WTGW 3/4/20: Tommy’s Bar & Grille, Akron

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Oh Tommy’s, where have you been all of our existence? Or, at the very least, where were you last week as we were experiencing the thrill of unreliable service and feeling like we inconvenienced bartenders as we asked them to let us know what the White Claw flavors might be? 

Ironically, as it turns out, we were pretty much right around the corner. Just going to show that it’s amazing what different worlds exist probably not even a half mile away from one another.

I mean, there’s still pizza. But that was pretty much the only similarity. 

Speaking of pizza, do you think that symbol next to the numbers 9, 12 and 16 denotes the size of the pie, or the number of slices?

Because we heard nine slice pizzas are kind of a thing now, especially on this side of town. 

If you don’t get that last line, I implore you to go read last week’s post. It will make more sense than you want it to after that. And quite honestly if you’re going to continue to read this blog, you probably want to be in on this little inside joke, as chances are this isn’t by any means the last time we’ll reference it. We like to beat these things into the ground with this group.

I mean, anyone up for a trip to Gus’ Chalet? No? 

Anyway.

Tommy’s is definitely off the radar, and by that I mean it seems we might be about the only people who realized it was open on a Wednesday night. Well, I take that back – there were a few people who came in to pick up take out orders. They definitely seem to be busier at the to-go counter than on the bar side of the space. But other than the five minutes or so each of those customers stayed in the place to grab their orders and pay, it was pretty much just our own little private party with the bartender.

Not that anything is wrong with that, of course. Again, if you want to reference last week, when we couldn’t get the attention of not one, not two, but three different bartenders … it was a relatively nice change of pace to be the sole apple of this person’s eye for a few hours. 

 

WHAT WE ORDERED

Pizza. Duh. It’s apparently the new “burgers and wings” of this group. 

Jason, Shane and Ted all decided to take their chances for another week with this option, even though the nine slice pie was apparently not something they acknowledge at this particular locale. 

Ted got the Road Kill pizza, which is just basically a less fancy way of saying “give me a pizza with every kind of meat possible on top of it.”

Shane got the Deluxe Pizza.

He got a smaller size pizza because he also wanted to get six of the Jumbo Garlic wings. Old habits die hard.

I don’t think there was a fancy name for Jason’s pizza because he just picked the size and added the toppings himself. His had pepperoni, sausage and mushroom on it.

Jason and Cassi also got the garlic bread to start off with. They opted for the small order, which is only four slices. FYI, the large is eight slices. Which sounds excessive but I guess for $11.95 it better be.

They look like tiny little French bread pizzas, no? Points just for cuteness factor alone.

Cassi and I both got Italian subs for our meals, after Cassi took over for Shane in the usual bartender inquisition of the menu and asked what he liked best. He was adamant about the Italian sub being his absolute favorite on the menu, so despite throwing a bit of a wrench in the plans since that wasn’t something either of us were even considering before he said it, we both decided to try it. I mean, what the hell, right? 

I also got a side of fries, since the menu stated they were “fresh cut,” and we all know that’s like advertising that they’re made with liquid gold. Also the guys were talking about McDonald’s fries on the drive over, so in full disclosure that may have influenced my decision just a tad as well.

Taking over for my husband in the category of “trying to order as many items on the menu as possible,” I rounded out the order with an attempt to be healthy by also getting … you guessed it … a side salad. Which I debated about because it was $5.95, a seemingly somewhat exorbatant price for a salad meant to accompany your meal and not be the only item on it. When I asked if it was giant, that was because I was slightly scared of what might arrive.

It certainly wasn’t giant – which may have made me slightly put off about the price, except that the pepperoni, mozzarella and black olives wore me down. I mean, $5.95 for just some lettuce and cucumbers would’ve been disappointing, but this was by far more acceptable. 

 

THE VERDICT

Hey, here’s a fun question that I bet you’ve probably never truly pondered before … what would you do for fresh, delicious, soft bread? 

You’re welcome for the new party ice breaker. 

But I ask that, because I think it’s pretty clear in this group that some of us would probably be convinced to jump from a tall building or walk through a pit of fire if that prize were awaiting us at the other end. 

Fortunately in the case of Tommy’s, no one is requiring American Ninja Warrior style heroics just to get our food, but I think we would all agree that some lengths would be unquestionably scaled in the future for anything that arrived in front of us in some sort of carb-laden form after this visit.

From the garlic bread to the pizza dough to the piece of bread that came with my salad, we were definitely ready to gobble up anything doughy that came near our table. 

