WTGW 12/7/16: Tim’s Pizzeria & Pub, Cuyahoga Falls

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Wait, what’s this, two places in a row in our own backyard we haven’t been to yet? It’s like Christmas.

Also, we seem to be on an Italian kick now. First two weeks of Irish, now our second week of Italian. We seem to like themes all of a sudden.

Truth be told, unlike last week’s pick, we’ve probably driven past Tim’s Pizzeria about 4 billion times, and Shane has usually been the one to exclaim that eventually he was going to pick it. But it also looks just a tad on the sketchy side from the outside, so he was a little wary. I mean, it kind of looks like a house.

Although if you’ve been reading this blog then you know that’s actually right up Shane’s alley. And you also know that that’s burned us in the past (*ahem* that place in Solon *ahem*) so he has to be careful not to become labeled as the guy who picks crappy house diners.

Good thing this pick was nothing like that.

Our group was back to a threesome this week, as Amanda wasn’t feeling well and Jerrid decided to sit this week out. Welcome to winter and cold season in NEOhio.

We started out with dark beers for Shane and Ted – Guinness and Breckenridge Vanilla Porter – and Angry Orchard for me. There’s not a huge beer selection at Tim’s. But Shane loved the glasses, which seemed to spin on the table, so I guess that makes up for it?

Yes, he’s 12.

The place is known for its pizza. Bet you couldn’t guess that from the name, right? So of course pizza connoisseur Shane had to try that. But only after quizzing the server on the eggplant parm and if it was better than the specialty pizza he had in mind to order – the stuffed banana pepper pizza. She said both choices were good, but the pizza was one of their unique specialties.

Sold.

He also got calamari as an app. Because, Shane.

if it's on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

if it’s on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

I stuck to the same pattern as last week, rigatoni. But this time it was baked, which is really just code for “loaded with cheese.”

You’re speaking my language, Tim’s.

Plus I just like to gross Ted.

It also came with a bowl-of-cheese-they-call-a-salad (I’m pretty sure I could get used to these Italian places and their definition of healthy foods) and bread.

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

And I ordered an app of fried mushrooms. Because, me. And also because they were $2.95. I mean, how can you not?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, Ted got a little smorgasbord all for himself. He said he wanted to try a bunch of different things and couldn’t decide between them.

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

So he got a 4-cut pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. And the ravioli. And to his credit, he originally only wanted to order six of the garlic hot wings (because we’ve already established that someone has to order wings – I mean, why stop the streak now?) but the server told him that they only come in orders of 10. So he was like what the hell, go with it.

Such a team player.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Our server also got huge props, as we were doing our usual joking with Ted about his dislike of cheese, and the server piped in and offered to make his pizza without it. Wait, what? You can do that? Is it still technically a pizza without cheese?

So that's what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It's so ... naked.

So that’s what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It’s so … naked.

I’m so confused.

But Ted was super happy, so that’s all that matters.

The calamari was good, just not very flavorful. The mushrooms ended up being the big hit of the appetizer portion of the meal, though. I mean, Shane even really liked them – and he normally likes mushrooms the least of any fried veggie.

Deep fried deliciousness

Deep fried deliciousness

Ted said his pizza was good. And so were the wings. But the ravioli as just OK, he said it kinda tasted store bought. Probably could’ve done without that part of his meal, if he had to pick one thing on his whole side of the table to get rid of.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

Shane was in love with his stuffed banana pepper pizza. Like so in love that I almost got jealous. He said it was a great concept, definitely unique and super tasty. The crust was good, light but crispy. And the peppers were spicy … so, you know it’s a good thing he added more crushed red pepper before he even tasted it.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

The extra red peppers were actually Ted’s suggestion. Clearly he cares a lot about Shane.

The baked rigatoni was delicious. Worlds above last week’s pasta dish. It had good sauce and flavor, wasn’t over cooked – and the crap-ton of cheese certainly didn’t suck either. In fact, word of warning, I burned my tongue on the very first bite, as I couldn’t wait to dig in and forgot about all the heat that lives under that layer of cheese. But honestly I didn’t care. It was too delicious to wait.

This is like heaven

This is like heaven

Overall, Tim’s is a great spot. It had a really good atmosphere, they were playing fun older music – and it seemed like the crowd were a mix of a lot of regulars and a few newbies like us, but yet no one made us feel like we didn’t belong there. We also saw lots of carry out orders being picked up, so that’s something I think we all filed away for later use. We also noticed a sign on the wall that they’ll be having a Christmas party in a few weeks – on a Wednesday, no less, so that seems like it was made for us. We might have to hijack that WTGW pick and come back in for that one. But even if not then, we’ll definitely be back.

I mean, you can only keep Shane away from his new love for so long, right?

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Tim's Pizzeria & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 11/30/16: Retz’s Laconis, Cuyahoga Falls

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Watch out, after two weeks of Irish food we’re breaking our streak and moving on to a different ethnicity … Italian.

And we all laugh as we watch Ted’s face as he attempts to avoid cheese pitfalls. Oh the fun!

So I have to ask, for real, where has this place been these past three years? I mean, I thought we’d exhausted pretty much every bar/restaurant in our own little town – hence why we sometimes travel up to 40 minutes away for a new pick. Meanwhile little did we know Retz’s Laconis was lurking on some side street we’ve apparently never ventured down before. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle of WTGW.

Hmm.

