WTGW 10/16/19: DeLuca’s Pizza Pub, Green

Standard

Friends, if you will, indulge us for a moment for a story.

Once upon a time a group of food testing friends came across a bar that had everything they were looking for. There were drinks. There was food. And there was a lot of fun with some new friends, which culminated in a far later night out than folks of their age should likely indulge in, but that’s neither here nor there.

And they rejoiced.

I mean, doesn’t that look like fun?

It should also be noted that we only really know about four people in all of those photos.

The name of this magical place was Howie’s. It was situated next to a lake, the likes of which they didn’t see that evening because it was a chilly spring evening, and, well, occasionally this group makes smart choices.

But they vowed to return.

And they did, once or twice, on a few weekends and one particular 4th of a July.

But then the place closed. And they were sad for taking its existence for granted.

But wait! Thanks to the power of social media, it was learned that the owners opened a new place! A pizza pub, in nearby Green, called Deluca’s Pizza Pub.

An anxious wait followed, carefully watching social media for the eventual opening and the rave reviews that followed.

And so the group finally went to check it out. And discovered … well … first and foremost, that it was really difficult to find. Because the plaza lacks signage and lighting and, well, basically the look of actually being a habitat for real human life of any sort. Maybe we should work on making the theme more “great place to come eat” and less “we’re suffering from a permanent power outage,” no?

But beyond that observation, the next thing that became blatantly obvious was, well, it’s not Howie’s. Which is not to say it’s bad … but, well, it’s not Howies.

Read on …

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, pizza? Duh.

But first, ALL THE BREAD AND OIL. Like seriously, entire wheat fields were sacrificed to bring this spread to our table this evening.

Yes, that’s three orders of bread and oil on one table. Because who needs variety? And also:

Ok, now that we’re past that, let’s move on to the pizzas, since that is the specialty here after all. They have all sorts of specialty flavored pizza, but they for the most part are all NY style. So it you’re looking for deep dish, this is probably not your scene.

Shane got his own pizza – the Wise Guy – because, well, see the photo above.

For clarity’s sake, this is a 10 inch pizza. Which we all took one look at upon arrival and knew would barely be enough for Shane alone, so fortunately I was wise enough to order my own meal.

Cassi and Jason got the much larger Meatball pizza to share.

That’s more like it.

Cassi also got a side salad.

Ted got a pizza he made himself with toppings, not a specialty one. Well, by “made himself” I mean he picked out the toppings, not that he actually went back into the kitchen and cooked it himself – which I would think is obvious, but just clarifying. I mean, could you imagine the outrage? We got bent out of shape when we had to go up and order our own food last week, let’s not even talk about what kind of world it would be if they expected us to enter the kitchen and cook something.

Anyway.

He chose sausage, pepperoni and meatballs. It had minimal cheese, by the server’s admission because of all the meats covering it. To which we all replied in a resounding chorus that that’s exactly how Ted likes it.

I got a calzone with mushrooms and sausage, and a side salad

THE VERDICT

So overall, taste-wise, everything was good. The flavors in the pizza and the calzone were both delicious. The dough especially was amazing, and you could tell it’s all fresh made – even without the note in the menu mentioning the lack of freezers or fryers in the back kitchen. In fact, if all four pieces could’ve been as doughy as the end two slices I might not have been able to hold myself back from eating the whole thing and getting rolled out the back door to the parking lot.

Which, fortunately is shrouded in darkness so at least no one would’ve seen. Maybe we’ve cracked the code on this while lighting situation after all.

Admittedly Shane was somewhat disappointed that the pizzas were thin crust, because he would’ve rather enjoyed the doughier version. Or at least probably been less hungry when we left.

Our bounty of bread and oil was arguably the best part of the meal. Props to the server who told us to smash the garlic cloves into the oil rather than out previous method of attempting to eat them an entire clove at a time. And the bread was really flavorful. While it didn’t soak up the oil entirely, the taste of the bread alone made up for that. It was like those pita crisp crackers turned into a full piece of bread.

Cassi liked her salad so much that she claimed she wanted them to pack her a salad for tomorrow’s lunch. Oh, hey, thank you to-go menu. That worked out well.

But in particular the cheese on the salad was amazing. You could tell it was fresh, not packaged from the Market District grocery down the street.

And the homemade sausage in my calzone was to die for.

So, if you’re following along here, so far on taste one we’re giving DeLucas a five-thumbs-up rating.