I think I called my salad roll “fluffy like a cloud.” So, you know, there’s that. 

Shane was happy because the wings that were advertised as “jumbo” on the menu most definitely arrived looking so, so that was a win. We also won’t have to worry about being visited by vampires any time soon, because I think the amount of garlic they were made with will keep us all under cover for some time. That scent certainly wafted to the opposite end of the table pretty quickly.

And since we all left with to-go boxes at the end of the evening, we weren’t complaining at all about the size of the meals for the prices that we paid.

Also now that we’re tried and deemed the bread and wings truly delicious, this item on the menu that’s actually named the “delicious chicken dinner” holds a lot of street cred. Who volunteers to get that the next time we come in?

I’m sure that Tommy’s will be seeing us again sometime soon. Everything we tried was good, and the service was excellent. I mean, I realize we were practically the only ones there, so it would be interesting to go back when it’s busy and see if that changes things – but honestly I don’t think it will. It seems like the kind of place that just takes care of people no matter what.

Plus, bread-things. Enough said. 

Picked by: Shane (as his “make-good” for the forced pick of awfulness from last week)
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 2/26/20: Giovanni’s Pizza & Sports Bar, Akron

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Time for a WTGW Riddle: this week’s pick is a place that brings back quite a few memories for us on the WTGW crew, because we’ve actually been there several times in the past … although this time around it’s technically not a revisit. How is this possible?

Answer: it changes names. A lot. 

Probably the best way to immediately put a mental picture in anyone’s head of where we went this week would be to give you these two names. J Dublin’s (and our subsequent revisit), and Johnny Malloy’s. 

In Shane’s defense, he had a super scary sketch pick up lined up over in Bedford, but tonight’s “I’m not letting you get over winter that easily” snow storm kept us local. So we decided to come here and see what’s new other than the name.

Spoiler alert, nothing.

Now known as Giovanni’s, the place still serves up pizzas, wings and sandwiches. It still has the same huge and strangely arranged interior with a giant bar in the center of the large room, and tables around the edges.

And it’s still not busy.

By the time you’re done reading this you’ll probably have a pretty good idea as to why that is.  

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So, yeah, it’s a funny thing about working at a bar or restaurant, it actually helps to be nice to people. And maybe know a little bit about the place you’re working. 

We sat down at a table on the far right side of the room (it’s seat yourself, not shockingly), and our server was great about approaching us and immediately asking if we want drinks. Um, sure, but maybe here’s where a beer list, or specials board, or perhaps just use of the English language would be helpful in pointing us toward the direction of what we might like to order? 

Yeah, no such luck. We got a blank stare until Cassi asked if there were any specials (“no”) and then I countered with “Do you have White Claw or Truly?” which earned me a look as if I has just asked her to please take a plastic straw and stab me repeatedly in the eyeball. 

And don’t even get her started on ACTUALLY HAVING TO WALK TO THE COOLER TO CHECK ON FLAVORS.

I mean, the nerve. 

I’m just going to throw this out there, probably making a list of some kind could eleviate all of these issues. Just a guess. I’m not positive. 

But considering the shape of the photocopied menus in various states of sun fading or perhaps paper color choice we received when she returned with our drinks, I have to admit I’m not at all surprised that another printed listing of any kind might be an issue.

Alright then.

So we get our drinks, and the menus, and apparently we must all look like we have issues comprehending food options, because like 20 minutes later still no server has reappeared to see what we might want to order.

I should also reiterate here that it wasn’t at all busy, there were three bartenders doubling as servers, and they could all clearly see our table from their places by or behind the bar.

I mean, the girl who originally gave us our menus and was not at all pleased with having to walk over to consult the cooler to know if our drink options were in stock was clearly SUPER BUSY flirting with one of the pool players who kept appearing at the bar to order shots of Crown Royal, so I can see how that totally would take every moment of her very busy shift to handle.

I have to believe that these are the very statements that the rolling eyes emoji was created to express the emotion behind. 

So, OK, let’s fast forward to the point when we were just about to gather our things and ask for the bill for our drinks, as we consulted phone apps to see what other restaurants in the immediate area might be open and actually wanting to serve us, when one of the other bartenders I think sensed our restlessness and approached us to see if we still needed to order. 

And so we stayed. *sigh* 

I mean, at that point it was really a game of who might be able to serve us faster: another place that we would have to drive to and start all over with, or this place that was clearly already dropping the ball. Nothing like playing Russian roulette with your dinner service. 