Adding to that theory, Shane and I parked outside in the back lot, next to a particularly shady Suburban that both of us were fairly certain someone was living in. But it was gone when we came out later in the evening, so I guess not. Unless it was swallowed by the Triangle?

You never know.

Also seemingly lost: the front door. When a building is on a corner, it’s helpful to label the appropriate front side so you know which door to enter. We chose the first door we saw, a not very well labeled one which fortunately for us led directly into the bar where Jerrid, Amanda and Ted were waiting. We chose wisely. Had we picked door #2 around the corner we would’ve ended up in the dining room. I only know this because several people entered through the bar door looking to do the opposite of what we did. They were not as wise.

Amanda and Jerrid were there way early (surprise!) and had ordered the bacon ranch pizza as an app. They left us a few pieces to try, and we all agreed it was OK. The crust seemed like a frozen crust, not fresh made. And it was also a little too ranch-y – and, yes, smartasses, we know the name of the dish – but let’s just say the ranch overpowered the bacon. And bacon should never be second fiddle, am I right?

This appetizer didn't look like this by the time Shane and I arrived

This appetizer didn’t look like this by the time Shane and I arrived

But when you’re hungry, it did the trick, so there’s that.

Salads came with mine, Shane and Amanda’s meals, so naturally those arrived at our table first. Although let’s be clear, by “salad” we really just mean a pile of cheese with some lettuce underneath.

This has to be the most nutritious salad ever

This has to be the most nutritious salad ever

See also: Ted’s nightmare.

I got the rigatoni with meat sauce and meatballs.

Pasta, take one

Pasta, take one

Amanda got the baked cheese ravioli.

Pasta, take two

Pasta, take two

Shane got the eggplant parm, after his interrogation of the server revealed that it’s actually rolled in ricotta cheese and deep fried. Bingo! That’s like saying the secret password to Shane. Because deep frying anything can only make it better, right?

Exactly.

This is probably even healthier than that salad, no?

This is probably even healthier than that salad, no?

He also got an order of the garlic parm wings, because we can’t seem to go a week without someone ordering wings at our table.

Wings. What a surprise.

Wings. What a surprise.

He then also tried to order another app until I made fun of him.

Me: “And I’ll also take the whole left hand side of the menu please.”
Shane: “Never mind, I’m good.”

Ted got the acid wings. Because that sounds appetizing, no? And also a burger with no cheese. Because who cares that we’re at an Italian place. You know when you see items like that on the menu and think “who comes to an Italian place and orders a burger and wings?”

Ted. Ted does.

That's the most Italian looking hamburger I've ever seen.

That’s the most Italian looking hamburger I’ve ever seen.

Non-acidic wings

Non-acidic wings

Along those same lines, Jerrid got the dark chicken meal. Pasta is clearly overrated. See also: why all of our meals took forever to arrive. It’s like New Era all over again.

Where are we again?

Where are we again?

About this time when we were ordering we also noticed our server’s t-shirt, that boasted the place has the “best balls in the Falls.” Clever.

Unfortunately, though, I have to disagree. I thought my meatballs had absolutely zero taste. Same for my rigatoni. Maybe my taste buds took the night off, although the cheese on the salad and the bread tasted OK to me. As did the crap-ton of crushed red pepper and parm cheese that I added to the pasta. But the pasta and meat, no flavor whatsoever. Boo.

Ted said his acid wings were not overly hot. He may be the only person to ever say that. Maybe his taste buds were on strike along with mine.

He only ate his wings and fries, didn’t even touch his burger because he was too full. Which seemed odd until Jerrid pointed out Ted did have two Christmas Ales, so that was kind of like having another meal all in itself.

Point taken.

Jerrid liked the chicken, said it was better than New Era. And Amanda liked her raviloi.

Shane didn’t eat his wings because he was too full. Maybe he and Ted should stop ordering basically two entrees? Just an idea. But he did try one, though – I think mainly to see if he should even bother with the to-go box – and said it was good. He said the eggplant parm was “different, but OK.”

Overall Retz’s is an OK place for a little neighborhood restaurant and bar. The bar area is pretty small, so it’s gets a little crowded – but never so much that you feel like strangers are about to seat themselves at your table and start helping themselves to your food. Our server was good and attentive for the most part, the exception being when Amanda tried about 10 times unsuccessfully to get herself a water. But then Jerrid asked and it was delivered in a second. So I guess the moral is that if you’re female and ordering something non-alcoholic you might want to be prepared to wait a bit. Interesting.

Picked by: Jerrid
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Retz's Laconi's II Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 3/2/16: Brick Oven Brew Pub, Ellet

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I think Ted and I were unknowingly in a silent competition for who would pick this place first. I vaguely remember him mentioning a brick oven pizza place this past summer, but if I’m not mistaken that turned out to be one of the first nice evenings of the season – and thus we ended up at a patio in the Valley instead. Then I came across it in my searches for new places, and considered it … but the combination of knowing they only serve beer and having a husband who’s prone to rum-and-diet binges didn’t fare well for me to make that pick.

And so the ball fell back into Ted’s court. Which, to his credit, he mentioned that the person who suggested Brick Oven Brew Pub to him as one of our picks did warn him that they don’t have air conditioning … and since the food is made via a giant wood fired brick oven, you can guess how comfortable that might be on a 90+ degree day. Thus why he had to pick it while it was still 30 degrees outside, lest we wait for next winter to roll around.

