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The Six: Pizza

Tangy sauce, gooey cheese and a thick, chewy crust. If this doesn’t have you drooling and craving a slice of pizza, I don’t know what will. Growing up a picky eater, pizza was always a top go-to. I’m constantly searching for the best pizza in Columbus to share with my instagram followers, and now, with all of you!

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Pizza

Tangy sauce, gooey cheese and a thick, chewy crust. If this doesn’t have you drooling and craving a slice of pizza, I don’t know what will. Growing up a picky eater, pizza was always a top go-to. I’m constantly searching for the best pizza in Columbus to share with my instagram followers, and now, with all of you! Hopefully a few pizza joints on this list will inspire you to step outside your ‘za comfort zone!

 #6  Yellow Brick

If you’re looking for a local, delicious take on a Chicago deep dish, head to Yellow Brick. Located in Olde Towne East, this funky pizza shop is full of interesting pizzas with crazy toppings. However, their iconic deep dish cheese pizza is complete with chunky red sauce and cheese that will give you that mouthwatering cheese pull. They also get extra marks for making a twisted crust topped with butter and delicious herbs. This joint is super popular, and the deep dish can take 40 minutes, so I suggest showing up early, heading over on a weeknight, or ordering pick-up. But don’t worry. This pizza is totally worth the wait!

Yellow Brick

892 Oak St

(614) 725-5482

 #5  Harvest Pizzeria

Harvest Pizzeria is for those farm to table foodies. Harvest Pizzeria makes it on my list for a few reasons. Number one is obviously that their pizza is delicious. The second reason is that they work really hard to partner with local farmers to provide their meats, cheeses, and vegetables. They believe that “local tastes better”, which I couldn’t agree with more. Their dough is made fresh in-house and they cook their pizzas in a stone oven, which gives them a perfectly crunchy crust.

I’m a sucker for a classic Margherita pizza, but if you’re feeling fancy, their pizza menu has many interesting choices. You can try the Goat Cheese with Salame Toscano and cherry tomatoes, The Geary Street with clams and mozzarella, or the Spicy Yuma with chorizo, jalapeno, and chipotle-spiked tomato sauce. If you’re at the German Village location, be sure to check out Curio, their cocktail bar! You can check out their other locations in Dublin and Clintonville as well.

Harvest Pizzeria

German Village, Dublin, Clintonville

 #4  Bono Pizza

Bono Pizza is the classic hole in the wall pizza joint. If you’ve never heard of Bono (which I hadn’t until recently), it’s located in an apartment complex in southern Upper Arlington (not so easy to spot). If you can find your way in, they have some really interesting combinations of toppings like anchovies and olives, kielbasa and sauerkraut, and pineapple, onions, ham, and gorgonzola all cooked using their wood fire oven.

When I first looked at their menu, I was a little nervous. I used to be a really picky eater, and sometimes I revert back to my old ways. I had heard such rave reviews about their pizza, so I decided to be brave and try the Zingaro pizza (pictured). HOLY COW, was I glad I didn’t ask for a substitution (chef props)! This pizza comes with caramelized Smithfield ham and bacon, gorgonzola cheese, garlic, fresh basil, green onions, fresh mozzarella, brie, swiss, fresh juicy pineapple and a sprinkle of pixie dust. It was the perfect combination of salty and sweet. I can’t wait to try out more of their delectable pizzas!

Bono Pizza

1412 Presidential Dr
(614) 906-8646

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 #3  Mikey’s Late Night

Mikey’s is great for all levels of sobriety.  Just as the name indicates, Mikey’s has been a late night staple in my life since I moved back to Columbus after college. I would be walking down High Street late at night literally praying that they would be at the food truck spot near Pint House. I also may or may not have walked all the way to Odd Fellows some nights just for that magical cheesy slice. Thank goodness, you can get your fix all over the city!

Mikey’s is well known for their edgy style, with menu items like “spicy-ass pepperoni”, “unicorn (or slut) sauce”, and “the baby cheezus”. If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating a slice (or 2) of Mikey’s, I suggest you change that ASAP!

Mikey's

Short North, Downtown, Clintonville

 #2  Paulie Gee’s

Being a food blogger has quite a few perks, and one of them is getting the chance to meet the people behind this restaurant. When I visited Paulie Gee’s for the first time last year, I had the pleasure of meeting TJ Gibbs, the owner of Paulie Gee’s. He shared his amazing story about how as an OSU grad, he moved to Brooklyn and shadowed the actual Paulie of Paulie Gee’s. After spending a year learning the tricks of the trade, TJ came back to Columbus and opened up his own version of Paulie Gee’s in the Short North.