But I’m glad to share that we did eventually get food. And of course more than a few comments to go along with it. 

Lets start with Ted. He ordered the side of jojos as an app.

So far so good. 

But then for his dinner he opted for a French dip with a side of chili.

Wow, that chili looks a lot like French Fries. I mean, call me crazy, but someone seems to have taken some cooking liberties there. 

Oh wait, there it is.

Because we always need more food at our table.

Meanwhile, Shane and I started with the southwestern egg rolls.

Shane got 15 wings. He asked the server about the Giovanni dry rub sauce, to which he was told that it was “it’s spicy, but not, but it is a dry rub.”  Oh, well, thanks. Clears that right up. Glad to have asked. 

So he ended up with five of those, along with five Cajun and five honey mustard.

I got a side salad and 10 wings, which I split between the mango habanero and spicy honey BBQ. 

Cassi and Jason got the parm puffs as an app.

Or, as Cassi renamed them after one bite, little pieces of heaven. They may want to rethink their marketing. I mean, it’s not as clear cut as a dry rub wing sauce that says so in the name, but maybe it would at least give the servers something to talk about with patrons. 

For dinner, Cassi got a side salad and a calzone. 

Jason ordered a BBQ chicken pizza.

Now, we need to talk about this pizza or a minute before I show you a picture of it – because I have a feeling this is something that may well be referenced well into eternity with this group. (wait, us beat something into the ground? Never!) But seriously, we’re talking “Russ’ Ballet” level of legacy here. 

So, when Jason was contemplating this pizza, he asked our lovely server how many slices were in each size. And was told that the small pizza is six slices, and the medium pizza is nine.

Wait, what now?

Nine? 

Um, that’s impossible.

Like, how do you equally cut a circle into nine pieces? I’m definitely no math major, but even I was scratching my head at that level of geometry. If this is possible, I think we just invented a new shape. Alert the proper authorities!

Never mind, false alarm.

Yeah, so as you can see from the picture, it actually has six slices. So, wait, is this the small pizza then? 

Well it doesn’t really matter, because we were told as we were waiting for the orders to come out that the pizza would actually be comped because the cook supposedly put the order in wrong.

So maybe it WAS supposed to be a nine slice pizza after all then? I’m so confused. 

But ironically, the pizza came out at the same time as Ted’s chili (the real bowl, not the one that looked like French Fries), which was approximately three minutes after the rest of the food. Hmmm. OK then. Could he maybe have just “misplaced” all of our orders and we could’ve just called this evening a wash? 

THE VERDICT

Well poor Ted had to eat his chili with a fork since he wasn’t offered a spoon. But considering how greasy it was, that utensil may have actually been more appropriate. 

It was definitely more helpful in terms of his sandwich, which unfortunately arrived with a large helping of cheese, and we all know how thrilled Ted of all people is about copious amounts of that particular condiment. He spent a good amount of time de-cheesing his sandwich before he could even take one bite.  

And when he did, let’s just say that it’s a good thing his avertion to cheese isn’t due to dairy intolerance, because the bread was saturated in butter. Like someone dipped it in a stick of melted margarine and let it soak up for a while.

Mmmmm. Tasty. 

Speaking of saturation, they definitely used that recipe for the wing sauce as well, at least for mine. It was like my wings had their own private swimming pool. It’s too bad the flavor seemed to be missing from the recipe when they quadrupled it to make such an abundance. I mean, it was OK. Not great. Just … OK. 

Cassi only ate one slice of her calzone, but that was more because she was so full from the “little slices of heaven” and not because it was anything awful. And she did take the rest home, so it wasn’t a complete loss. 

But I think the thing that has earned Giovanni’s a place in our minds, conversations, and as the certain brunt of many, many of our future punchlines is … you guessed it … the 9-slice pizza. Well, I mean, it wasn’t really … but that will forever be our memory of it. And, I mean, let’s face it – if they were truly forward thinking here, they would find a way to actually make that happen and market it.

Because honestly, a signature item like that may be just what this place really needs to finally give it the footing it takes to survive in this obviously cursed spot of ill-fated Italian restaurants and sports bars. Otherwise, it’s no different than the last two names that preceded it. We can get Italian food at 25 other local places, and most of them would offer us better service that didn’t have us looking for a new location 20 minutes in or making us feel like we’re greatly inconveniencing the servers and bartenders with our thirst and hunger. At this point, we don’t have any reason to go back. 

