Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pizza #30 Donatos

Sunday Addie and Reagan were with us for dinner and we were in a hurry to eat so we went to the very closest pizza place to our home - Donatos.  Donatos is a chain all around Columbus and there is one on Tamarack circle that we have been to a lot over the years.

This restaurant is big and has a lot of tables in it but does not have a wait staff.  Instead you order your pizza at the counter.  We ordered a large cheese pizza, an order of Asiago bread and fountain drinks all around.

As we sat down I notices that it had been upgraded since I had been there last.  There was lots of seating in comfortable booths.  I asked the girls to describe it to me and they said: "fake plants, kind of cold, smells like disinfectant, brick walls, many windows, cameras pointed on the customers, and lights are weird."

Actually the lights were interesting and I liked them - the shades were all collanders and it was very creative.

There is a room beside the dining area that we had often used to have meetings in for church.  There were people there who had children who were literally running and screaming around the restaurant.  We were the only people eating so it was a little disturbing.  Reagan and Addie amused themselves with taking selfies:

I was very disappointed with the service - such as it was.  The pizza came in the pizza box at least 5 minutes before the bread.  She handed us paper plates.  We had to go to the counter to get plastic forks and knives. (yes - I eat the first hot bites of pizza usually with a fork and knife!)

The pizza itself was good but a little greasy.  After all the pizzas I have been trying this year, I found that Donatos was not as good as I remembered - or maybe my taste is becoming more "elevated."  None of us like the bread very much - there was a funny flavor to the cheese.

So, the best part of Donatos for us now is that it is close to home. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pizza # 29 Cucinova

Today Chuck suggested that we try a pizza place that he had been to before and that he had a coupon for.  So with a Prestige Dining Club Card in hand we drove to Sumeno's Italian Restaurant on Sawmill.  And found out that it is no more!  Apparently Chuck liked it - but not everyone else.
So I suggested we just drive north on Sawmill and look for the next pizza place and sure enough we found Cucinova.

When I entered the restaurant I was disappointed to find that it was like a "cafeteria" or like Chipotles.  There is no wait staff - you go through a line and design your own.  The sign on the wall said: "made from scratch and your creativity."  But we were here and hungry and gave it a try.

The problem with me is that I always get anxious because I don't know what to order.  I followed a young woman and paid attention to what she was doing and so I ordered a very particular pizza - the sauce was a combination of basil pesto and garlic.  I had two kinds of cheese - fresh mozzarella and fontina, and carmelized onion.  We ordered a 10 inch pizza and split it and it was more than enough.  We also ordered a salad to split and put in mushrooms, peppers, olives, croutons, cucumbers, and more.  They also had "craft beer" so I ordered a flat tire and Chuck got a coke.

We went to sit in a booth and then they called my name.  And it was delicious - a really great pizza!
It was - of course - hot and fresh and really flavorful.  I think it was the pesto sauce that gave it that special something.

 We sat in a booth and were very comfortable.  However, the restaurant itself is "industrial" with pretty uncomfortable looking chairs. 

This is a chain and I would recommend it - especially for people who want to do it their way.!

Pizza #28 Carrabbas

Carrabbas is not a new restaurant for me.  I first went to it when we lived in Bowling Green and have been to the restaurant here in Polaris several times.  I had lunch with Trixie and she was game to try another pizza with me for this blog.

Even though I have been here, I had never ordered pizza.  And I was very very happy to find that they really have a great one!  In fact, this restaurant has everything I like in a pizza outing.

We met at noon which is often a busy time but it was quiet and very comfortable.  The restaurant has brick walls, carpeted floor, large booths, an open kitchen and a very comfortable vibe. .  There was music in the background and it was from the "Great American Songbook."   All of this is what makes ME happy.
I ordered a bud light and we split a pizza that was half cheese and half sausage  and each had a salad.  I was really happy with both the salad and the beer. 
Just looking at these pictures you can see the excellent  presentation of the  bread, the oil, the beer and the fresh, colorful mixed salad.  All of it was delicious and prepared and served well.

And the pizza was delicious.  It is a wood fired pizza with a hand done crust.  It was tomatoey  the sauce was flavorful and the cheese was rich and tasty.  I really liked this pizza!  And I liked the cheese more than the sausage.

I am over half way through my 50 pizzas and I have learned along the way that the whole of the dining experience matters to me - as well as the pizza itself.  Carabbas really was a great meal for me - quiet, comfortable, excellent salad, bread, beer and pizza.  I recommend.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Pizza #27 Rubino's

Fred and Gail Taschner recommended this pizza place to me because they had read that it was supposed to be really excellent pizza.  It was a first time for all of us trying it.

Rubin's is a beloved Bexley institution known for its thin crust, cheap prices and cash only policy. 
It has its own fame as the writer Bob Green referenced it in his memoir Be True to Your School. 

