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Deep Dish Dilemma: Which of these 3 pizzerias is your fave?

J.R. McMillan

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“It’s a lovely casserole, but it’s not a pizza,” quipped an equally opinionated eater as we disputed the defining design of a true Chicago pie.

The Gold Coast isn’t alone in its claim of a signature style.

Foldable New York slices are well known, with regional variations from New Jersey to New Haven. California has its quirky toppings and St. Louis a unique blend of provolone, Swiss, and white cheddar.

Detroit deep-dish gets its square shape and crunchy corners from blue steel parts pans pinched from auto assembly lines. Milwaukee might be the closest to our own familiar fare, with square slices and curled nickel pepperoni on a flaky thin crust.

Perhaps the reason no one claims “Columbus Pizza” as its own distinct style is because we’re not pizza purists averse to new ideas or unexpected twists on a classic dish.

We’re a working-class town with working-class tastes and no patience for petty pizza punditry. We don’t forego thumping our chests because we’re mediocre—we’re just magnanimous.

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To understand the curious appeal of Chicago’s claim to pizza fame, you have to understand what it is—and what it isn’t.

“Deep Dish” and “Chicago Style” are not synonymous.

They’re certainly farther removed than their hand-tossed and hand-stretched cousins. Commonly called “Sicilian”, deep dish is all about the crust, and not just the edge. Its thick, airy, and chewy throughout with a base of sauce covered in cheese and toppings.

Chicago-style crust is high on the sides, but only thick enough in the middle to contain layers of filling with the order often reversed — cheese on the bottom, toppings, then sauce.

That’s why a deep-dish pizza takes a little longer than a more traditional one, but a Chicago-style pizza takes closer to an hour.

Columbus boasts a trio of worthy rivals to Giordano’s recent entry into the city’s established Chicago-style pizza scene.

Meister’s Bar

1168 Chambers Rd.

Read Meister’s reviews on eat614.com!

Columbus bar fare is often far better than most restaurants. Even our dive bars defy expectations.

Between King and Kinnear is the home of one of the best pizzas in the city. (Really, I’m pretty sure the place used to be a house.) Craft beer is on tap, but if you’re looking for two-buck PBRs or dollar cans, the daily beer specials are budget-friendly.

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Yes, it’s a sports bar of sorts, but it’s worth the sometimes-tight seating just for the pizza.

The golden crust is a little thicker in the middle than some Chicago-style pies, but the high sides and sauce sequence place it well within spec.

If you’re a local, you can likely order when they open at 4pm and have it out of the oven in less time than it takes to get to Polaris at rush hour.

The proximity to OSU also means they’re open late. Just don’t be the putz who shows up ten minutes before closing for a carry-over order that takes an easy 45 minutes before it hits the box.

Yellow Brick Pizza

892 Oak St.

Read Yellow Brick’s reviews at eat614.com!

How do you get instant street cred for your Chicago-style pizza? You bring in a master to teach your staff how it’s done.

When Lou Tristano decided to close his Grove City restaurant last year, Yellow Brick stepped in to ensure his pizza proficiency didn’t disappear as well.

Though Olde Towne East is far from the suburb Tristano’s called home, the pizza is pretty damned close, right down to the braided edge on the crust that makes it easy to spot in your friends’ Instagram feeds.

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Sure, there was a little hushed fuss about Yellow Brick serving the already famous pie, but pay that no mind. No one poached a pizza here, and Yellow Brick’s menu was already as unexpected and outside-the-box as a pizza place could get. (Hell, Hounddog’s is still serving Smokin’ Joe’s crust more than a decade later.)

Lou’s legacy lives on in his pizza, and working with him to preserve it earns high marks for Yellow Brick and a city that collaborates as enthusiastically as it competes and eats. Columbus is a big pie, there’s plenty for everyone.

Giordano’s

2137 Polaris Pkwy

Giordono’s blew in from the Windy City about two years ago and has been loved and devoured by Cbuses ever since. And since it’s from Chicago, you know it’s legit.