But a 9-slice pizza … I mean, come on. That’s something special right there. 

It’s also refreshing to see White Claw is basically the same price as tequila. Because, you know, they’re pretty much the same.

This post has evoked so many emoji usage options, and not in a good way.

Picked by … well, Shane, kind of. But since his hands were a little bit tied on this one, we all agreed to give him a do-over for next week. So he gets another try before Cassi takes over the following week.

WTGW 12/11/19: Missing Falls Brewery, Akron

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Here’s a quick lesson in how to be confusing: open two breweries within a relatively short span of time from one another, in neighboring areas about eight miles apart … and then give them very similar sounding names.

Good thinking.

Which is the story behind how our GPS was trying to direct us to Missing Mountain Brewery in Cuyahoga Falls – which we’ve tried to go to at least three times now (including this magical night) but haven’t seemed to find the secret password needed in order to get a table in their seat yourself environment – when really we wanted to go to Missing Falls Brewery – which is located in the same building as R. Shea’s newest location near downtown Akron, and Ted’s pick this week.

Seriously, was there some sort of rule that came out in 2018 that all new breweries had to have the word “missing” in them? Does no one own a thesaurus?

OK then.

Side note, we were at the new R Shea’s location a few months ago for a Saturday night out, and we really liked it. I mean, we’re still partial to the original location in the Valley, but with the same great beer selection and expanded food options, we definitely enjoyed visiting this location as well.

Missing Falls looks very similar inside to R. Shea’s – the open industrial look showcasing that the building was once a factory, a big room with a bar in the center and several tables scattered around. There’s also a patio space outside, but since it was about 20 degrees on this December evening, we wisely opted to stay indoors.

And in this case it was also wise because being outdoors would’ve made it that much harder to get to the bar every time we needed to order something. That’s right, Missing Falls features our least favorite system of ordering, where instead of having servers, you have to go up to the bar and place your orders yourself. Because that always bodes well for us.

Here’s looking at you, Erie St Kitchen. Oh the memories.

We also walked into the space in the midst of some sort of card game at several of the tables. A look at the website after the fact confirms it was a euchre tournament. But without that knowledge in the moment it was kind of walking what you thought would be just a house party, and discovering it’s really a championship game night … and that you had forgotten to bring the game board, team, and rule book. So we’ll just drink and eat all the food then, I guess. Cool. I mean, that’s really kind of our usual thing anyway.

WHAT WE ORDERED

So the beer specialty at Missing Falls seems to be of the IPA variety, which Shane somehow glossed over when reading the descriptions and ended up ordering a few of as part of his flight. And we can l guess just how happy that made him, no?

Oops.

I think part of the reason he missed that, though, was because we were all super excited to see that there were about five different varieties of chips offered on the menu. Flavored potato chips?  And not just BBQ, exotic sounding things like Maui Onion, Sriracha Honey, and whatever the hell Hai Poke Wonton might be? Yes please, sign us up.

Gentle PSA: this is what arrives when you order those.

I mean, they are the advertised flavors. And full disclosure, they are still awesome. But I kind of feel like they were cheating a bit with the product description here. The menu specifically points out that all chips are gluten free, cholesterol free, kosher, cooked in peanut oil, come in these tasty flavors … that, oh yeah, let’s not bother to mention, we didn’t make here ourselves. Our bad.

Or maybe they should just team up with The Lockview, home of the Lawson’s French Onion dip served at our table in the actual plastic tub like they just bought it at the corner store down the street.

Because we seem to be in a groove recenty of everyone at the table ordering the same thing, it makes sense that Shane, Cassi and Ted all got the same sandwich, The Hitman.

Before you think maybe you’ve had too many beers through the wonder of osmosis and this post, those really are three different pictures of the same sandwich, just with different chips.

See also: making up for the times I forgot to take photos of things with a million pictures of one sandwich. Whatevs.

I got the El Dorado pizza.

Just one photo, although it kind of almost doesn’t fit, so I guess I could’ve taken two?

Jason got the BBQ wrap with the BBQ chips.

Cassi and Jason also ordered the pretzels as an app, and were predictably thrilled when it showed up with their meals instead of ahead of time as the word appetizer would imply.

THE VERDICT

So if you like the feeling of your mouth being engulfed in flames, you should definitely order exactly what I did. Sriracha chips paired with a pizza featuring sriracha sauce drizzled on top may have been slight overkill. Or at least a killer on my taste buds. But what they tasted before dying out was definitely enjoyable.

