Sunday, December 15, 2013

Delicio Coal-Fired Pizza

This is a place we were very much looking forward to trying. Delicio opened last month as the first coal fired pizzeria in Cincinnati. Our favorite pizzas have been from the great old coal-fired pizzerias on the East Coast. The first American pizzerias, like Lombardi's, Patsy's, Frank Pepe's, and Totonno's, used coal ovens that they inherited from old Italian bakeries. Coal has some properties that make it ideal for pizza: it burns at a very high temperature and doesn't put off much moisture. As a result, coal oven pizza tends to be a hybrid between Neapolitan pizza (usually made in a wood-fired oven) and New York Style pizza (generally a lower temperature gas oven) - A big pizza with a crisp, well-done crust. The style is making a bit of a comeback now, with chains like Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza. Done right, the crisp yet chewy crust produced by a coal-fired oven is outstanding.

The coal-fired name made us expect something similar to the great old coal-fired pizzerias on the East coast. In sum: the crust was similar, the sauce and toppings were different, but the end result was quite good. Here's Delico's "Perfect Pepperoni" pizza:

The Perfect Pepperoni
Undercarriage shot
I would have liked if they left it in the oven another 30 seconds, for some additional char. Nonetheless, it was one of the best crusts I've had in Cincinnati. The sauce tasted like pure tomatoes, without much added. With the bretzel appetizer, I found it a bit plain. However, it worked well on the pizza. The pepperoni was thick, as if it were freshly cut from a stick. The edges were bent up, creating a cup of deliciousness. We loved that. 

In the classic Midwest style, Delicio really covers the pizza in a thick layer of cheese. That can be bad , if the cheese is rubbery. But this is no Little Caeser's cheese. It was really tasty and we enjoyed it. 
That said, the cheese may be the biggest difference between Delicio and an East Coast coal-fired place. Those pizzas tend to have differentiated patches of fresh mozzarella, rather than a consistent covering. For reference, here's a shot taken last year of Patsy's Pizzeria in Italian Harlem (Frank Sinatra's favorite pizzeria). 
In sum, Delicio offers a fine take on coal-fired pizza - A delicious crust with a healthy amount of toppings. This is a well crafted, hearty pizza without the pretenses of some Neapolitan pizzerias. There is literally nothing else like Delicio in Cincinnati. We recommend trying it - Happy eating! 

Delicio Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon
Patsy's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


  1. Coal fired pizza in Cincinnati?? Must try.
    When I visited my sister in Hartford they had a pizza shop with 90 yr old coal fired oven bigger than my condo baking pizzas, it was pretty damn good.

  2. Jealous - I've not been to Hartford, but I know many believe that New Haven, CT has the best apizza in the country. ...Those old coal fired places that have hung around since the 1920s are always great in my experience. It's a shame there aren't more of them in the Midwest, which I think has something to do with coal prices. I think there's only two in Chicago and they're both newer like Delicio.


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