The Wisconsin mozzarella cheese is made specifically for Giordano’s, the heavy-handed sauce smooshes all the way up your nose when you take a bite, and the flakey crust provides a perfectly crispy finish…that is, if you choose to start your deep dish adventure at the tip of the cheesy triangle.

Each Giordano’s stuffed pie is made by six skilled pizza artisans committed to bringing your the Chi-town delicacy right here in Columbus each and every time.

“I grew up on Giordanos and was thrilled when they opened last summer!” wrote eat614.com user @Columbus.twentysomething. “The price may seem a little much for pizza but it is worth every cent! There’s no shortage of cheese and flavor!”

Read more reviews at eat614.com!

Originally appeared in (614) Magazine November 2017

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Food & Drink

Rossi goes ratless, opens after “emergency” rodent activity closure

614now

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Update: After less than 48 hours of being issued a red sticker by the Columbus Public Health Department for "rodent activity in the basement prep area" The Rossi Bar + Kitchen is back open for business.

In an excited post on Facebook, The Rossi thanked their "loyal and wonderful" customers for their support through the closure.

https://www.facebook.com/TheRossiBarandKitchen/posts/2759890094044319:0

Scroll down for more on The Rossi's emergency order.


08/15/2019: Someone is getting assigned to some "Charlie Work" after The Rossi Bar and Kitchen was served a red sticker by the Columbus Public Health Department.

The Short North restaurants was issued an emergency order yesterday because of "rodent activity in the basement prep area." Reportedly, inspectors discovered dead rats in traps and excessive rat feces in the bowels of the 895 N. High St. building.

Rossi will remain closed until the facility is cleaned, holes in the basement are repaired, and the rats are under control, according to a post from Tom Sussi, a local licensed and insured Private Investigator.

Sussi added that sources informed him that employees are not being paid on time.

https://www.facebook.com/mrtomsussi/posts/2317071688406214

In an Instagram post, Rossi announced it'd be closed "for the next few days due to emergency repair."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1KmvTBgsdw/
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Food & Drink

You’ll like Buckeye Donut’s newest treat a la lot

614now

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Columbus' favorite donut shop will be rolling out [literally] a brand new treat just in time for the annual Columbus Food Truck Festival.

We think you'll like it a la lot.

Ice cream and donuts will converge in perfect harmony for Buckeye Donuts Apple Fritter A La Mode! That's right, a cool scoop of vanilla ice cream will rest on top of the fan favorite sweet and fruity fried pastry, all drizzled in sticky caramel. You might need a napkin (or sleeve) for this one.

This special goodie will be available Friday and Saturday from 11:00 AM- 11:00 PM only at the Columbus Food Truck Festival on the Scioto Mile.

Click here for our advise about how to optimize your experience at the foodie fest.

https://www.facebook.com/BuckeyeDonuts/posts/10156648316202411
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Food & Drink

Fried, Smothered, & Loaded: Vegetarian Junk Food

Mitch Hooper

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Whenever the words “vegetarian” or “vegan” are thrown around, people’s defense walls go up as they instantly imagine bland salads or unseasoned tofu. Since both diets have become wildly popular trends in the world of eating, they are often associated with exclusive, healthy, clean, natural, raw, whatever...eating.

As a vegetarian, I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. Sure, we vegetarians eat our share of salads, and occasionally tofu is substituted for chicken on our health-conscious dishes, but that’s not the full picture of our plates. Whether it’s loading up on carb-heavy sides, covering things in cheese (or vegan “cheese”), or living off the appetizer menu; living a plant-based diet can be just as much fun and games as any other fare - and here are a few dishes from around Columbus to prove it.

AM Philly

Angry Baker Olde Towne East | 891 Oak St.

Angry Baker has found a way to cover things in cheese and still please the vegans. The AM Philly comes loaded with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and peppers with tofu scramble atop a fresh and soft hoagie bun. To keep it in true “cheese/steak” form, they top the entire masterpiece with vegan cheddar cheese and a little vegan mayo. The sandwich is every bit as flavorful as a regular Philly, plus it’s just as messy to eat. I recommend a few squirts of Sriracha on it, but then again, I recommend that on everything

Buffalo Mac

Woodhouse Vegan Pop-up | 1038 N High St.