The pretzels were also winners of the evening. I commented that they looked delicious, to which Cassi relied that “oh they sure are.” And everyone said that they liked the sandwiches also. I didn’t hear any notes about Top 5 material or anything like that, but perhaps that’s just because that list isn’t as easily maintained as the burger and wings lists, since, you know, we typically order those every week.

(If you haven’t guessed, Missing Falls doesn’t offer burgers or wings, so therefore that’s why this was a rare week with neither option showcased on our table. I’m sure we’ll be back to normal next week.)

But even though the food was decent, we all had to agree that the beers were a disappointment – and probably the biggest hinderance to a revisit decision in the future for us. Of course we’ve all learned by now that product descriptions are misleading – I’ve been suckered in far too many times by the words “hints of caramel and chocolate,” only then to be served a glass of something the consistency of motor oil that tastes like tree bark. But even so, there’s still usually one or two on a flight that we order on a whim and end up surprising us.

And even though Shane was struggling through this paradise of IPAs, you would think that Jason and Ted – who typically enjoy variations of them – would find something they enjoyed.

Nope. There just wasn’t a clear standout, despite ordering across the board and trying things we usually lean toward.

And this was where the location of Missing Falls Brewery may be a hinderance to them … because we all agreed after we finished our meals that, to be perfectly honest, if we were going to be in downtown Akron – and in the same literal building as R. Shea’s – we would just rather go there, and have beers that we already know we enjoy.

And so that’s where we ended the night. We still like the location in the Valley better than the one downtown, but it was still a better option than the wealth of IPAs and tree bark flavored motor oil we would’ve continued with at Missing Falls.

I think we discovered what the “missing” stands for in this instance. We’ll bring you a few flavor suggestions along with that thesaurus next time around.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

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

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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 9/11/19: REVISIT – Retz’s Laconi, Cuyahoga Falls

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So we’re down a person this week, with Cassi out on a work trip. Which means it’s revisit time for the rest of the group.

A feat which was slightly more difficult than you would think. We were trying to stay close to home, so once we filed through some of our nearby favs, we opted for the Noisy Oyster. But forgot that Wednesdays are trivia nights, and apparently ALL OF CUYAHOGA FALLS shows up to vie for the 20 tables available on this place.

So, yeah, that didn’t work out.

Special shout out to the non-helpful man sitting outside who told us on our way back to the car that next time we should try arriving before 5:30 if we want to get a table on trivia night. Thanks, mister. I’ll be sure to pass that along to my boss as an excuse as to why I need to leave my job early the next time we want to go there on a Wednesday night.

Back to the drawing board. Our usual revisit go-to, R. Shea’s, looked packed, and even though I’m sure we could get a table at The Getaway, we likely wouldn’t be served our food until about 10pm. Hmm, where else haven’t we been for a while?

Ah, Retz Laconi. It’s been almost three years since our last visit to this little tucked away neighborhood bar and restaurant, so we were well overdue for a revisit.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Of course Shane demanded a storytime presentation of the blog post from the last visit so he knew what to order this time around. I’m glad my phone is the only one that seems to work for these ventures?

But we did learn that Shane chose the eggplant parm in that last visit, partially for the intriguing aspect of the eggplant being rolled in cheese and deep fried.

Because that sounds nothing like anything any of our total health but selves would ever order, right?

And Ted of course bypassed the Italian menu completely and ordered our group staple of a burger (served Ted-stye, minus the cheese) with wings.

Shocking, I know.

This time around, the guys all opted for their own personal pizzas, combined with orders of wings. So clearly Shane learned his lesson from last time when he ordered an entree and wings but then couldn’t eat the wings because he was too full.

We truly are creatures of habit in this group.

Anyway.

Back to 2019, where, as mentioned, we have a theme for tonight of pizza and wings. No burgers this time around. Surprisingly.

Ted got 12 hot wings and a medium meat lovers pizza.

Jason got six garlic parm wings, six honey mustard wings, and a medium sweet BBQ chicken pizza.

Shane got 12 garlic parm wings, and a small meat lovers pizza.

I kept with the wing night theme, but decided on a side salad instead of a full pizza to go along with them. One of these things is not like the other in this group.

And that unlike thing is also something I seemingly forgot to take a photo of, so you’ll just have to use your imagination on my order. Just picture the wings from those photos above, and replace the large circle of carbs, gluten and meat covered in melted cheese with a small bowl of something green covered in non-melted cheese. Done.

