Monday, July 12, 2010

Dewey's and the Plague of LaRosa's

When I published my list of the 20 Best Pizzas in Cincinnati this past April, I named Dewey's the best pizza in Cincinnati. So, I think I'm overdue to give the place a full review. Given Dewey's role in Cincinnati, this also gives me an opportunity to rant a little about Cincinnati pizza.

Cincinnati has some good history and some regrettable history with pizza. It can earnestly be said that LaRosa's and Donato's are just a step up from microwave pizza. Really, LaRosa's tasteless pizza represents everything that is wrong with the Cincinnati pizza scene. While those two are an embarrassment for the area, they have sadly dominated the local pizza for a long-time (Fortunately, I grew up eating mostly Trotta's pizza). There's tons of great pizza in Cincinnati if you're willing to try around. Sadly, LaRosa's is a 60 location plague on Cincinnati, stiffling other good restaurants. Thankfully, Dewey's came into existence in the late 1990s and has done much to redeem the city.

Dewey's was founded by Andrew DeWitt (son of St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt, and grandson of Red's GM/Owner Bill DeWitt Sr). The original Dewey's opened in Oakley in 1998. There are now nine locations in Cincinnati, with a few more in Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, and St. Louis. DeWitt says his vision was "to create a neighborhood spot with great micro beers on tap, great pizza and salads, and a group of cool, genuine, like minded people making the food and providing authentic hospitality to our patrons. Of course, great music was absolutely mandatory." He went to college for guitar and the music has always been good in my experience. Wilco, Arcade Fire, and the Decemberists are common (I give them huge credit for this). Also, the restaurants are nicely laid out with a modern look and a rather open feel to them.

Following through on their mission statement, Dewey's has a nice lineup of beers on tap and the pizzas are quite good (as I will get to). Also, as much as I hate to admit it, I really enjoy their salads. Their Caesar is good, but the Greek salad is excellent (loaded with kalamata olives, garlic cloves, tomatoes, feta cheese, and a very good roasted red pepper vinaigrette dressing):
It has a great taste, but on to the important stuff: pizza. The first thing you might notice when walking into a Dewey's is that they toss the dough out front behind a window to the kitchen - This is generally a good sign. As I've been hammering home lately, I think the key to great pizza is the crust. At Dewey's, the crust tends to be a little doughy. It's also generally lightly cooked, definitely not burnt. A large pizza is cut into 8 slices, and even though it's narrow and the crust soft, they don't fall apart. The crust is always made fresh and the taste really is excellent.

First, Socrates' Revenge (Olive Oil, Minced Garlic, Mozzarella-Fontina Blend, Spinach, Black & Green Olives, Feta Cheese, & Tomatoes):

Caprice (Olive Oil, Minced Garlic, Mozzarella-Fontina Blend, Basil, & Roma Tomatoes):

And the classic Half Pepperoni & Goat Cheese / Half Bacon (I realize this blog is exposing some of my eatings trends...):
If I was just judging straight pepperoni pizza, I would still probably call Dewey's the best pizza in Cincinnati. However, I give Dewey's a ton more credit for the quality and variety of their ingredients. They are fresh and always have a great taste (No Larosa's tasteless sausage-ish mush here). You always get a good amount of everything also. As a result, both the pepperoni and the more artisan pizzas are great. Furthermore, Dewey's uses all mozzarella cheese on their pizza (again, a good sign. ...LaRosa's uses mostly provolone). The sauce is a little spicy, but it doesn't overwhelm the pizza. The pizza is a bit heavier in crust than typical, but always has strong tasting ingredients. Overall, every pizza I've ordered off the menu seems to "work" - It's just always been great pizza.

Your hear a lot of New York supremacist talk about pizza. And, on average the quality of the pizza places there is the highest of any city where I've spent significant time. However, I've never been to a better pizzeria than Dewey's. I hate to give such a positive review, but they deserve it. Dewey's pizza really is excellent in every way.

Dewey's Pizza (Clifton/Avondale) on Urbanspoon   Larosa's on Urbanspoon
Dewey's Pizza on Urbanspoon
Dewey's Pizza on Urbanspoon
Dewey's Pizza (Newport) on Urbanspoon
Dewey's Pizza on Urbanspoon
Dewey's Pizza (Loveland) on Urbanspoon


  1. I agree totally about LaRosas. That stuff is trash.

  2. I just stumbled on this thanks to City Kin. You cannot hammer LaRosa's hard enough to suit me, but it would not exist without its pizza eating enablers. Instead of Juncta Juvant, the city's crest should say "Too Spicy".

  3. Dewey's kicks butt. Try Angilo's. You will develop a new appreciation for La Rosa's.

  4. Radarman, I completely agree. One of my quixotic missions for this goofy blog it to create a good local pizza guide. I think if people have better information, they'll stop going to LaRosa's and will support better restaurants, which in the long-run will improve dining options for all us Cincinnatians.

  5. While I appreciate your attempt to send people to a "better" pizza place, Larosa's exists as a fast and easy way for a family to get a cheaper pizza quickly and at a good price. Dewey's may have the better quality pizza but try getting it delivered to your home or made in less than thirty minutes! I understand that their flavors are better than Larosa's but if you are looking for a quick pizza to feed your family and at a location right around the corner than guess what Dewey's ain't gonna cut it. you have confused what Larosa's has become to what Dewey's is now! Check back when Dewey's opens 70 locations and see if their quality has slipped some uh Duh! of course it will! Think before you blog! You can tell us how good Dewey's is without bashing anyone.


  6. I stand by the review. Larosa's isn't very good & someone who's looking for good Cincinnati shouldn't go there. Conversely, if someone is looking for convenient cheap pizza, they'd be much better off going to Marco's or Papa John's.

  7. I stand by the review. Larosa's isn't very good & someone who's looking for good Cincinnati shouldn't go there. Conversely, if someone is looking for convenient cheap pizza, they'd be much better off going to Marco's or Papa John's.


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