But here are our biggest issues with the place, and the reason for us saying it’s not Howie’s – and it won’t get the stellar overall rating that we gave that place. For one, the atmosphere. Look, I get the reasoning behind wanting to make the move from rowdy “let’s all do shots at 7PM” waterfront bar to classier pizza pub where mixed drinks are called “handcrafted cocktails” and seasonal pumpkin cider is served on draft.

But, well, this leap may just be a little too much for this particular area. I mean, let’s look around … by 7:30PM, we were literally the only people in the place that couldn’t walk into the kitchen without being told we didn’t belong there.

Which may dovetail into our second issue … price. I mean, we get the whole fresh-made thing. And we both enjoy and appreciate that. But, well, paying $14 for a just a step above personal pan pizza and $6 for a draft cider was a little bit disheartening. Maybe in NYC that flies, but not in Green, Ohio.

So chances are that as much as we may have enjoyed the pizzas and other bread and cheese products here … we won’t be sitting here a few years from now retelling the story of how much we love Deluca’s. At least not in the same way we loved Howie’s, anyway.

*sigh*

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 12/27/17: Dewey’s Pizza, Fairlawn

Standard

‘Twas the week between Christmas and New Years, and once again it’s Ted’s pick. And once again he takes us to a busy place near the mall in Fairlawn. Anyone remember last year when we tried visiting two different new places, only to find them both full of holiday celebrations .. and finally ending up at the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet down the road?

Yeah, you may not, because I didn’t write a post for that evening. Mainly because I couldn’t keep up with the guys filling their plates in their seemingly never-ending quest to be full of sushi.

So instead this year we get to witness their never-ending quest to be full of pizza. The only thing Shane may like more than sushi in this entire huge world of food.

Spoiler alert: at one point in our evening at Dewey’s our group of five adults had four pizzas and a calzone on the table in front of us. No, we don’t overindulge when we eat. No way.

And before anyone points it out, yes, we get the irony of Ted being the one to pick a place that specializes in things covered in or filled with cheese. He did this to us last year with Melt, too. I think it’s his way of keeping us on our toes. Or maybe we really are running out of places to pick after 3+ years of doing this.

Anyway.

The wait at Dewey’s actually wasn’t too long when we arrived, and I think the fact that we had to wait at all had more to do with us being a large group of five in a place that’s pretty small for a local chain restaurant. It’s set up pretty similar to the ones in the Cleveland area, but this one is kind of like dollhouse sized compared to their regular adult sizes.

I’m not sure why they have a bar at the back of this one, either. Seems like wasted space where they could’ve – I don’t know – put more tables. Or something. Just a thought. I mean, you only serve like six craft beers and some select wines, do you really need a horseshoe of barstools around the cooler? Are people seriously just saying “Hey, let’s pop into Dewey’s and get one of these six beers that I’ve really been craving today?” Or are there people out there who can’t enjoy alcohol and food unless they actually sit at a bar to partake in it?

So. Many. Questions.

On the topic of poor design … so originally our group ended up being crammed into a booth, I believe maybe just for the sake of seating us and getting our orders in since pizza can take a hot minute to prepare. Or maybe we looked like the type that would cause trouble in the waiting area if left alone for too long. Who knows. But I think as soon as the server heard our order of enough food to feed an entire youth football team, she knew this seating arrangement wasn’t going to be a good fit. Or rather a fit at all. Simple math tells you that four pizzas that are each 11 inches or larger do not fit on a booth table. Hell, we barely even fit in the booth ourselves – as it was Ted was moored to the end of the table by a single chair. We joked that he might have to set up his dinner on the stack of high chairs off to his right. Because that seems appealing.

It was also about a billion degrees in that corner. Or maybe it was just the body heat of all of us crammed in there. I mean, I appreciate a tropical island temperature as much as the next person, but not when I’m dressed for the -10 wind chill that is NE Ohio in late December.

In any case, we enjoyed our first round of beers on this, our own little tropical oasis, as well as mine and Cassi’s peppercorn ranch side salads that we ordered as appetizers. Or, rather, one large salad that we ended up splitting after the server suggested it would be cheaper for us to just to that than get our own individuals. Good call. I appreciate frugality. Especially when we’re on this tropical vacation and all.