THE VERDICT

The guys gave the pizzas a thumbs up. Although Ted took half of his home – because, well, if you haven’t noticed there was a crapload of food on our table. And he also ordered a medium pizza all for himself.

Shane said he would eat the pizza first next time so he’s not as full by the time he gets to that portion of the meal. So if you’re keeping track here, note that he didn’t say he would order less food, just that he would change the order in which he consumed it so as to make sure he got to try everything.

Also we all know how Shane needs to let his food cool to the temperature of a hardwood floor in winter, so Im also noting that if we have to wait for him to eat his pizza first then maybe we should call ahead and have them prepare it before we arrive so we aren’t still there at midnight waiting for it to cool down.

Mine and Shane’s bill was $46 before tip. Jason’s and Ted’s bills were each around $35 before tip. That damn medium pizza was definitely the kicker.

Also my mixed drinks were the same price as Shane’s beers ($4) … and being that all I tasted was cherry I can only assume that there was definitely more rum than coke involved with those. For once I may have actually won the drink lottery and chosen wisely.

Side note – we’re on hiatus from new picks for most of this month, as every week we seem to have at least one member of the group with a work or vacation conflict. So check back for more revisits, and we’ll see you in October for the next new pick.

WTGW 7/31/19: Mark & Philly’s Pizza, Cuyahoga Falls

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Hey, anyone remember the WTGW rules of choosing a place?

No?

Well here they are:

  • Must have food
  • Must have alcohol
  • Must be fun (or at least have potential)

Pretty simple, I know.

But that whole middle rule about alcohol actually leaves quite a few places out of our spectrum, since there are several restaurants in our area that (we’ve heard) have great take out or just a small eat-in area but just don’t cater to alcoholics such as ourselves.

Probably with good reason. But whatevs.

Enter WTGW Take Out Edition! OK, so I just made that up, it wasn’t something we necessarily planned on doing … but when your dog has to have some minor dental surgery on a Wednesday and you go full-out nervous dog mom on the situation after she gets home from the vet, this seems like a good option. Because we all still need to eat (and drink), just minus the guilt of leaving your still-somewhat-drugged-up-and-not-quite-forgiven-you-yet-for-leaving-her-at-her-most-hated-place-on-earth-for-the-day furchild at home in a kennel after a strenuous day.

See also: take notes, because chances are this situation will present itself again. We have three dogs, people.

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The patient. I don’t think we paid extra for the weird wonky stand-up ear.

And bonus: we know that we won’t have to scour coolers or wait for servers to check back 14 times just to tell us that there’s only one White Claw in the entire place and they have no idea what flavor it is.

Score.

Tonight’s take-out pick is Mark & Philly’s Pizza, which is a little family owned pizza/sub/chicken shop here in Cuyahoga Falls. Shane got a little history lesson when he picked up our order (side note, the do also deliver, we just chose to go pick it up, because, well, we were super hungry and didn’t want to take a chance that that option would take longer), as both Mark and Philly were working in the restaurant that evening. He learned that the place has been in business for over 30 years, and that Mark is in the kitchen pretty much every day helping with the cooking while Philly cashes orders out. They have a support staff, of course, but they also seem to pretty much not miss a day of work.

And they’re doing a killer job. There’s a reason why they’ve been a city staple for this many years. We placed our order via phone, and everything we ordered – three pizzas (including two deep dish), an order of fried chicken, two orders of jojo potatoes, and two salads – so, you know, enough to feed about double the amount than were in our house – was all ready in 25 minutes.

Let’s just think back to the sheer number of places recently who hadn’t gotten us so much as an appetizer, much less our entire order, by this point in our dining experience. County Line on $1 burger nights, anyone? The disaster that was Mac’s Cabana? WADSWORTH TAVERN?

Exactly.

I vote Mark and Philly to helm the next restaurant makeover reality show.

WHAT WE ORDERED:

Shane had read online that the Sicilian pizza was the way to go, with pretty much 99.9% amazingly good reviews. So that made his decision easy. He got a small.

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FYI, if you’re unaware – as I was – that Sicilian essentially translates to a type of deep dish pizza, then I’m providing that knowledge to you now. You’re welcome.

Cassi also ordered a large Sicilian for her and Jason to split, and then a side salad with cheese for her.

Mark & Philly's, Cuyahoga Falls

The same, just bigger. 

Meanwhile, Ted opted against the deep dish and just went for a regular pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. He got a large, because, well, why not.

It made Shane’s look like a baby pizza.

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Yes, this establishment also serves Truly. Carry on. 