Keeping it cheesy, but plant-based, comes from the vegan pop-up at Oddfellows with the Buffalo Mac. The entree is relatively simple, but that just means more chances to really focus on flavor. The Beyond Meat “chicken” strips are marinated in buffalo sauce to really pack a punch and then is topped with more buffalo sauce and dairy-free ranch dressing with a bed of dairy-free mac and “cheese” to dig into. It’s finished off with some raw red onion and scallions to fully recreate that buffalo-style experience. Keep an eye out for Woodhouse’s first brick-and-mortar location setting up shop in the Italian Village.

Fried Cauliflower 

Hadley’s Bar + Kitchen | 260 S Fourth St.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvcR4PnAOdM/

Cauliflower is the new favorite vegetable amongst dieters for being low-carb. It’s inviting to a variety of flavors, and it can be used in many creative ways. At Hadley’s, the fried cauliflower resembles the bar-style boneless wings you might be craving since ditching meat. It’s the little things you miss as a plant-eater (like dipping sauces). So finding a place that offers three different sauce options—Dr. Pepper barbeque, house hot, and General Tso’s—is quite a gratifying moment. Dunk these addicting suckers into Hadley’s house-made ranch or bleu cheese and you’ll be fighting your carnivorous friends off as they ask to try a bite.

Parma, Italy

Melt | 4206 Worth Ave. & 840 N High St.

Usually Melt’s sheer amount of dairy usage is enough to scare off any vegan within a 10-mile radius, but that all changed once Melt added an entire menu dedicated to vegan options. There are tons of options to choose from, but the Parma, Italy might take the caloric crown when it comes to plant-based indulgence. The sandwich features vegan chicken (or fried tofu) smothered in basil marinara with roasted garlic and vegan mozzarella cheese all in between two crusty pieces of garlic toast. It might not hurt to park a little further away from Melt just to burn a few extra calories on the way to and from devouring way too much food. 

The Joe Vegan Sloppy Sandwich

Lineage Brewing | 2971 N High St.

“Have some more sloppy joes! I made ‘em extra sloppy for you!” If that scene from Billy Madison still haunts you any time you go to break out some Manwich from the cupboard, put that canned sauce down and go to Lineage. Immediately order a beer to wash away the memory of the lunch lady, and then snag the Joe Vegan sloppy sandwich off the menu. It’s a hearty combination of lentils and kidney beans in the iconic sloppy joe sauce, and it’s topped with raw onion and your choice of vegan cheese sauce or cheddar cheese. Throw in a side of potato chips and it’s like being a teenager all over again except this time you didn’t have to steal your dad’s beer.

Vegan Barbeque Jackfruit

Alchemy | 625 Parsons Ave. 

& 1439 Grandview Ave. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Br8OMmWhpZK/

Jackfruit is a delicate fruit that tastes almost nothing like fruit. It’s a great vessel for sauces and flavorings, but if it’s not cooked properly, it can turn into a mushy mess. Thankfully, Alchemy has perfected this process with their vegan take on a classic barbeque pulled pork sandwich. The jackfruit is tender, but stays in form on the roll. For added texture and taste, the sandwich is served on a crunchy ciabatta roll with carrot cabbage slaw in an herbed cashew cream.

Brussel Sprouts

Barrel On High | 1120 N High St.

Don’t turn your nose up on Brussel sprouts, these green brain-looking vegetables are great for absorbing flavor and they have that “meaty” taste. At Barrel on High, these Brussels are oven-roasted and tossed into a Thai chili sauce making them potentially your new favorite thing. While the Thai chili brussel sprouts are worth tripling up on and calling it a dinner, might I point you in the direction of the Impossible Burger as well. The Impossible Burger has grown to fame because it resembles every aspect of meat while remaining plant-based, and Barrel’s straight-up approach of making an American classic go vegan will have you double checking the menu to make sure it’s not actually beef.

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