At Paulie Gee’s, the pizza is baked in a wood-fired Napoli oven, imported from Italy. This creates a perfectly crispy and bubbly crust. If you go during happy hour, you can order PIZZA FLIGHTS (pictured). Three mini pizzas that are perfect for those indecisive moments that we all get looking at a pizza menu. You really can’t go wrong, but if you’re looking for a super interesting pizza, I suggest the Cherry Jones. It has gorgonzola, prosciutto, cherries, and orange blossom honey, YUM! 

Paulie Gee's

1195 N High St
(614) 808-0112

 #1  Pizza Cucinova

Pizza Cucinova has been my favorite pizza place for some time now. They seriously know what they are doing in the pizza oven. One of the best things about Cucinova is all of their pizzas are made totally from scratch. They use fresh ingredients and hand make and stretch their dough. That’s pretty unusual for a fast casual pizza restaurant! They spend all day roasting the veggies, hand rolling the meatballs, and prepping the other delicious ingredients that grace your yummy pizza.

The best part about all of these amazing ingredients and another reason they are #1? For only $8, you can add AS MANY TOPPINGS AS YOU WANT. After you pick your toppings, your pizza goes into an extremely hot wood fired oven to cook for 2-3 minutes. The crust gets golden delicious and the cheese gets bubbly and you have the perfect pizza. Don’t forget to add my personal favorite finishing touch, balsamic glaze once it’s out of the oven!

Pizza Cucinova

Dublin, Easton, Polaris, Grandview, Westerville

Jordan Ankerman, of @midwest_foodfest, is a creative teacher and foodie who enjoys sharing her enthusiastic demeanor and passion for yummy food with all of her Instagram followers. You can find her eating pizza and snapping photos of her meals wherever she goes!

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Restaurant Review: El Lugar and Alpine bring Spanish, German tapas to German Village

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Displayed proudly along the wall behind El Lugar’s bar are rows and rows of canned seafood—not the ingredient of choice one might expect from an upscale tapas and pinchos restaurant, located in a city with a culinary scene that typically fawns over either traditional American, or fresh and local food. Nevertheless, the Espinaler cans of tuna, razor shells, and cockles reside there like a dare for those with adventurous enough appetites to try some of the finest seafood in the world. 

Photos by Julian Foglietti

El Lugar is a shared effort by co-owners Enis and A.J. Ndreu and Elidon Hizmo to bring new and authentic European flavors to Columbus. Their two new restaurants, El Lugar and Alpine, sit next door to one another and provide different, yet complementary experiences of Spanish and German cuisines. One side boasts a more family-friendly selection of meats, cheeses and hearty vegetables, while the other is fresh Mediterranean flavors of citrus and seafood. Both share an intriguing selection of signature cocktails. 

In contrast to El Lugar, Alpine features cuisine that showcases flavors from across Germany. Nicholas Paxton, the executive chef at both restaurants who was tasked with transforming the owners’ vision into menus, is neither German nor originally familiar with German food, so he brought in consultants more familiar with the region to help develop the recipes. “I love the authenticity that we provide here on the Alpine side,” Paxton said. “There’s a broad spectrum of what German food can be.”

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Alpine is continuing the tradition of authentic regional food that has helped characterize German Village, where it and El Lugar are located. The two restaurants replaced Juergen’s Bakery, a community staple that provided Columbus with Bavarian-style fare for 50 years. Co-owner A.J. Ndreu said they’d been looking for a spot in the area to open up another German restaurant (they also own Wurst und Bier in Worthington), so when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped.

“I used to buy all my pastries from Rosemarie [Keidel, Juergen’s Bakery’s owner],” A.J. Ndreu said. 

“We just connected and she’s like, ‘I’d love for you to take over and make a German restaurant out of it.’ ”

With that, he and his cousin launched into bringing to life their concepts for German and tapas restaurants, which they’d been developing for a decade.

One of the most instrumental sources of inspiration for A.J. has been traveling around Europe. He lived in France, where he fell in love with French food. But once he experienced all the different ways Spanish cuisine used seafood, beef and pork, he was convinced otherwise. “I thought French food was the best cuisine in the world until I started going to Spain.”

The simplicity of Spanish food is a challenge for Paxton, who says his tendency when developing a recipe is to mess with its components. Spanish cuisine, in contrast, consists of ingredients that can speak for themselves; all Paxton has to do, he says, is figure out how they work together and wait for inspiration to hit.

Back in 2008, Anthony Bourdain traveled to Catalonia for his show “No Reservations” to explore the same flavors that intrigued Ndreu and Paxton. At a little bar about half an hour outside of Barcelona, Bourdain tried Espinaler’s canned seafood, and asked, “How can any chef do better for you than that?” Ndreu was captivated.

“I was like, ‘What the hell is he talking about? It’s canned,’ ” Ndreu puzzled. “So […] I went, and I was amazed. It’s unbelievable. It’s some of the best seafood I ever ate.”