But what you don’t see in that picture is the sheer depth of the Sicilian versus Ted’s regular pizza. The Sicilian is like a true PIE – so crust, then toppings and cheese, then another crust, then more cheese.

Translation: Ted chose wisely for himself.

On the non-pizza side of the table, I got the two chicken breast dinner, which comes with a breadstick and two sides – I chose Jojo’s and a side salad with cheese.

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AND THE VERDICT IS:

Thumbs up all around. The Sicilian stole the show, with everyone who ordered it (or, even, in my case, tried a bite of it) voting it a top favorite.

In fact, Shane went so far as to claim that he had a new favorite. Like after pretty much one bite he was ready to de-throne his previous regional fave, Farinaccis. As was Cassi to Tim’s Pizzeria.

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Shane eventually revised his statement to claim that he still liked both pizzas, but for different reasons.

Still, that’s high praise, coming from the pizza guru himself.

I was a fan of my non-pizza meal also. The chicken was good and hot, and the jojos – while not entirely my favorite out of every place I’ve had them – were still tasty. I ended up putting half the meal away for another time.

And even the price wasn’t too bad, considering all we got. Around $65 for the whole order, which really isn’t awful considering we’ve paid way more than that for just two of us on some weeks.

And to be perfectly honest, those Sicilian pizzas are worth every penny. I mean there’s probably $20 worth of cheese on those alone.

I can almost hear Ted gagging while reading that sentence.

Next pick: Steph

WTGW 7/3/19: REVISIT – Jojo’s Sports Grille, Medina

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THE WHERE (we went)

So riddle me this: is it really a revisit if the person who picked it said they didn’t remember going there?

Our last time at Jojo’s Sports Grille was back in July of 2014 – which, sidebar, anyone else completely amazed that that was FIVE WHOLE YEARS ago already? I mean, WTH, universe – but it was also before we devised our revolutionary thumbs up/down rating system, so I mean, really how do we even remember what we thought of a place without that?

Exactly.

But honestly, it seems like Jojo’s really hasn’t changed much over the past half decade. They’re still in the same building, just away from the square in downtown Medina. And still connected – and by connected I mean sharing the building with – Domenics Italian Restaurant. So I guess that relationship is still going strong,

Jojo’s has a patio – but being that it was a nice evening in early summer, it’s no surprise that we weren’t able to find an open table for four. Or one, even. Guess this is the place to be, Medina.

The place is also still seat yourself – which I don’t remember working out so well for us the last time we visited, so I’m super excited they still haven’t found a better way of doing things. Because that fun walk of shame with a group of four people through the bar onto the patio, making a large circle and then retracing your steps back again will never be awkward.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

It’s too bad we didn’t take a hot second to look at the beer taps or coolers when we did our patio walk through, because our server wasn’t super up to speed on what was available. She was slightly knowledgeable with the beer options, so Ted was quick to choose the Truth on tap – although to be fair I think it was Cassi that had actually spotted that handle on our little walk. And Shane opted for a Bud Light – because, well, that’s usually a given that most places will have that on tap.

So maybe I’m actually giving the server a little too much unwarranted credit.

I chose Summer Shandy after learning the only cider option was Angry Orchard, which is essentially the PBR of ciders. No thanks. But then Cassi asked about White Claw or Truly, and was told they have both – specifically the Mango WC and the Berry Truly – so I changed my answer.

Just kidding. Our server returns to our table a little bit later with the beer for the guys, and one raspberry White Claw. Which is 1) neither of the flavors that she had said previously she was certain they had, and 2) one can less than what we ordered. Hmm.

I mean, if this is the last one left in the whole building just tell us straight up because we’ve found ourselves in this situation before and it’s not entirely pleasant.

She says they do have more, but she isn’t sure what flavors. Because, although you know we had specifically asked you about what was available, apparently you just closed your eyes and grabbed up a can at random out of the cooler? Did someone hand it to you relay race style as you passed by the bar and screamed “give me a hard sparkling water, stat!”

Doubtful.

Regardless, we told her to surprise us. It’s like Russian Roulette with alcoholic beverages. Live dangerously.

So there’s at least two flavors back there

Cool.

Another thing we remembered from our last visit was that Jojo’s had a very large and diverse menu. And that definitely hasn’t changed at all.

Shane looked up the old post, and the photos of the pizzas were enough to make his ordering decision on this visit slightly easier. The only debate he had was the eternal choice in toppings or specialty pizza. He was leaning toward the NY Style simply for the fact that it was a larger pizza, but then once he would’ve added literally ALL THE TOPPINGS it would’ve been about as much for his pizza as the bills for the entire table.