Upon arriving at BOBP I can completely see how it would be about nine billion degrees in there on a hot summer’s day. The place is literally a small storefront space in a plaza just off the street, and at least half of the space is completely taken up with the giant brick oven and the beer brewing machines. So that leaves one tiny area for tables. Actually, I’m not sure tiny even is the best word to describe the space. Minuscule? Minute? Microscopic? I think you get the idea. I mean, I didn’t count, but if I had to guess I would say there were like 12 or 14 two-top tables configured within the room to accommodate anywhere from dates of two to parties of six.

I’ll let you do the math on just how many people you can feed at one time based on those numbers. Because, well, I’m the writer. We don’t do math in my circles.

Luckily Amanda and Jerrid got there first and let them know we’d be a party of five. So we didn’t have to wait too long for a table – but they did kind of have to rearrange things to make room for us with the other parties that were already dining.

So the takeaway here is if you have a large party, this may not be the place for you to spend an evening. Even if you are good at math.

There’s also a small area partitioned off at the back of the space with a few high tops and some stools at … well .. it’s really not a bar, it’s more like a counter. You could call it a bar only because it faces the beer taps. But, yeah, it’s a counter. I think I’ve seen more dedicated bar space in people’s basements.

So there’s that.

As mentioned, the place brews their own beer. And there’s not a huge selection – I think it changes from time to time, and they may have a few seasonals that appear at different times also. But the night we were there they had four on tap: Cream Ale, Black IPA, German Witte, and Oatmeal Stout.

We started off all with a round of the lightest one, the cream ale. Well, except I-always-have-to-be-different-Ted, who went the complete opposite end to the dark side and got the oatmeal stout. I was intrigued by the description of it … you know, the usual “hints of coffee and chocolate” – which make it sound absolutely delightful – until you get handed something that actually tastes like motor oil and vinegar.

But I asked to try Ted’s when it arrived, and was pleasantly surprised. For once those descriptions actually didn’t lie. There really were hints of coffee and chocolate. And it was very smooth. I approved. And was actually torn between which one I liked better – the lighter cream ale, or the oatmeal stout.

Ted, of course, was incredibly proud.

Since there was success with two of the four beers, for the next round both Ted and I opted for the $5 flight – which is a smaller sampler glass of all four beers. And again, pleasantly surprised. We kind of passed them all around a little to let everyone try, and the opinion was pretty much the same: we liked all of them except the Black IPA. It wasn’t awful – a bit bitter starting out, but no aftertaste like a lot of other IPAs have. Ted said the same – it wasn’t his favorite, but it was better than some of the other IPAs he’s had at other craft breweries. The Witte was also really good, it was a bit citrusy and also very light like the Cream Ale.

Light, dark, repeat

Light, dark, repeat

So the consensus on the alcohol side of things: three out of four beers we would order without hesitation. I’d consider that a win.

I think the guys all had their hearts set on the deep dish pizza, until I pointed out on the menu where it said it was an hour wait. Um, yeah, never mind. Another time maybe.

So instead we ended up with two Sicilian regular crust pizzas, one Sicilian thin crust pizza, and a Supreme regular crust pizza. They really do have more options than that – but, well, I guess the rule about ordering something different for the sake of trying a bit of everything kind of went out the window somewhere in these past 2.5 years.

Four pizzas for five people? Seems totally reasonable.

Four pizzas for five people? Seems totally reasonable.

Shane ordered first and got the large Sicilian on a thin crust – for himself.

Me: well I guess we aren’t sharing then, thanks honey.

So I got the small Supreme. Just for me. Take that.

One of these things is not like the other

One of these things is not like the other

Jerrid and Amanda shared the large Sicilian regular crust (see, they can share), and Ted also got the same thing just for himself.

The popular pizza choice of the evening.

The popular pizza choice of the evening.

For appetizers – because I guess we thought entire pizzas wouldn’t be enough food … oh, wait, it’s us, that makes total sense – Jerrid and Amanda also got cheese sticks, and Shane and I got the dough sticks, which are essentially just pieces of their dough rolled into sticks and fired in the oven. We were really happy with them – while they weren’t as soft and “pillowy” as some places we’ve tried, they weren’t hard as a rock either. Balance is good.

Oh look, a plate of carbs. Yippee!

Oh look, a plate of carbs. Yippee!

Ted's favorite meal! Ha.

Ted’s favorite meal! Ha.

None of us ordered the stromboli, but we noticed that another couple at a table near us (which, really, means they were practically sitting with us, given the size of the place) each got one, and they looked delicious. And huge. Not that one place in Kent where the waitress looked at Amanda and I like we were crazy for each ordering a large one for ourselves kind of huge – but still really big nonetheless.

Everyone really liked the pizza here at BOBP. It had good flavor, good sauce, and just enough on the toppings without going overboard.

Ted actually said he liked the pizza so much, he said he would put it in his Top Five. Wow. I mean, if you follow us enough then by now you realize just how much of a compliment that is.

The only Debbie Downer of the bunch was Shane. Mr. Garlic King himself actually said it was TOO garlicky for him. Wait, what? I didn’t realize such a thing existed. I mean, this is the guy who orders French fries and wings that are soaked in garlic, which actual cloves on the top. I’m half surprised he hasn’t asked a place yet to just deep fry a bulb of garlic and serve it to him. But yet this pizza was “too much.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong – he still ate it. He just thought it was a bit much. Hmm.