After that, A.J. spent years trying to find a way to bring Espinaler’s products to Ohio, and he finally uncovered an opportunity in El Lugar. But besides the seafood, El Lugar also features Vermut Lacuesta—not the vermouth used for lining a martini glass, but a wine-like drink to be enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail. It also offers the Spanish serrano and ibérico hams, which can be cured for years. The more expensive of the two, ibérico ham comes from black pigs fed an acorn diet and can take up to five years to reach peak flavor.

Next door, Alpine’s menu describes dishes like leberkäse (a meatloaf) and wurstteller (a selection of sausages). Diners can also order raclette, available by the scrape, over any meal. But not forgetting that it’s still in the United States, Alpine offers a handful of American classics during happy hour. These include mini cheeseburger sliders, tater tots with beer cheese dip, and fried chicken wings, among others. 

Alpine and El Lugar present their guests with foreign foods that encourage diners to explore the culinary diversity of Europe. Portion sizes, particularly at El Lugar, may be a bit smaller, but Paxton hopes Columbus diners will recognize the value in great, unique-tasting food and finding excellence in unexpected places.

“We don’t want you to fill up on it. We want you to taste some amazing flavors that nobody else is doing,” Paxton said.

Alpine and El Lugar are located at 525 S 4th St. in German Village. Find out about Alpine at alpine614.com and El Lugar at ellugar614.com.

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They’ll be nothing to wine about at these 9 local wineries

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Everyone knows that Columbus is a craft beer city, but fortunately for those who never got acclimated to the yeasty drink, there’s wine. We may not have the best climate for grape growing, but these nine wineries around Columbus are breaking down barriers and serving up delicious bottles to vino lovers.

Camelot Cellars Winery | 901 Oak St, Columbus

Camelot Cellars, an award-winning Urban Boutique Winery, handcrafts all their own wines sourcing premier juices from vineyards all over the world. Offerings include retail wines by the bottle, wine tastings, flights, and event spaces.

Via Vecchia Winery | 2050 S High St, Columbus

This family-owned, urban winery is tucked away off a private lane and hosts 7700 square feet of exclusive venue space. With original exposed brick archways, wood ceiling beams and limestone walls, every experience is sure to be unforgettable.

Wyandotte Winery | 4640 Wyandotte Dr, Columbus

Wyandotte Winery is the first and oldest winery in Central Ohio, conveniently located just miles from Easton Town Center. With wines made from Ohio grapes and a beautiful patio to enjoy them on, you’re sure to enjoy your experience at Wyandotte Winery.

Signature Wines | 3816 April Ln, Columbus

Unlike many urban wineries, Signature Wines makes wines predominantly from whole grapes  and juices brought into Columbus from predominately California and Ohio using traditional, small scale winemaking techniques.  Stop into the Winery to enjoy a glass of wine in a comfortable atmosphere.

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Hidden Lakes Winery | 650 Winchester Pike, Canal Winchester

Hidden Lakes offers a delightful selection of house-made, award-winning wines and unique craft beers. Along with beverages, enjoy food from the newly-updated kitchen while taking in the scenic lakeside view.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant | 4230 The Strand, Columbus

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants celebrates moments that matter with chef-crafted food, award-winning wines, and life-long friendships. Outstanding wine, modern fare, Napa-inspiring tasting room: Cooper’s Hawk.

Good Vibes Winery | 2 S State St, Westerville

Good Vibes Winery is an urban winery located in Uptown Westerville, offering guests a wine experience, bistro samplings, and a beautiful environment to be enjoyed by friends and family.

Plum Run Winery | 3946 Broadway, Grove City

Plum Run Winery is a family-owned winery focusing on small batches of quality wines made from locally sourced fruit. A 3-acre vineyard located five miles south of the winery provides many of the grapes for the estate wines. Stop by and enjoy the wine and hospitality!

Powell Village Winery | 50 Liberty St, Powell

As one of the first wine négociants in Ohio, Powell Village Winery sources, blends, and produces small lots of high quality vinifera wines from America’s notable grape-growing regions. From bold & dry to sweet & fruity, they strive to create a diverse range of distinct wines for every taste.

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Tuttle Mall getting a lot sweeter thanks to 2 newcomers

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Malls have changed a lot over the years. Remember Waldenbooks? Was KB Toys your go-to as a kid? Heck, even Sears will soon be nothing more than a memory.

While mall establishments are frequently lost to the sands of time, it’s rare that you see a former retailer return to a mall it’s already vacated once. Well brace yourselves, sweets fans, because a gooey, sugar-frosted favorite is making a comeback at Tuttle Mall.

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Of course we’re talking Cinnabon, which was last in operation at Tuttle some years ago, and is now listed as “coming soon” on the mall’s directory. But wait! As tempting as it will be to fill up on cinnamon rolls after this long absence, you’ll want to save room for this other coming attraction: it seems Duck Donuts is also setting up shop in Tuttle.

Hop on the treadmill and give your dentist a heads-up, mall lovers—sweets are back at Tuttle in a big way!

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