So he ordered the Domenic’s Deluxe instead. Which, let’s face it, was still pretty large, so I’d consider that a win.

A giant pizza, all for Shane

He also got a side order of jojo potatoes. Because, Jojo’s. Can you go to eat there and NOT order them?

I have to believe we made that same joke five years ago, too.

And clearly it was enough food for him, because he ended up taking three pieces home. And one slice of Cassi’s, after she declared she was not at all thrilled about her choice. And Shane wasn’t going to see it go to waste.

No one throws out pizza on Shane’s watch.

Cassi’s choice was the Veggie Pizza, with a side salad. She took one bite and gave it an “F” grade, victim of the dreaded mushy bottom. She said the toppings were good, but the crust killed it for her. And it was nothing like Tim’s, which is the standard by which all pizzas in her world will now be judged.

#notTim’s

This also spurred a lively debate between her and Shane regarding the merits of vegetables on pizza and how that affects crust moisture.

We take on the hard topics on Wednesday nights, folks.

Meanwhile, Ted and I were just over here enjoying our non-pizza meals, which included ten Sweet Chili Thai wings and an overstuffed Italian Panini for Ted.

And the Firecracker Panini for me, which – because the name doesn’t really make it obvious – was turkey, pepper jack cheese, and breaded jalepenos. And no, I wasn’t just going for the Independence Day theme. I was actually considering the turkey bacon panini, but I still have PTSD from a few weeks ago. Damn you, Wadsworth Tavern.

I think Ted loved the pickle the best out of his whole meal, if that tells you anything. Not to pick on the Wadsworth Tavern again – but, I mean, we will, because let’s face it they deserve it – but Ted said that pickle had more flavor than the supposedly pickle flavored wings he waited a year and a half for on that visit.

He wasn’t impressed with his Panini, saying it “wasn’t quite as advertised.” And by that he means that the menu calls it oversized, but his wasn’t much thicker than my regular panini.

I, on the other hand, really liked my regular old non-overstuffed sandwich. It definitely had a kick to it. My side salad, however, was essentially nothing more than a bowl of iceberg lettuce with some cheese, so I’m super glad I opted for that.

Especially since ordering it meant I had to almost draw a photo diagram for the server to describe what I was wanting to order with my sandwich. So, I wanted to keep the chips that came with the sandwich, AND add a side salad. Not substitute. Not remove one. Not bring one as an appetizer.

Because apparently no one has ever ordered two sides with a sandwich before. #trendsetter.

THE WHO (we saw)

Judging from the crowd when we walked in, all of Medina. It is a holiday eve after all. And nothing says “Night Before Independence Day” like eating Italian food, right?

Although about 25 minutes after our arrival we started seeing things clear out a little, at least in the dining room area. We guessed we were at the tail end of the dinner rush, so that was probably part of it – but then also judging from the huge crowd we saw sitting in the dark on lawn chairs in the park down the street on our drive home, it was probably also an easy dinner placement prior to the city fireworks display.

I mean, good thing we put that whole fireworks thing together or else that image could’ve been a little bit creepy, no?

Anyway.

Someone we didn’t see much of was – shocker – our server. Because her expertise with the bar beverages didn’t set that one up for you at all, I’m sure. Her visits were sporadic and not always productive, something we seemed to remember about the service on our last visit. So clearly they’re working on that.

THE HOW (much we spent)

Well, I’m glad lettuce and cheese is $3.49. That seems acceptable.

Overall, though, considering the amount of food we had, that tab isn’t horrible. If two people were to share a pizza along with some drinks it would be a pretty cheap night out.

But we all know how this group feels about sharing food, so there’s that.

THE WHY (they will probably see us again)

Despite the slow service and the fun game of dining table musical chairs you have to submit yourself to just to try and get a place to park yourself for your meal, Jojo’s does have a large menu and some decent options. And clearly their system is working for them, as they haven’t gotten any less busy in the five years between out visits. We said it last time and we’ll say it again – it would be a solid option for a take out place, since there’s always something new to try on the menu and you don’t have to take your chances on tables or bar drinks in the process. But really what fun is that?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

(We forgot to take our photos at the restaurant before we left, so thankfully Ted was making a stop for gas at the GetGo down the street. You’re welcome to the other drivers who got to witness our seemingly random photo session with the pizza box)

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Shane