Pizza, artistic style

Pizza, artistic style

Maybe it was the alcohol, or just because everyone other than me had the garlic pizza and had to cleanse their palates, but when Jerrid noticed the note on the specials chalk board for “S’mores dessert pizza” we all jumped on it like it was the next rendition of sliced bread. Shane and I got one to take home, as did Amanda and Jerrid.

Did someone say dessert to go?

Did someone say dessert to go?

We actually tried a slice each when we got home … and I have to say that we were not very impressed. I feel like this pizza was their rendition of the tricky beer descriptions – the S’mores pizza sounded and looked so much better than how it actually tasted. We agreed that it was actually the crust that ruined it for us. The toppings were good … but they put them on the same crust as what they use for all of the pizzas at BOBP. Which is good for actual pizza … but for dessert pizza, you almost need like a graham cracker crust, or cookie crust, or cinnamon … something other than just plain dough with some chocolate sauce and melted marshmallows on it. Boo.

But other than that, all in all, Brick Oven Brew Pub was a win for our group. The beers were good – for being home brewed, they were all very smooth and definitely easily drinkable. And the pizzas – while it’s a bit of a wait to get them to the table – are definitely worth it. It would be great to see them expand their dining facilities so that you don’t have to wait forever for a table for a group of more than two people – I mean, we were there on a Wednesday, and it was packed (well, “packed” for a place that only serves … well, whatever number you math geniuses came up with earlier in this post) – so I can’t imagine how it is on a Friday or Saturday. I mean, if it’s a really cold night, could you just get the special “inside the oven” seating maybe? Asking for a friend.

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Shane, the only downer of the group

Shane, the only downer of the group

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  So, if you don’t like beer you’re out of luck. Although with a name that ends in “brew pub” you should probably have known this already.
Food: Likewise, if you don’t like Italian food – primarily pizza or stromboli – your review of this place will be vastly different than ours.
Service: I think perhaps our table was probably one of the neediest – at least in terms of alcohol – that they’ve seen for a bit … but they kept up well. And by “they” I mean the one person working all the tables.
Overall: Great little place. But if you’re anything more than a party of two it the size of the place lends itself more to just getting a few pizzas and a growler to go.

Next Pick: Jerrid

Brickoven Brewpub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

WTGW 1/6/16: Danny Boy’s, North Canton

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Happy New Year!

And what better way to just basically continue the food-and-drink-fest-that-is-the-holiday-season than by hitting up an Italian restaurant with huge portions and potent drinks? We know how to live, folks. I mean, until we all die of heart attacks, liver damage and high cholesterol, that is. Yay cheese and carbs!

So, yes, the first WTGW of 2016 takes us to the North Canton location of Danny Boy’s. There are actually four other locations in the Cleveland/Akron area – Rocky River, Chesterland, Sandusky and Broadview Heights. Their website says the chain started at the Rocky River location in 1991 – which shocked the hell out of me, because the interior of the North Canton location seemed to be dated well before that time. I mean, it’s not quite Gus’s Chalet … but it’s also not the sports bar they appear to be on some of the photos on their website by any means.

(Gotta be sure to start out the new year with our weekly digs at good ole Gus’s Chalet. It just doesn’t seem right otherwise)

But seriously, the place is way smaller on the inside than I thought it would be – both from the photos online and also just from the outside of the building. It’s like you walk in expecting a large dining room and separate bar area … and what you get instead is a room divided down the middle by a short wall and a glass partition, with the dark bar area on one side, and an even darker dining room on the other. Cozy. So, I wonder, what are they using all the space in the back of the building for? I mean, unless the kitchen is the size of a small yacht, I have to think there’s some giant dance floor/gym area back there that the staff is using between orders.

Also, if you don’t like the ambiance of Sinatra music with your meal, you might want to dine elsewhere. Or bring headphones.

Anyway, Danny Boy’s is known for their pizza and Italian food – but keep in mind that they menu is far more than that. Like 18 pages more than that. In the mood for calzones or stromboli? Got it. A big salad? Yep. Sandwiches, subs and appetizers? Sure thing. Burgers or ribs? No worries. Something called a “Woogie Melt”? Yeah, I have absolutely no idea what that is, but it’s on the menu.

Eventually I think we all got to the point where we were just kind of flipping the pages aimlessly and figured we would just point to an entree on whatever page we were resting on when the server next came to our table.

Amanda and Jerrid had gotten there early and had a drink and appetizer at the bar before the rest of us arrived, then just migrated to a nearby larger table in the same area once we got there. They had started with Captain and cokes for drinks … which Jerrid promptly switched away from after Shane ordered a Long Island and Jerrid saw it was served in a “cool” mason jar. It was like a repeat of Rush Hour Grille.

Jerrid finally gets his drink in a mason glass

Jerrid finally gets his drink in the cool kids glass

Ah, bromance.

Ted also started with Captain and coke, until it occurred to him that they were super tasty and he would drink them too fast … and since he was our driver and we were a good half hour from home then maybe wasn’t the best plan. Smart guy, that one. He switched to beer, even though the primarily domestic non-craft beer list was somewhat difficult for him to navigate. Because we all know Ted doesn’t enjoy Miller Lite.

We started out with an order of breadsticks for the table … which, let’s be honest here, these things they call bread sticks are more like bread pillows. And they were heavenly. Shane’s comment was that they’re “just the right kind of soft dough.” Whatever that means. All it translates to me is that I could eat just a full plate of these if left alone with them. Delicious.

