26 April 2011

New York Pizza Department

New York Pizza Departmentis a by-the-slice pizza joint at the South Campus Gateway. They also offer pizza shop staples that include pasta, salad, sandwiches and fried appetizers.

Prices at NYPD are inexpensive. There is seating for 50-plus inside the dining room.

There is New York style pizza, Sicilian pan and Chicago deep dish pizza at NYPD. The New York pizza was true to style, while the deep dish was about as close to Chicago style as St. Louis.

The New York plain cheese slice was delicately thin. It was a good slice, and two slices for $3.98 makes a pretty filling lunch.

The Chicago style spinach pizza was more like a hand-held lasagna than Chicago deep dish. While the ricotta cheese adds a nice layer of flavor to the spinach, it seems out of place in a deep dish pizza and more at home in lasagna.

The Greek salad was prepared in the Michigan style (i.e. with pickled beets). Romaine and iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, kalamata olives, beets and crumbled feta cheese came with a standard issue Greek salad dressing.

Overall, the New York pizza at NYPD is superior to the faux-Chicago pie. Low prices might still keep them busy.

New York Pizza Department

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21 April 2011

Third and Hollywood

Third and Hollywood is the high-end upgrade of the Northstar Cafe concept in Grandview. The menu is very accommodating to vegetarians much like Northstar.

The kitchen is open to the dining room. The dining room is accented with brick and dark wood.

Almost all of the side dishes and starters on the lunch menu are vegetarian, and many of the dinner starters are as well. Choices include cheddar biscuits, guacamole, grilled artichokes, a mixed green salad, a green bean salad, fries and a variety of vegetable sides.

The cheddar biscuits are absolutely divine. They are drenched in butter with flecks of cheese littered about the pillowy biscuit. They come in orders of three and six, and they would make a delicious meal by themselves.

The green bean salad came in a light dressing with roasted potatoes, herbs and cheese. It was an understated and delicate use of fresh ingredients.

The Mexican vegetable plate had black beans and rice, a pile of corn-spiked guacamole and grilled multicolored peppers topped with crumbled queso blanco. The dish was flavorful, running from smokey to savory to creamy. The peppers were soft and well cooked, and the cheese crumbles sweetened them up even more.

Third and Hollywood has a veggie burger. Like Northstar Cafe, it's on the expensive side ($14). While some people find these prices to be excessive for a veggie patty, considering the quality of the Northstar burger, it's probably worth a shot.

The bar at Third and Hollywood has a great selection of wine, beer and cocktails. The dessert menu is pecan pie, lemon tart and after dinner drinks.

Third and Hollywood

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14 April 2011

Commonwealth Sandwich Bar

Commonwealthis a new deli located in the No Man's Land between the Short North and South Campus. The menu features sandwiches, salads, soup and fries.

There are a number of house-made accoutrements, like garlic jalapeƱo pickles, that add an extra kick to the salads and sandwiches at Commonwealth. The kegged sodas by Boylan were awesome, with diet cola that had a sweet fruity finish. Other flavors include root beer, cola and grape soda.

There are three meatless sandwiches at Commonwealth. The (Young) Elvis Lives is made with spicy coconut peanut butter, cream cheese and bananas. The classic cheese and tomato sandwich comes alone or accompanied by tomato bisque.

I sampled A Few of My Favorite Things. Thinly sliced pickles, tomatoes and red onions are paired with Swiss and Gorgonzola cheese, drizzled in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette and served on a subtle yet stout Italian-style bread.

Although the fries come as a 1-pound order, they are also available in half-pound size when added to a sandwich and a drink combination for $4. The sweet potato fries were good. The chipotle aioli didn't pack the punch expected from a condiment with this fiery nomenclature.

There are vegan options at Commonwealth. The best plan is to take cheese out of one of the sandwiches, order salads or alert the staff to your dining needs and see if they have any better ideas.

The storefront at Commonwealth is small. Business is designed mostly for take-out or dine-in at the adjacent Village Idiot.