We found it to be unique in several ways.  The first being - of course - that it was cash only and I was happy Gail gave me the heads up on that.  Second, the prices were very reasonable.  It is a long time since I paid 75 cents for a pop at a restaurant.  We also like the family ambiance with a Ms Pac man on the floor as well as a F-14 tomcat.   I got a kick out of the way Fred's water was served:

 I ordered  a salad which was mostly iceberg lettuce and  cheese pizza and Chuck ordered spaghetti.  Fred ordered pepperoni pizza and Gail ordered spaghetti.  It came quickly and all was delicious.  The pizza had a thin crust  with a great flavor.  It was not overly sauced and had good quality cheese on it.  I ate every bite. Everyone else enjoyed their meals.

There was only one problem with Rubino's for us.  It is a small restaurant and a family place.  It is noisy and when we were there a toddler with an ear piercing scream made our trip less than perfect.

In all, it is good pizza and a very good value.

.  But alas - no beer served and no credit cards allowed.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pizza #26 Hounddog's 3 Degree Pizza

Chuck and I went with Kerry Baker to a pizza place that was new to us and familiar to her - Hounddogs 3 Degree Pizza which is located on north high street.

There is so MUCH I like about this place!  First of all there is parking behind the restaurant.  It was confusing because much of it said "reserved" but the waitress assured us that we could park there.
Second, the ambiance is pretty interesting.  They have wood floor and shiny wood tables that are all very different. They had brick walls, loud music and interesting art and decor. 
And the big surprise was that they have a happy hour that extends to 9 PM where beer is $1.50! Pretty great, I would say.  And. on reflection, I cannot even comment on the quality of the service because when the beer is $1.50 you don't really care.   Kerry and I ordered "Lasagna Bites" for an appetizer mainly because we had never heard of them before and wanted to try they out.  They were delicious and it was exactly what they said - lasagna deep fried into a spicy mouthful!
The pizza was very good.  We ordered a pizza that was half cheese and half with bacon, olives and mushrooms.  We chose the "Smokin' Joes" crust that was hand tossed with special garlic butter and their mildly sweet tomato and basil sauce.  It was delicious.  Often when we go out, I feel like my companions pizza is better than the plain cheese.  But the cheese pizza was sweet, cheesy, flavorful and just crunch enough in the crust.  Kerry liked it too!

So, this restaurant for me was a real find!  I absolutely recommend it and will be going back again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pizza #25 Brio

I am aware that most of the time we do not think of Brio as a pizza place.  But it is an Italian restaurant and surely they would have pizza.  That was the thinking that brought me to lunch with Trixie at Brio at Polaris.

There are two Brio restaurants in Columbus that I go to - at Polaris and at Easton.  My favorite is to go to Easton on a spring or summer day and eat outside and watch the kids in the fountains.  But Polaris has the advantage of being in a mall, so that I will have an opportunity to buy something along the way to eat.  As I did this time....but that is not the point, is it?

The restaurant  itself is nicely appointed. .  It has both carpet and wood floors and outdoor dining as well (it was hot the day we came). I like the pillars in the restaurant and the plants and what we decided to call the "Tuscany Gold Walls."  It is kind of noisy but but there is sort of a festive air to dining here.

It turned out that they did NOT have Pizza Pie - but they do have pizza flat bread.  I ordered that with a insalata (chopped salad) which was a lunch special.  I ordered the Margherita flatbread with fresh mozzarella, vine ripened tomatoes and basil and Trixie got the sausage, pepperoni and ricotta flatbread.

The good news about the salads was that they were 130 calories - the bad news is that they were bland and mostly iceberg lettuce.

The pizza was good  and cheesy and you could taste the basil flavor.  The flat bread was like eating it on a cracker.

Our biggest disappointment was the service which was slow as we found ourselves waiting for coffee and a box (Trixie could not finish her meal.)

So, my pizza and salad and service rating is kind of low for this experience.  But I have been here many other times and had wonderful meals.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pizza #24 Happy Pizza

Chuck and I decided to go to a pizza place last night and just started driving around and found Happy Pizza on the corner of Karl and 161.  We have noticed it before and gotten coupons in the mail, but this blog gave us the opportunity to check it out.

I knew I like the name and when we came in I liked the logo:  Eat Happy's Be Happy!.
When I saw the booths I thought we would be served by a waitress but unfortunately it was a restaurant where you order at the counter.  While it is called "Happy PIZZA" they make it clear that they offer far more than pizza. like ribs, chicken and fries.
They had a whole lot of specialty pizzas but I ordered the 10 inch cheese pizza for $5.99.  Chuck got a half pound of wings for the same price.  He was delighted to find that price included fries.
What was disappointing was not the food, but the service.  We received our order as a take out.
And never got plates and had to get napkins and very cheap plastic forks and knives at the counter.
Chuck asked for salt and someone scrounged up some packets for him.  The disappointment was because the pizza and the wings and the fries were good - especially the pizza.  The crust was thin enough and not like a cracker.  The cheese was gooey and flavorful and rich.  I could not finish.and Chuck brought half of his meal home too. 
So, the price was right and the food was good.  The location of this restaurant is also convenient for us and we like the booths.  It is too bad their service was lacking.  We will definitely do take out here.

