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 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