Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Best Pizzerias in Cincinnati (Updated)

In April 2010, I published a list of the twenty best pizzerias in Cincinnati. Since then, there have been some important openings, some changes to existing pizzerias, and I have ventured a little further out into the suburbs in search of hidden gems. There has also been some incomplete pizza info bouncing around from a prominent local publication... So 18 months later, here are updated and improved rankings. I expanded the list to thirty (with ten additional honorable mentions) since there were simply too many pizzerias I thought deserved inclusion. Cincinnati is surprisingly chock full of great pizzerias. You can find any style well represented (except maybe New Haven-style), you just have to know where to look. As of November 2011, these are the best pizzas in Cincinnati:

1. A Tavola - With an oven made out of Mt. Vesuvius, A Tavola has some of the best pizza I have ever had. The key to great pizza is great crust, and the wood-fired oven produces outstanding tasty, thin, and lightly-charred crust. The pizzas come quickly (cooked for 90 seconds at 1,000 degrees) and are well constructed and full of flavor. Try the house-made sausage - it's a ten. Over the Rhine
 A Tavola on Urbanspoon

2. Dewey's Pizza - It's a small chain, but Dewey's is excellent in all aspects. They use a good blend of cheeses and abundant toppings with a strong taste. The key though is the quality of their hand-tossed crust. It's a thicker and a bit doughy, but quite tastey. They have a wide variety of pizzas all of which are high quality. Indeed, both their goat cheese (Edgar Allen Poe) and straight pepperoni pizzas are excellent. Dewey's Pizza is a tradition Cincinnati can be proud of.

3. Mac's Pizza Pub - This is a UC bar, but it definitely has the best pizza of any college bar that I've visited. The delicious spicy sauce they use stands out to me. All pizzas are made with medium hand-tossed crust. Also, they use a wide variety of fresh (some organic) toppings with good taste. Overall, Mac's makes some of the best pizza in Cincinnati with good prices and quick service. Clifton

4. Pomodori's Pizzeria - Features wood-fired oven and traditional pizza, both of which are excellent. I like the charred wood-fired crust, but the traditional is quite good also. Also, they have a wide variety of ingredients, which are all fresh. At the relative prices, the traditional pizza is a better deal, but both are worth trying. Clifton

5. Newport Pizza Company - NPC serves excellent thin crust pizzas. The artisan pizzas here are very good, but the straight Perfect Pepperoni is the best in my opinion. Their thin, non-charred, crust just has an excellent fresh taste. The pepperoni pizza tends to come out hot and greasy making it slightly messy (as you can see below). Also, there's a nice selection of full flavored appetizers and good beer. Newport


6. Via Vite - This is a upscale Italian restaurant rather than a pizza place, but has some of the best artisan pizzas in Cincinnati. The crust is wood-fired and tasty, with a bit of char. They're personal size and you can tell the Pietosos allow only very high quality materials. It's great pizza and this is simply the place to be seen eating pizza with the who's who of Cincinnati. Downtown


7. Jean Paul's Paridiso - Jean Paul's is a surprising name for a great pizzeria. However, this bakery has 16" dense pizzas, loaded with cheese and toppings. One large pizza here has the mass of two at your average pizzeria. Size aside, the pizzas here are simply great. The artisan pizzas are excellent as is the straight sausage (shown below). You can tell everything is made with care and is done so by Jean Paul himself. Anderson

8. Raniero's Pizzeria - Historically it's tough to find pizza the quality you would get on Bleecker Street in Cincinnati. However, Raniero's is a strong contender out of Kentucky and is my new favorite New York style slice in the city. The crust is thin fold-able and tasty. Also, they use pretty high-quality (Boar's Head) ingredients and you can tell the pizza is thoughtfully made. All in all, an excellent slice (Potential conflict of interest - you can find my picture on the wall of this pizzeria). Cold Spring
Raniero's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


9. ZZ's Pizzeria - ZZ's specializes in and has a great selection of artisan pizzas. I have found the homemade crust to sometimes be a bit soggy sometimes, but besides that everything about the pizza was great. Also, ZZ's has just a cool layout - It's in an angular corner building, and the restaurant is pretty nice inside. You have to park on the street, but it's easy to get a spot on Gilbert. Walnut Hills

10. Noce's Pizzeria - Good New York style pizza with a nice variety of different toppings. Also, the garlic knots are the best in the city and also the cannoli is pretty good. It's a hole in the wall pizza place, but cheap, and one of the best New York style pizzas in Cincinnati.