Heavenly little bread pillows

Heavenly little carb-and-butter-laden pillows

For our meals, it was the tale of two orders at our table: the pizzas vs the pastas. It’s like the Jets vs the Sharks, but without the music. Or stellar choreography.

Representing the pizzas we had Shane with a NY style pizza with pepperoni and sweet red peppers, and Ted with a Chicago style deep dish.

On the pasta side, Amanda got the “Spotlight Peppers and Pasta,” I had the “Guys and Dolls Baked Penne,”and Jerrid got the “Old Blue Eyes Mac & Cheese.”

I think you’re probably sensing by now that the whole Sinatra theme goes far beyond the choice of music.

Sausage, peppers and pasta, oh my

Sausage, peppers and pasta, oh my

Carb and cheese overload

Carb and cheese overload

More pasta, different color

More pasta, different color

Everyone ended up being relatively happy with their orders. Ted for once got a pizza that he didn’t have to pick the cheese off the top of before consuming. Although the cheese does come baked on the inside of the pizza – a fact that at least he was aware of beforehand or else that first bite could’ve been ugly. He ended up taking about 1/3 of his pizza home with him, because a medium was way too much. And judging by the take home box that I lifted as we were walking out, I can’t say I blame him.

Ted finally gets his wish of a cheese-less pizza (on top anyway)

Ted – no cheese, this looks perfect!

Shane wasn’t as crazy about the sauce on his pizza – he likes a sweeter sauce, and this wasn’t that. But he still ate his entire medium pizza by himself. I’m not sure exactly what that says other than he was hungry and it’s still pizza, so he wasn’t going to waste it.

Now that's a pizza

Now that’s a pizza

And he was the only one without a to-go box when we left, as Amanda, Jerrid and I all took at least half of our meals home with us. It was all good – but it was like we each had some weird strain of regenerating pasta in our bowls that grew back as soon as we took a few bites. Seriously, after at least 20 minutes of eating it looked like we had just really been using our forks to mix things around in each of our bowls and not transporting any of the contents to our mouths.

I, mean, really – compare these to the pasta photos above.

I swear I was eating it. Honest.

Hmmm, seems very similar

Twenty minutes and umpteen forkfuls later ... and it looks like it was never touched.

It just won’t go away!

**update** Just a note, those left overs ended up being one large and two small meals for me after this trip. What? That means there are easily three to four portions served there. In one bowl. If anyone can finish that in one sitting I imagine a wheelbarrow is necessary to get them to the car afterwards. I’m not sure if I would be proud or horrified of that person. 

All in all Danny Boy’s was a good place for huge portions of Italian food … but just not the dining atmosphere we typically gravitate to. The service was OK – although, let’s face it, after last week’s inability to get beverages – or really attention of any kind – our server here really just had to show up more than twice all night and we would be impressed. They should thank Mason Jar for totally lowering our expectations.

But I do actually kind of wish there was a location closer to our house just so we could do carry out – with the huge menu and the amount of food you get for your money, I think this could easily become a go-to staple for quick no-hassle dinners. Or do you think we could convince them to just deliver us orders of bread pillows like once a week?

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Photobomb by Shane

Photobomb by Shane

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  While the beer list wasn’t overly impressive, the specialty cocktails were a hit at our table. Although, let’s be honest, after last week’s issues we were just happy to have beverages of any kind this time around. 
Food:
Come hungry. And bring 15 of your friends to help you eat one meal. I think Shane was the only one at the table who didn’t leave with a to-go box … because, well, Shane.
Service: Something else we were just happy to have at all after last week’s pick. Danny Boy’s should give a huge thank you nod to Mason Jar for making regular things like checking in a table seem awesome.
Overall: Another example of how one part of the place can kill it for a few people in the group. While the food was good and the service decent – the atmosphere at this location just wasn’t what a group like ours would return for.

Next Pick: Amanda

Danny Boys Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/15/15: Eldorado’s Pizza Pub, Kent

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So, we’re back in Kent, and it’s a place Ted hasn’t been to or picked yet. What’s this all about?

Honestly, Eldorado’s has been on both Amanda and Shane’s radar for a bit now – but neither of them wanted to pick it because they weren’t sure exactly where it was located. Until last week, as we were driving to Mike’s and Shane spotted it on a side street, tucked behind a gas station. Because that shouts slightly shady, but OK.

Let me clarify, Eldorado actually not shady at all – but at first glance, I can see how one would get that impression.

Anyway.

This time of year there’s a lot of places running these “Christmas in July” specials, and Eldorado’s is no exception. Which means that of course Ted went with the Christmas Ale on special. Just as predictably, Amanda and I ordered Summer Shandy. And Shane was elated to find a bar serving the Shock Top Summer Shandy, which he swears is better than the Leinenkugel that us girls enjoy so much.

And that, my friends, is what you call a group of happy alcoholics.

Eldorado’s is known for their stromboli, which definitely sounded delicious, so that’s the direction Amanda and I went with our orders. I got the meatball (Italian meatballs and provolone cheese), and Amanda ordered the All-American (pepperoni and sausage with shredded cheese). I’m not really sure how the cheese thing was different, except that mine seemed to have sauce on the inside of it, too. Which they didn’t mention on the menu. And was slightly weird – not to mention unfortunate for me since I don’t really care for sauce as much. Amanda’s on the other hand had more cheese and no sauce inside. So basically we should’ve swapped.

And not that we couldn’t have done so. Because – and here’s our PSA on this place … portions are HUGE, particularly for the stromboli. When you look at the menu, the size options are small, large, and extra large. Seems normal, no?

