While it is an established and beloved presence in the West Virginia market, Pies and Pints is brand new to the Ohio market. Newly-opened in The Shopps at Worthington Place, Pies & Pints is eyeing more locations around the Columbus market, bringing its unique take on pizza and its eclectic beer menu to a larger audience. Another Food Critic and a number of other local food bloggers and writers had the pleasure of attending an invitation tasting event to sample the dishes and meet the people who are bringing Pies & Pints to prominence.
A family business, Rocco Ranalli’s Cafe & Pizza in downtown Chicago’s central Loop neighborhood seems like sort of a jack-of-all-trades of a restaurant. It welcomes children but still plays up its bar. It’s got plenty of local beers, but it’s also got a heavy emphasis on Chicago sports. These sorts of things seem like they would attract opposite, and clashing, crowds, but it all seems to be managed well. The end result is an altogether pleasant place where you could enjoy yourself with just about any crowd. The food follows sort of the same formula.
In 1974, brothers Efren and Joseph Boglio of Torino, Italy opened a pizza shop in the Windy City. The two, reportedly unimpressed by existing pizza options, used their mother’s recipe for double-crust, deep-dish pizza to great local acclaim. Today, Giordano’s has 44 locations all over the city and Florida, and for Chicagoans, business is all about one thing: the legendary Chicago deep dish pizza. The way this business is set up, you can probably have a deep dish pizza delivered to you just about anywhere in Chicagoland, and that’s just how it should be for true-blue Chicago cuisine like this.
Cameo Pizza has eight locations in the neighborhoods of Northwest Ohio, and since 1936 the family owned business has served up pizzas for local townsfolk with a real small-town charm. The different locations seem to have different dining and delivery hours, but in Put In Bay, people seem to know it as the only late night food option.
Ritzy and upscale, La Piazza Pasta and Grill is an Italian eatery with a concept for the finer things. The Troy, Ohio restaurant is far from the busy downtown Dayton markets and consumers, but this I-75 corridor town has a lot of charm on its own. La Piazza is certainly among Troy’s crown jewels, it’s got a seriously delicious and unique take on Italian food and it’s a must-try if you’re hungry for some local culture. La Piazza’s got a lot going for it; it’s got a bar and an outdoor porch; prime real estate at the very center of town.
Mellow Mushroom is not your typical restaurant chain. With 100 locations across 15 states, the franchise seems to have all the trappings of a corporate food factory. But this chain breaks the mold of the standard line. Founded in 1974 by college students, Mellow Mushroom maintains an air of nonconformity — every Mellow Mushroom is a sports bar specializing in pizza, but beyond that, every single location has a radically different menu catering to the local cuisine. I should note I’ve reviewed the Nashville, Tennessee location as well.
Established in 1999, Giammarco’s has recently set up shop at a brand new location in Westerville, Ohio, just northeast of Columbus. It’s classy, it’s contemporary, and it provides a real culinary challenge to the chain restaurants down the street in serving up masterfully done Italian food to locals and travelers of the busy Interstate 71 corridor. Giammarco’s has a mantra of fresh ingredients and simple dishes anyone would recognize as Italian food. It’s a resounding success; this restaurant knows how to make a good dish. In fact, it’s the best Italian food I’ve had in Columbus.
Since at least 2002, Romeo’s Pizza has been winning awards for its tasty pizza as it has slowly expanded to all of the major cities across Ohio. Now, with about 30 locations, Romeo’s seeks to become a local household name, and accolades have continued to pour in from local media. A new alternative to the big pizza delivery chains is here, and they’ve got more on the menu than pizza.
Right at the crux of Woodman and Dorothy Lane, at the site of a former tex-mex chain, Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen has a suburban charm to it; the tiny restaurant has a variety of customers young and old who come through for dinner. Owner Jimmy Troni espouses 35+ years in business on his website, and the reviews on other websites generally note a good place to eat. Maybe I just have dumb luck, maybe I picked the wrong things to try, but three dishes later I’m not convinced, unfortunately. While I do like the atmosphere, the food itself really fails to deliver.
If you’ve lived in Dayton for any amount of time, odds are you’ve heard of Mama DiSalvo’s.
The Italian eatery in Kettering’s central suburbs opened in 1979, the product of “Mama” Elena DiSalvo, her husband Rinaldo, and their family. The family claims a heritage from Italy’s western Abruzzo and Molise regions, and the family has kept its recipes as traditional as possible — made from scratch using imported ingredients and all the love an Italian family can muster — a lot. You may wait a long time for your food, but the entire experience will be very, very worth it.