11. Trotta's Pizza - They're pick-up and delivery only now, but still have the great pizza I grew up on. The pizza here uses a thicker garlic-heavy crust. Pizzas can be quite sizable, with the largest being called the Lotta Trotta. Also, they have a surprisingly large amount of different ingredients available, and very good hoagies. Everything I've had here is great and at a reasonable price. Western Hills

 
12. Cosmic Pizza - Another excellent New York style pizzeria, Cosmic claims to have some of best pizza in the galaxy. I tend to agree - their pizza is quite good. Cosmic uses the thinnest of the thin crusts with good sauce in toppings. Also, talking with the owner, I can tell he is thoughtful and really treats pizza-making as a craft. The one drawback is that there's very little space to enjoy this pizza in the restaurant. Wyoming
Cosmic Pizza on Urbanspoon

13. Betta's Italian Oven - Good wood-fired pizza. The menu says the pizzas are 10" but they appear to be about 13". In my opinion some of the toppings can be a little bland. However, the great charred crust from the wood-fired oven (at about 700 degrees) makes the pizza. Betta's has a great selection of artisan pizzas as well as good some classic ones.  Norwood

14. Bourbon House and Pizzeria - A Chicago-style pizza place (both Chicago-style deep dish and thin crust) located in Kentucky. The pizzas here come up to 18". The ingredients are pretty standard. The stand out in the thin pie is the excellent garlic crust, which makes the pizza. Also, they serve draft beer in mason jars (a big plus). Good pizza and at their prices it's worth a try. Burlington


15. Chi-nnati's Pizza - I a bit of a deep-dish skeptic (some are just glorified casseroles). At Chi-nnati's, however, I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you order their Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The flaky corn-bread crust is quite good, and the cheese is excellent. Kenwood

16. Adriatico's Pizza - Good cheap college pizza, and home of the 24 x 18" "Bearcat". It's the type of heavy but good pizza that helps one through exams. Adriatico's is currently delivery only though, until the city gives them permits for expansion. Clifton
 

17. Giuseppe's Pizzeria - Located in a colorful part of south Covington, Giuseppe's puts out some pretty nice pizza. The crust is hand-tossed with a good butter and garlic taste. The cheese and sauce are okay but drowned out by the quantity of toppings. Their signature pizza, the "Mainstrasse Monster" has pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, and gyro meat - an awesome combination. It's a darn good pizza at a reasonable price, and definitely the best pizza I've had in Covington. Covington
Giuseppe's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

18. Fred and Gari's - The pizza is like Papa John's... except everything is better. Fred and Gari's a downtown lunch spot that tends to fly under the radar. The restaurant is pick up only and it's best to call ahead. However, everything I have had here is delicious. While they specialize in various other lunch options, Fred and Gari's also has excellent fresh made thin-crust pizza. the toppings are tasty and the crust has an excellent combination of crisp and chewiness. It's truly a well-craft pie.  Downtown
Fred & Gari's on Urbanspoon

19. Buona Vita Pizzeria - This restaurant is very small and the walls are decorated like a family room. "The Good Life Pizzeria" features a full menu of tasty and greasy thin crust pizzas. Also, if you want to experience la dolce vita, they have a full menu of desert cookies. Bellevue

20. N.Y.P.D. Pizza - N.Y.P.D is a small West-side New York style pizza chain. Their pizza comes in thin, very flexible slices. It is probably the greasiest pizza on this list, but is also quite good. If ordering for a group, be sure to try the cheese bread here, it's huge and delicious.

21. The Works - This is an old firehouse converted into a brick oven pizzeria. The pizzas come on a nice medium crust. To me, their main virtue is the huge amount of toppings added (Pepperoni stacked six high) and lots of cheese. I found the sauce and ingredients are a little boring, but the crust and quantities are great. Loveland

22. Raymond's Pizza - Raymond's, Chester's, and Richard's on the North-side of the city are great examples of what you might call a Ohio Valley style pizza. The crust is medium in thickness yet airy and crisp, the toppings are numerous, and the pizza is square-cut. The toppings stand out as the dominant taste, but the pizza is good all around and worth a try. West Chester

23. Pizza Tower - Pizza Tower is just a solid all around Midwestern pizzeria. The pizzas have a liberal amount of toppings and cheese, both of which are pretty good. Also, Pizza Tower has a big and diverse pizza menu. It is is a little more expensive than comparable pizzerias but in my opinion the pizza is better than most. Mason