For the love of all things holy, only order the extra large if you intend to feed half the population of a small country. Or you want to be the poster child for the word “gluttonous.” Because Amanda and I each ordered a large size – one size smaller than the extra large – and I think just one of our meals would’ve been enough to feed the entire table. Well, if the entire table was just four people like me and Amanda anyway. Or maybe one Ted, or one Shane. You get the idea. Freaking huge.

It doesn't look so big until you realize that plate underneath is like 2ft across

It doesn’t look so big until you realize that plate underneath is like 2ft across

I mean, it’s embarrassing when for once the guys had less food on their side of the table. Yeah. For real.

Also embarrassing: seeing the two ladies at the table next to us sharing one small pizza, and then leaving with leftovers. Thanks for that.

Ted got the Wednesday special of a $5.00 small one item pizza. He chose pepperoni for his one item. And then he ordered a meatball sub – you know, on the side. Right. Because that’s what people order as a “side,” Ted. At least he passed on the fries.

That's a whole lot of cheese there, Ted

That’s a whole lot of cheese there, Ted

Reminder: he still had less food in front of him than either Amanda or me.

Shane ordered a NY style pizza with pepperoni, sausage and hot peppers. He was hoping to get a 16 inch, but was told that the NY style only comes in 12 inch. You could see obvious disappointment when the server informed him of this.

The entire table: Oh, that won’t be nearly enough food for you.

Needless to say, we kept a menu in case he needed to supplement his order later.

Meanwhile, on Shane's plate ...

Meanwhile, on Shane’s plate …

Our server – who was also the bartender – was seemingly shocked by the shear amount of food that would be arriving at our table shortly: “Boy, you’re all hungry, aren’t you?”

Now, in all fairness, she could’ve warned me and Amanda about the size of the stromboli. But I’m sure it was more fun for her to laugh at us from behind the bar. So, once again, thanks for that.

Luckily Shane never had to order more food, as I had enough stromboli to feed, well, everyone in the bar. I think Amanda and I made it through about a quarter of each of our meals before throwing in the towel. Which, honestly, was probably still a lesser portion than what the small size of that particular food works out to be, but whatever. It was really tasty, but just a lot of food. Even with Shane’s help, I think I’ll still be eating leftovers until next WTGW.

Hopefully Ted doesn’t pick Italian next week.

Seriously. How many cows were involved in the making of the cheese that went on this?

Seriously. How many cows were involved in the making of the cheese that went on this?

Amanda joked that she was so hungry she was going to eat all of it … ala the Merchant challenge from a while back – but backed down once money was put on the table. Smart woman. We also of course had to bring up the Belleria trip and how the boys ordered entire sheet pizzas each, and our friend and guest diner for the evening, Jenny, was utterly embarrassed to be seen with us.

Good times.

Shane thought the pizza was excellent. The sauce was sweet, which is right up his alley. He joked that since Ted works in Kent a lot he’ll need to start a delivery service just from this place to our house after work.

Ted, meanwhile, was busy for a bit picking off all of the cheese he forgot to request not be put onto his meatball sub. I think he’s been ordering the meatball splash sub at the aforementioned Belleria for so long now that he’s clearly forgotten that he actually has to specify. Once that task was finished, he got to work double-fisting the meatball sub and slices of pizza. Because why finish one first when you can mix flavors like that?

But he said they were both delicious, so the strategy must’ve worked.

All in all, the atmosphere was good at Eldorado’s, and other than the slight judgement we might’ve gotten for our food gluttony, we never felt like outsiders or newbies in a “regulars-only” kind of place. Our server was very nice, and very much on top of service – especially considering it was only her behind the bar to deal with bar patrons, table and patio … and people like us who clearly misunderstand portion sizes and make her carry party-sized platters out of the kitchen to our tables.

The music selection was somewhat of an enigma to us, though … it started with country (OK), then eventually we heard 80’s rock (still up our alley), then Lionel Ritchie (wait, what?), then something resembling show tunes (um, you’re losing us), then back to country. If one person was controlling those selections I think they might want to seek help for multiple personality disorder.

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Um, Shane?  I don't know what symbol that is.

Um, Shane? I don’t know what symbol that is.

Take two. Your guess is as good as mine.

Take two. Your guess is as good as mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  Decent draft selection, especially for a smaller bar. 
Food:
 It’s all Italian fare, so if you’re not in the mood for sauce and cheese it’s probably best to move on. And if I haven’t mentioned it enough already, the portions are huge. So come hungry. Or bring 20 of your closest friends. Whatever.
Service:  Very good. We appreciated her not openly mocking us for the amount of food that ended up on our table, and for keeping the beer coming to help us wash it down.
Overall: We’ll definitely be back, or at the very least requesting Ted pick up carry out orders before he returns home from the jobsite.

Next Pick:  Ted

 

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WTGW 10/22/14: Belleria, Kent

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Well hello there Kent, long time no see …

I have to admit, it felt a bit like like de ja vu for this week’s WTGW, between the drive into town and parking in the same garage as we did last week. With Ted spending some time working in the area right now, he’s apparently discovered a plethora of restaurants we haven’t visited yet. And because he can’t go to them for lunch until we’ve visited them as a group (at least if he still wants to keep it as a pick), I think it’s safe to say Ted has the Kent market covered for a little while.