Commonwealth Sandwich Bar

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12 April 2011

Global Gallery

Global Gallery Coffee Shop currently houses Earth's Crust and the Krazy Monkey Juice Bar. Earth's Crust also makes appearances as a food cart during the warmer months, but for now, you have to go to Clintonville to enjoy the organic whole grain pizzas and smoothies.

Earth's Crust offers vegan and vegetarian pizzas, and Krazy Monkey whips up fresh fruit smoothies in a variety of flavor combinations with your choice of juice bar add-ons. The smoothies are thick and loaded with great ingredients.

The vegan pesto pizza had toasted pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes. There were layers of flavor in the crust. There are pizza specials available on Friday nights.

Earth's Crust and the Krazy Monkey were written up recently at CMH Gourmand and in Columbus Alive. Vegetarians, vegans and environmentally conscious foodies should definitely check these operations out.

Earth's Crust and Krazy Monkey Juice Bar
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05 April 2011

Tristano's Pizzeria

As a former resident of the Windy City, I often get wistful about Chicago style pizza. So I was very excited to find out that Grove City had a family-owned pizza shop called Tristano's that specializes in stuffed crust pizza, my favorite version of the famous Chicago pizza pie.

First, a little background on what distinguishes Chicago pizza from pizza in other areas: the most famous pizza from Chicago is traditionally more substantial than Italian pizzas or New York pizzas. Where these pizzas come on thin crusts that run the gamut from soft to crispy and cracker-like, Chicago pizza is a different animal entirely.

There are three distinct styles of pizza that fit in the Chicago pizza category. The most famous is the deep dish pizza. It is a thick crust pizza piled high with cheese, toppings and sauce. Some of the most famous pizza shops like Pizzeria Uno , Lou Malnati's, Gino's East and Pequod's serve mountains of deep dish pizza to tourists, and Pizzeria Uno has locations in a number of states including Ohio. Other than Uno, other local purveyors of deep dish pizza include Wholly Joe's, Fabian's (whose style is called pan pizza, a deep dish style with cheese and topping on top of the pie rather than sauce) and B.J.'s Brewing.

The second style is Chicago style thin crust pizza. It is different in every way from deep dish pizza. It is a kissing cousin to the tavern cut pizza that is found throughout Ohio at places like Donato's as the pie is cut into tiny squares. The crust is made with corn meal, and it is also dusted with dry cornmeal before it is cooked. Most of the major chains that sell deep dish pizza also sell thin crust pizza (i.e. Lou Malnati's). One of my favorite thin crust pizza places in the Chicago area is Barnaby's, which, although it is an Indiana chain, nonetheless nails the style.

My favorite style of Chicago pizza, however, is the stuffed crust pizza. It has nothing in common with the crap that shares its name at Pizza Hut. It is related to deep dish pizza in much the same way that David Eckstein is related to Barry Bonds. Both were baseball players; one is small, while the other is busting at the seams. Unlike pan pizza, stuffed crust has two layers of dough. It also has a greater amount of cheese and toppings than deep dish pizza. Some famous examples of stuffed crust pizza in the City of Big Shoulders include Nancy's, Giordano's and my absolute favorite, Edwardo's Natural Pizza.

Tristano's makes both thin crust and stuffed crust Chicago style pizza. With my bias laid out for all to see, I obviously ordered a stuffed crust pizza.

The crust of the pizza at Tristano's appeared to be well done, but the char actually added a hint of smokiness that gave the pizza a layered flavor. The crust lacked some of the buttery qualities that are a hallmark of this type of pizza in Chicago. The sauce was bright, fresh and very much in the Chicago style, augmented by the generous heap of cheese and mushrooms, peppers and onions. The pizza isn't an exact replica of Chicago stuffed crust pizza, but its a close enough approximation to make it worth a visit. Despite its minor shortcomings, Tristano's makes tasty stuffed crust pizza.

Tristano's also has the typical salads and appetizers that come from most pizza shops. Considering the caloric nature of stuffed crust pizza, these items are an extraneous part of the overall experience.

Tristano's Chicago Pizza House

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