Have you ever eaten tripe with a Mexican Coke? You will.

Cincinnati Bites
Bibimbap from The Korea House

Posted Saturday, April 9, 2016

Square. That's what my earliest concept of what a slice of pizza was. It was square. It was small. And when you ate it, you'd wolf down a dozen 2.5 x 3-inch squares in one sitting. And so my earliest perceptions of pizza were vastly different from the general population. Most Americans understand pizza to be a big, round, fluffy pie with a thick, doughy crust topped with a mild tomato sauce and studded with wisps of pepperoni, drowning in seas of greasy, melted cheese and sliced into prominent wedges. No, no --by the gods-- NO!

What I knew as pizza came from Dayton, Ohio. It's all thanks to the late, great Cassano's Pizza King founder "Vic" Cassano, Sr. and his mother-in-law, "Mom" Donisi. Their pizza was allegedly derived from old-world Italy. When they opened their first restaurant in 1953, they introduced to the area a crispy, thin-crust pizza featuring a salted bottom, edge-to-edge toppings and a wine-spiked tomato sauce sliced into those precious little squares. Thanks to Cassano's unique style, Ohioans can enjoy copy-cat pizza companies like Donato's and Marion's Piazza, both of which I like because, you know, squares. But Cassano's came first and, to me, it will always be the best.

While Cassano's offers more than 30 locations in the Dayton area, there are scant few in greater Cincinnati, all relegated to its outer edges, like Fairfield, Monroe and Trenton. Tonight, I made a special trip to visit an old friend: the Fairfield Cassano's Pizza King, located in a strip mall off Dixie Highway, just past Jungle Jim's.

cassano's sign Cassano's neon sign

The 32-year-old neon sign is like the ones I remember as a child, with the smiling, crown-adorned chef lifting a pizza box high aloft as if to say, "Behold, this is what true pizza is! Step in, my friends, and reward your tongue with greatness!"

I'd called ahead 15 minutes prior to my arrival to pick up my 16-inch beauty: a classic Cassano's Deluxe topped with pepperoni, ground sausage, and finely diced mushrooms, onion and green pepper. The layout of the place hadn't changed in the several years since I'd last visited, with wood paneled chair rails and deep red booths and tables in a long, shot-gun style dining room. The free Wi-Fi was likely the biggest, most recent upgrade to the place. Still, not much needs to change here: for people like me, Cassano's is all about nostalgia.

Greedily snatching the box and dashing back out to my car, I lustily breathed in the distinctively salty aroma so signature to their pizza. It filled my cabin and infused itself into my clothing like a warm embrace, inviting me to succumb to its allure and sneak a few pieces before I took the agonizing 30-minute drive back to my house.

cassano's pizza box Cassano's box
cassano's sign Cassano's deluxe pizza

When I arrived home, it was all I could do to stop myself from devouring the whole pizza. While the tiny squares offer their own kind of special appeal, they also serve as delicious, devilish minions of deception, fooling the diner into believing that he hasn't eaten as much as he has. "I'll just have a few squares more...what's the harm?" the unsuspecting diner might say aloud, only to find himself repeating this ritual until the whole damn thing is gone.

Tonight, however, I managed a modicum of restraint. The supreme saltiness of a Cassano's pizza paradoxically makes the idea of an ice-old Coca-Cola diuretic irresistible, and I silently cursed myself for not having the foresight to purchase a can.

In the morning, I opened my refrigerator door to find more than 3/4 of the pizza still staring back at me, and so I took part in yet another Cassano's fan ritual: the leftover pizza breakfast. By now, the distinctive Cassano's pizza flavors had been granted enough time to further marry and concentrate, and what morning leftover pizza lacks in crispiness, it gains twofold in flavor.