Belleria is a bit hard to find – it’s tucked away on the upper level of buildings, with the entrance facing a fire escape type stairway and a teeny tiny parking lot. So I guess it’s a good thing Ted scoped it out ahead of time and could lead us right to the front door.

The restaurant is very bright on the inside, and the atmosphere is more of a family place than a college town pizza shop. In fact, I was kind of surprised they even serve alcohol.Although they don’t serve much of it – only a few on draft (Bud Lite, Yuengling, and a couple of Great Lakes specialites), domestics in bottles, and some wines.

We all went for the Miller Lite bottles – except, of course, for original Ted, who went with the Great Lakes Nosfuratu. Which is something none of us can even pronounce, much less drink. And to which we all joked “What did you order Ted? … Nostradamous? … God Bless You? … No Soup For You?” Because we’re 12.

Belleria bills itself as an Italian eatery, which it most definitely is. But they also have a very extensive menu, with everything from pizza to sandwiches to salads to pastas – so don’t rule the place out even if you aren’t actually in the mood for Italian food.

Case in point, the appetizer menu has selections seemingly from the county fair circuit. Ted got the fried zucchini sticks. Because, “that’s a vegetable, right?” Um, sure. Meanwhile, Shane ordered the fried veggie basket. We’ll get to why he regretted that later in a minute.

It's still a vegetable even if it's deep fried, right?

It’s still a vegetable even if it’s deep fried, right?

Food we clearly didn't need to order.

Food we clearly didn’t need to order.

For entrees, I went with the baked rigatoni with sausage. It was basically a bowl of rigatoni, with spicy hot sausage, covered with melted mozzerella cheese. Being that I’m not cheese-hater Ted, there really is nothing bad I can say about that. I only ate about half of it – because, well, pasta is filling – but I will admit I’m already dreaming about the leftovers for lunch or dinner.

There's pasta under there somewhere

There’s pasta under there somewhere

Amanda had the meatball sub. Which she was disappointed didn’t come with melted cheese on it, even though the waitress told her it did. Because, really, shouldn’t pretty much everything in an Italian place just be assumed to be covered in melted cheese? She also took half home.

I should've donated some cheese to Amanda's sandwich

I should’ve donated some cheese to Amanda’s sandwich

Jenny had the pulled pork sandwich. To which Shane exclaimed “who orders pulled pork at an Italian place” when she ordered it … but then was a tad bit jealous once it arrived. She said it was delicious.

Jenny takes the "original" prize for ordering off the non-Italian menu

Jenny takes the “original” prize for ordering off the non-Italian menu

The boys both got pizza. And here’s where we see why Shane really didn’t need that appetizer. Let’s just say that “healthy, moderately fun Shane” has clearly left the building. Most likely still reeling over his jealously from Ted’s double stack burger at The Game a few weeks ago, Shane wasn’t taking any chances this time around. He ordered a half sheet of the Sausage Diablo pizza – despite Ted’s “Um, do you really think that’s a good idea?” protest. And I think Ted just voiced what we all were thinking. I mean, a half sheet of pizza? For himself. For real?

But if Shane was confident, then Ted wasn’t one to be upstaged – so he also ordered a half sheet, but of the Meat Lovers. Well played.

Although Ted did once again voice his concern when they placed their orders and the waitress told them that a half sheet really was, actually, a full sheet. As in twelve square pieces. As in more than enough for two people, let alone one. As in, are you sure you don’t want to just share one?

Nonsense.

So, yeah, each pizza came served on an actual cafeteria tray, and covered the whole thing. I think all five of us could’ve shared those two pizzas and still gone home with leftovers. (Side note, Jenny was thoroughly embarrassed. To which we replied, consider this initiation. And you ain’t seen nothing yet.)

Oh look, a whole pizza just for me

Oh look, a whole pizza just for me

Seriously

Seriously

In any case, they both liked the pizza. And of course they swapped a few pieces of each, because, well, that’s what they do. They’re such a cute couple. I think they both liked the kind they ordered for themselves best though. Shane said the meat lovers had almost too much meat (insert “that’s what she said” joke here), and that the spicy sausage was, in fact, spicy – but still good (insert yet another “that’s what she said” joke here). Ted was a little too busy making yummy food noises to be reached for comment (insert another … oh, never mind).

Overall Belleria is a good place if you want a wide variety of menu selections, or are really in the mood for Italian food. Much like JoJo’s in Medina, if we lived closer I could see this being a staple for take out or a place to go on those nights when no one can agree on one specific type of food that they want to eat, since they have a little of everything on the menu. But honestly there was nothing overly special about the place that makes it worth the drive from our area. Being that Ted is working in close proximity, though, no doubt he’ll be back on his lunch in the near future. Maybe he should’ve just asked to leave his leftover pizza in the back for him to claim on his next visit?

I'm sorry, where are we again?

I’m sorry, where are we again?

Ted, honey, squirrels don't like that.

Ted, honey, squirrels don’t like that.

I'm not sure I want to ask what was really in that pizza

I’m not sure I want to ask what was really in that pizza

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks: Eh. Three or four beers on draft, regular domestics in bottles. And wine, which we didn’t try, but I guess you have to have if you’re an Italian place. 
Food:
 Impressive array on the menu, from pizza to pasta to sandwiches. If you can’t find something that at least sounds good enough to order there may be something wrong with you.
Service: Good. It wasn’t busy, so we did get plenty of attention. And in contrast to other times when we’ve had to ask repeatedly for glasses of water, this time we were given a full pitcher without even asking. Karma.
Overall: While it was good – and Ted will likely be a frequent visitor of this place for lunch while he’s working in the neighborhood – I’m not sure that it’s special enough for us to make the trip back to Kent on a regular basis.