24. Roc-A-Fellas - Doughy pizza with a homemade sauce of "crushed tomatoes, garlic, authentic Italian spices, real Romano cheese, and our tasty secret – a dash of sour cream!" I found that the sauce was dominated by that sour taste. It's definitely different than anything else I’ve had, but is pretty darn good. Also, they are liberal with the cheese and toppings - all around a good pizza. Sharonville

25. Ramundo's Pizzeria and Deli - Solid New York style pizza you can eat on the street in Mt. Lookout. It really hits the spot after you've had a few. Also, sometimes I opt for the giant 24" pizza here... Mt. Lookout

26. Mt. Adams Pizza and Deli - Late night pizza joints tend towards mediocrity. Mt Adams Pizza is an exception to this trend, and instead produces some very solid brick oven pizza. The crust was slightly charred and had a nice flavor. The cheese and sauce were pretty standard. But, the great crust makes this a good pizza option and a nice addition to Mt. Adams. ...One downside, one is prone to forgetting to take out the pizza saver when taking a light night photo.
Mt. Adams Pizza & Deli on Urbanspoon

27. Cincy by the Slice - A two location pizzeria that serves inexpensive slices. I've been to both, and one thing that stands out is the friendliness of the staff. By the Slice is a solid thin crispy crust pizzeria. Also, unique for a Cincinnati pizzeria, they frequently use pickles as a topping. Downtown / Deer Park

28. Fratelli's New York Style Pizzeria - Fratelli's serves big foldible thin-crust NY style slices. The pizza is pretty straightforward, but solid. The toppings are not of the highest quality but they do come in large quantities. West Chester

29. Aponte's Pizzeria - Aponte's pizza has medium somewhat fluffy crust, a mozzarella blend, and heavy toppings (although without overwhelming taste). No part of Aponte's Pizza had a particularly strong taste, but it's a good solid pizza. Mason

30. Sorrento's Pizzeria - Sorrento's is an old Italian bar with a lot of character, and a great place to go after a Xavier game. The pizza here tastes better than it looks - It's all thin crust, the sauce wasn't bad, but for me the pepperoni and chunks of Italian sausage made the pizza. Norwood

Honorable mention: Italinette, Pasquale's, Salvadore's, Van Zandt Tavern, Shorty's Pizza Place, Hyde Park Pizzeria, Pepperoncini's, Newtown Village Tavern, Richard's, and NorthSlice (closed? otherwise they would have ranked high). Also, I haven't yet tried Enoteca Emilia, but hear good things.

With all these places, why ever eat at Larosa's? :-)

9 comments:

  1. Right you are, but it's only local wood-fired I know that gets into the quadruple digits.

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  2. You should really try Padrino in Milford!

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    Replies
    1. It's good, will be on the next version of this list

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  3. Queen City Pizza is the best valued pizza I've tried.

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    1. Haven't had Queen City Pizza since roughly 1994. Might be due to try it again...

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  4. If you ever venture north, you might try Stefano's wood-fired pizza in Middletown. It's pretty good and made from fresh ingredients (some home-grown in season). I've only had it once or twice as I'm hooked on their chicken entrees. I notice LaRosa didn't make your list; although a big chain, they are still one of my faves *when done right* (depends on which location and I guess who's making them that day - the one on Mt. Zion Road in Florence KY is consistently good, and Delhi Pike @ Mt. Alverno in Delhi seems to be also). Curious if you like any of what I call "Miami Valley" pizzas from the Dayton area like Cassano's or Marion's, with the cracker-thin crust (sort of like Donato's)? The two are almost identical, and are spreading south - Cassano's is as far as Middletown, Monroe & Trenton; Mario's just opened on Tylersville Rd. in West Chester.

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    1. Stefano's looks pretty good, I'll have to try that the next time I'm through Middletown. ...I bash Larosa's sometimes, but I do actually kinda like their focaccia.

      I use the term "Miami Valley" style also. I have tried Marion's and reviewed Cassano's (http://cincinnatimalavita.blogspot.com/2010/06/cassanos.html). Cassano’s was my favorite and I like both better than Donato's. Looking for more places of that style to try. I think there is room for some entrepreneur to open a really high quality "Miami Valley" style pizzeria in the Cincy-Dayton area.

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  5. Awesome pizza recipe. I brought a pizza oven last Friday from "BBQ Spit Rotisseries" now I am preparing to make some pizza in my wood fired pizza oven. I think your tips will help me a lot to do this.

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