza”
“not memorable”

Having gathered the feedback above with tooth pulling precision I opted to do a vote.

The champion was Belleria with seven votes. Z Pizza received one.

Much like the Henry Fonda character in Twelve Angry Men, I had to respect the observations of the lone dissenter. It is difficult to compare the two pizzas because their styles are very different. Each had strong points and weak points. We thought both were over priced. Other than our resident contrarian who voted against Z Pizza years before, we all found merit in the Z Pizza crust. The French Fry pizza from Belleria is quite superior and deserves a special nod.

Next week: The Battle of Sinclair – Pizza House vs. Pizza Mart

Hoping for a bracket by next week (Hint: Roland).

Posted in Clintonville, culinary knowledge, pizza | Tagged: | 4 Comments »