Next Pick: Shane

WTGW 2/12/14: Bricco, downtown Akron

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OK, so full disclosure, we’re kind of visiting Bricco on a technicality, since I think all of us have had food from there at one point in time or another. But we’d never actually visited this location – the original of the now four that exist – and Amanda had also not experienced the wonder that is the martini list … so we let it slide. Come on, we’ve been at this for 7 months now, cut us some slack.

Although apparently we need to go back to our previous affinity for dive bars, since Ted informed us in the car that his cousin wouldn’t be joining us again this week because we picked another place that was “too fancy” for his taste. Which makes me think that maybe Kyle would be the one person Shane could actually convince to join him for a meal at the Melody Inn.

Upon arriving at Bricco we worried for a split second that we didn’t have a reservation, because the place looked pretty packed. Turns out it was just “bring 25 of your closest friends to dinner at once” night – seriously, did we miss the memo? Our party of four was dwarfed by the two large tables of 15-20+ seated within the restaurant. We needed you Kyle. Geez. I also have to wonder how we keep showing up at places on power point presentation night as well. I mean, is this a rival WTGW meeting group of some kind? Because we can bring a projector and laptop too. For real.

As always, our evening started with drinks – including the aforementioned martinis for me and Amanda. And they were delicious, just like I remembered them. Backstory, for those that aren’t aware: Bricco for a few years had a location in downtown Cleveland, just across the street from my office. I’ve spent many a happy hour or post-show evening at the bar enjoying just about every martini on the list. While I’m very sorry they’re no longer there, I’m sure both my liver and my bank account are breathing a sigh of relief.

Oh, hello there

Oh, hello there

But now that Amanda has been introduced to the martini list, I’m sure things could change. Especially considering that the location in the Valley, while lacking many menu items we love (*ahem* the pizzas *ahem*) carries the same alcohol list. I see dangerous waters ahead for patio season. Or some at-home bartending lessons.

Don't we look all classy

Don’t we look all classy

Always the one to try the strangest drink on the menu, Ted started off with something called Clown Shoes. Um, OK. It must not have been that impressive, though, because he did not order a second one – so take that as you will. Shane stuck to the Strongbow ciders that we apparently drank the bar out of last week. Their supply held strong this week, thus solidifying our assumption that Amanda and I are the jinx when it comes to bottled beer selection. Yay us!

Since pizza was the whole reason we went to this location instead of the one closer to us in the Valley (well, that and the fact that we’ve all been to the Valley location already – well, except maybe Ted … hmm, there’s a role reversal) we all ordered something from the extensive pizza menu. To be fair, Bricco does have a large array of other foods – pastas, salads, fish and chicken entrees, sandwiches on the lunch menu … but by far I’d say the best thing on the menu is the pizza. I think we’ve only tried one before that we didn’t like, and even then it was a “well, the others were better” kind of dislike and not a “I’d rather vomit up a lung that eat that again” dislike.

I suggested that maybe we should just get a bunch of different kinds of pizzas for the table and share them among us so that we could try a few different ones, but no sooner were the words out of my mouth than my lovely husband shot me a look like I had just suggested he go swimming in a lake full of a thousand sharks, and barked something at me about getting his own food. OK, so someone was super hungry and not really in a Share Bear kind of mood. Point taken. 

This is his "really, with the camera?" face

This is his “really, with the camera?” face

Fancy pizza

This one is all mine. Seriously. Hands off Shane!

Which probably all worked out for the best, because Amanda ordered Ted’s worst nightmare, the pizza made entirely of a million kinds of cheese. Seriously, while delicious, I think this pizza could turn a person lactose intolerant just by looking at it. Shane and I both had the one with chorizo sausage, and Ted went with the blackened chicken/tortilla one. And in case I haven’t said it already, everything was delicious. And filling. I mean, Ted actually only ate half his pizza and had to get a to-go box, which I think was a first in WTGW history. And, following the great Market Tavern Pizza Challenge of a few weeks ago, Amanda threw heroics to the wind and took more than half her meal home as well. Smart move. 

(Sidenote: Can anyone tell us wtf chihuahua cheese is? Seriously. Because it’s on about 30% of the dishes on the menu at this place. Not that that’s a bad thing, we just don’t have any clue what it actually is. Kind of like the quinoa debacle at Hoppin Frog. Hmm, I wonder what would happen if you mixed the two together? OK, now I’m just making myself hungry again … )

So, anyway, all in all a successful visit, although we kind of already knew that would be the case. The only thing I’m sad about is that we didn’t get to sit in one of the cool private booth looking seats, since they looked hella fun. But, I’m sure we’ll be back, so maybe that’s an earn your way in kind of thing. Aspirations. It’s good to have goals.

CAPSULE

Picked by: Shane
Drinks: Martinis. That’s really all you need to know. 
Food: 
On this visit we all only had pizza, but it was outstanding as usual. I’ve had other items from a different Bricco location in the past, and have never been disappointed.
Service: Good. Props to our waiter for also handling the huge table of 20+ near us at the same time, and for being patient with us while we chose martinis. Even though he did think we were going to steal the menu.
Overall: Definitely on the repeat visit list.

Next Pick: Steph

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