In summary, Happy's pizza made me happier than the dining experience itself.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Pizza #23 Harvest Pizza

      Kim Veatch suggested that we try Harvest Pizza which was a new pizza place for both of us. We met for lunch and quickly decided to eat outside.

  I had noticed when I looked online for the best pizza places in Columbus Harvest Pizza was ALWAYS in the top three - so I was certainly aware of it. When I read about it online I have learned that they are famous for using local and organic ingredients. They use  cheeses, flour, and veggies from local farmers and have  artisan pizzas, made with fresh-tossed, cold-fermented dough that is cooked in a wood-fired oven.  And craft beers.

So, the menu had many more unusual offerings and did not have the standard "cheese pizza." Before I get to that there were the beers to select - they were out of the "Land Grant Glory" and instead I got this "Rheingeist Hustle" and it was great..
We decided to split the "Mean Green Salad" - it had Kale, pine nuts, avaocado and a delicious dressing.  It was different and  flavorful.
Then we split a 12 inch pizza and designed out own.  Half was the "cheese pizza" with a combination gouda/havarti and the other half had chicken, mushroom and we had garlic over all.  The sauce we selected was almond pesto.
It was fabulous.  Kim remarked how she could taste all the different flavors.  It was "mouth bursting" savory and just the most interesting and tasty pizza I have ever had. Period the end.

In some ways, it is impossible to compare Harvest Pizza to any other one.  It is unique, upscale and truly "artisan."  It is also far and away the most expensive pizza experience I have had to date - with tip included this lunch for the two of us was about $45. There are two Harvest Pizzerias in Columbus - in Clintonville (where we ate) and in German Village.  Every aspect of our meal  - the beer, the salad and the pizza - was distinctive and I would totally recommend it for a special outing.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pizza # 22 BJs

Audrey and I went out to lunch with Maggie and Audrey suggested B'J's Brewhouse as a great pizza place.  Now I know BJs and have eaten there often and NEVER thought of having pizza there and Audrey loves their pizza in Tuscon - so we gave it a try.
 BJ's is a sports bar that is really contemporary and polished.  There are lots of TV's, art work like the mural on the outside, tables and booths and hard wood floors.

This was my first time going to a restaurant with Maggie without her parents so I had a new appreciation for wait staff when you come with a toddler.  And BJ's did a great job. They found us a high chair for her and quickly gave her a children's menu and crayons.  We texted Marnie to find out what she would like to eat and she said chicken tenders and then Audrey ordered Mac and Cheese. She liked that too.  What impressed me is that the waitress knew to put Maggie's in first.  Kudos!
We just made it through the meal before she got fussy (and then slept in the car on the way back)
I got a special beer which I can't remember the name of - (there is a theme here!) - that was wheat beer and delicious.  Audrey found out there was a special on the IPA and got that.  we both like our beer.  We ordered the lunch special - BJ's one topping mini pizza with a salad.  Audrey got Caesar Salad and I got a wedge and we were both pleased.

She got a pepperoni salad and I got cheese.  It was good - very cheesy with a thick crust that was almost buttery. It was a little salty.  Audrey also like hers but she said the pizza was better in Tuscon.
AND in Tuscon you can get reduced rates on movies at the BJ's restaurants.  Not here.

We were very pleased with this trip.  I thought the pizza was very good and would order it again.  So, now, when I think pizza I might come up with BJ's Brewhouse.

Pizza # 21 Tommy's

 Fred and Gail Taschner recommended that we try Tommy's restaurant and so we did.  I vaguely remembered this pizza from when I lived in upper Arlington in the early 80's.  And so it was probably not my first time eating this pizza - but my memory is pretty dim at this point!

Tommy's pizza is the 2nd oldest pizza restaurant in Columbus.  I know this because I looked on their website which includes their history and FAQ.  I thought that  having Frequently Asked Questions was pretty unusual for a pizza restaurant.  Anyway, my research informed me that there are three Tommys in Columbus - the first one was started on 5th Avenue near Cassidy in 1952.  We went to the second restaurant in Lane Avenue that was opened in 1963.  What was noteworthy when first arriving was that the only picture on the walls was the founder - Tommy Iocona.  Fred and Gail have memories of eating here at the same time as Woody Hayes - so it is old and carries lots of history of Columbus, I am sure.

The look of the building and the sign greatly represent the 60's.. It has formica tables,  green carpet (is it the original?) and spindles on the dividers between booths that I have in my 1969 era home. If it wasn't historically significant I would call the decor bland.

Anyway, we ordered our requisite beer and pizza. And a salad.  I got a cheese pizza of course and Gail and Fred's had something on it - but i can't remember but theirs was good.  Not as good as the last time they came - but good.
My pizza was also good.  It has an adequate amount of cheese and sort of a smokey taste. It has a more tomatoey sauce that Fred described as "piquant" in flavor.  Tommy's crust is thin and almost like a cracker.  At some point whether you like this is all about personal preference.

And my preference is - that it was good - but not great.  I would have like more cheesy flavor and less tomato. And I was not crazy about the crust. But that is just me.

I would definitely recommend Tommy's as a place to go to that takes you back in time - to the ambiance of the 60's and all that we remember of those years!.