I promise this is the last photo of anything healthy you’ll see on this post

Hey, a bigger table opened up! So what if maybe the server had to obviously stare down another large group, or inconspicuously whisper to them that they would offer up a handful of gift certificates to make them leave and make room or us, since the laws of physics weren’t going to allow us to eat in our current situation without one of us placing their meal on the floor. I can only say that I’m somewhat surprised we didn’t topple our current table as we all jumped to our feet at once as soon as another server arrived at our table and announced that we could move if we wished.

Let’s just say that was a true blessing, because this new, larger table still came close to almost causing one of us to eat out of our laps. I mean, we could probably create one of those math word problems just to figure out the exact size of our table (“If five people order four pizzas and they cover the entire width of the table, how large must the table and the pizzas be if the sizes can only be 11, 13 and 17 inches?”) But I don’t like math, so we won’t go there.

A nice feature of Dewey’s is that they have an entire menu of specialty pizzas, and you can split any pizza in half, no matter the size, so that you can try a few different specialty pizzas at once. Or plausabily split one pizza with a larger group who may disagree on what they want to order. But we wouldn’t know anything about that theory. Obviously.

So with all those options, it makes total sense that Ted got a full Don Corleone pizza. Just one kind for all 13 inches. No splitsville for him. At least he’s definitive.

Ted and his meat pie. Wait, that sounds bad

Jason got the half southwest BBQ and half Bronx Bomber. His was a 13 inch as well.

I guess I lied before. Here’s a few more vegetables.

Not wanting to play favorites on who would be his “food soul mate” for this trip, Shane chose half of his as the Don Corleone, and half Bronx Bomber. So if you’re following along, that’s half of half of Jason’s and half of Ted’s.

Wait, I think we’ve seen these already

Remember that whole thing I mentioned about being able to split pizzas when people at the same table want the same order?

This also explains why all of our pizzas look somewhat similar. Trust me, I’m trying to keep up, too.

Well, OK, so you can tell which one is Shane’s pizza because someone (read: me) convinced him to get the 17 inch. You know, the largest one. For himself.

This is what good wives do, people. Take notes.

Cassi got the 11 inch half porky fig and half caprice. Hers is the baby pizza on the table.

Look at all that cheese. It’s probably good this was on the complete opposite side of the table from Ted.

Meanwhile I got a calzone with pepperoni, mushrooms and banana peppers. Partially because even though – as I’ve already stated – I don’t do math, my numbers-hating brain could deduce that another pizza was not fitting on this table.

Still dough and cheese – just in a more compact form

We all agreed everything was good. Perhaps the best praise of the night was when Ted said it was “one of the better pizzas he’s ever had.” And that’s even with cheese, people. *gasp* Of course he had to refute the cheese comment by saying that there was so much meat on the pie and it pretty much overpowered anything else … so there’s that. Loopholes.

Although he later changed his story, and claimed this was actually “in his Top 5 pizzas.” Not that he really knows what other ones would be on that list, though, since we all know this isn’t exactly his favorite meal. Maybe he just felt like Shane shouldn’t be the only one holding court in the list market.

You can also judge our fondness for a place by how much we leave on our plates at the end of the night. In this case, all but one of us were all winners of clean plate awards for the evening. Jason was the first to finish his whole pizza. Cassi was going to save one slice of hers, but once Jason finished his off and there wasn’t going to be a take home box she just decieded to eat her last one and save the need. Ted also accepted the challenge and ate his whole pizza. But the last two slices were tough, and probably should’ve gone home with him.

Shane was the odd man out, taking four pieces of his pizza home for later. That couldn’t at all be because someone convinced him to get the larger size or anything. Nope.

It was about the time that they were clearing away our plates that I looked over and noticed another group of five at a table not far from us being delivered one 17 inch pizza for them all to share. Um, really? ONE pizza? They’re clearly amateurs.

I think the place has potential – but unlike the other Dewey’s up in Cleveland, this one seems pared down a little and definitely caters to the “we’re shopping at the mall and want pizza but not from the food court because I want to have a beer with it” crowd. The ambiance isn’t so great, either. Our tropical corner booth aside, it just seems a bit sterile and uninviting. There’s no memorable background music or sporting events on large TVs – and with a large open space that kind of makes it seem cavernous when it’s just snippets of conversations rising up to fill the air. It definitely has an air of “eat and get out,” not “hang out and have another beer” to it – which, again, is why the bar is a bit baffling. But the pizzas are good, and I would definitely think of them as an option for take out after a shopping trip or on the way home from work. Just don’t make me do the math to figure out how many will fit into my car comfortably.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Shane

Steph