Cassano's was likely the first Italian word I'd ever uttered in my life and, if its sodium content is any indication, it may very well be my last. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Cassano's Pizza & Subs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Cassano\'s Fairfield

Price: Moderately Expensive ($11 - $16 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 4.0 out of 44.0 stars

Other Recent Reviews

  1. The Square Root of Pizza: Cassano's in Fairfield
    -posted Saturday, April 9, 2016
  2. Norovirus No More: Chipotle and Fast Casual Dining in Cincinnati
    -posted Wednesday, March 23, 2016
  3. Norovirus No More: Chipotle and Fast Casual Dining in Cincinnati
    -posted Wednesday, March 23, 2016
  4. Norovirus No More: Chipotle and Fast Casual Dining in Cincinnati
    -posted Wednesday, March 23, 2016
  5. Norovirus No More: Chipotle and Fast Casual Dining in Cincinnati
    -posted Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Bella Luna:
    Several bloggers have commented on the bread pudding --can't recall if I'd tried it a decade ago-- but will definitely give it a try next time.
    posted: Thu., Jan 7th, 2016 @ 10:37 AM
  • From TJ Jackson about Bella Luna:
    The only good thing we have found at Bella Luna, and it is very, VERY good, is the bread pudding
    posted: Wed., Jan 6th, 2016 @ 4:33 PM
  • From Jennifer about Aladdin's Eatery:
    Alladins is one place we miss since moving to Dayton. Mark loves their salad with chicken. I love their side salad, lentil soup, rolled pitas and hummus. I agree about the unheated pitas being unremarkable. Their desserts are good too. Just nice to have a restaurant that serves fairly healthy food and with a lot yummy vegetarian options.
    posted: Fri., Jan 1st, 2016 @ 7:53 AM
  • From Jane about Django Western Taco:
    Django is under new ownership. There are changes going on with the menu, but hopefully it will all work out. I first noticed that the "complementary" chips and salsa are no longer complementary - there is a charge for chips and salsa now. And the salsa is served in a very, very small vessel. Very disappointing. The portions are considerably smaller and missing key ingredients that used to be included. Taco Tuesdays are a thing of the past. On the upside, Sunday brunch is returning at the end of November. I will hold off on my final judgment hoping that things will settle down......but for now, I'm highly disappointed.
    posted: Sun., Nov 15th, 2015 @ 10:48 AM
  • From TJ Jackson about Rooted Juicery + Kitchen:
    Dude! Dont go all vegan on us! :-)
    posted: Tue., Nov 3rd, 2015 @ 6:31 PM
  • From TJ Jackson about O Pie O:
    11 dollars for pot pie?

    I hope it was served with a 5 dollar bill on the side

    Then again, I might pay 11 dollars at this point for one from Tom's Pot Pies
    posted: Mon., Oct 19th, 2015 @ 2:06 PM
  • From Tabitha about Alfio's Buon Cibo:
    Yum, I still need to check this place out!
    posted: Wed., Sep 23rd, 2015 @ 12:44 PM
  • From verne dodson about Barresi's:
    could i have your zepole recipe. i hear it takes a special flour
    posted: Tue., May 12th, 2015 @ 11:04 AM
  • From Tabitha about Bamboo Kitchen:
    So sorry to hear about your health issues - I've ran into a couple of health concerns myself starting the first week of January, so I have a theory that 2015 is cursed. I'll be holding my breath till the next year arrives. ;) In the mean time, I hope you're able to keep trying new restaurants!
    posted: Mon., Apr 6th, 2015 @ 2:52 PM
  • From Eden about Taco Casa:
    Back in the year 1978, I enjoyed my very first taco salad at the Taco Casa located next to LaRosa's in Clifton at 2717 Vine. I instantly fell in love with that delicious salad! After leaving the area and then returning briefly in 2009, my husband and I went to the Oakley location and I was once again able to enjoy that wonderful salad! The taste, texture and scent of it was all just as I had remembered, right down to the last bite. I cannot say enough how wonderful Taco Casa is, and I it is on the list as the first place to go when we return again to the Queen City. My one and only wish is that the location in Clifton had still been there when we visited last time and that I would have been able to see the young couple who ran it at the time! That would have been so amazing! Cheers! X
    posted: Sun., Mar 1st, 2015 @ 5:09 PM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design
The Best Dash Cam