The best burger in Cincinnati is not 5 Guys, dumbass.

Cincinnati Bites
Painting from inside Jalapenos Mex-Mex

Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pizzelii Brick Oven Pizza, the latest wood-fired pizza joint to hit Cincinnati, is so popular in Mariemont that we've eaten there a total of once out of three attempts.

The restaurant's concept is simple:

  1. Stand in a line that often snakes past the front door and well into the dining room.
  2. Listen to the owner, who walks down the line, greets willing patrons, introducing them to this weird and totally foreign concept he calls, "pizza."
  3. Take a number, grab your beer, wine, or empty cup to use in the Coca Cola Freestyle machine, and sit at a table next to some screaming kids while your pizza arrives.
Pizzelii Brick Oven Pizza

As you'll learn from owner Gary Gottenbusch's story, he comes from a family of bakers not unknown in these here parts. That the name, "Pizzelii" ends in two "i's" is your first tip-off: Gottenbusch is one of the 4th-generation German bakers who also run Servatii's, the pastry shop/deli chain named after St. Servatii Church, next to which their first cafe had opened in Muenster, Germany.

Five 10-inch specialty pies grace Pizzelii's menu: the classic, simple Margherita, with its vibrant red tomato sauce, pools of molten mozzarella and fresh basil; the meaty Carni, with the magical, drool-inducing soppressata, pepperoni and apple-smoked bacon; the Pollo, with chicken, roasted peppers, onions and a provolone/mozzarella blend; the Vegi, with mushrooms, onions, Kalamata olives, garlic and provolone/mozzarella; and the Cincy Goetta, a unique blend of Goetta, smoked bacon, cheese and a fresh egg plopped dead center like an artery-clogging bulls-eye.

My girlfriend went for the mixed-green House Salad, along with the Vegi pizza, opting to replace its usual red sauce with the Bianca, an olive-oil, garlic and cheese-infused white sauce. I had eyed a limited-time Buffalo Chicken Wing version of their Pollo pizza, and had toyed with the idea of enjoying the Cincy Goetta, but finally opted for the Carni.

After a number and two cups were handed to us, we veered around the prominent wood-fired oven, with multiple openings allowing for quick and easy dispatch of numerous pizza pies. A pick-up station consisting of a long metal table facing the dining room was a flurry of activity, with many servers standing over long lines of pies, quickly finding them a home with their matching table numbers.

Pizzelii house salad, Vegi and Carni pizzas

Pizzelii is one of several area restaurants now offering the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. Two such vending machines stand side-by-side, next to the napkins and pizza accouterments, gleaming with interactive touch screens that allow you to mix and match dozens of Coca-Cola beverages in precise increments. Just select your desired drink, press the large "Push" button to dispense and control the amount, release and choose another type of beverage to mix, and repeat. I mixed regular Coke with Raspberry Coke, while the girlfriend chose the trend-setting "water" option.

Because of the low-price point ($8 for a 10-inch pizza), the universally loved menu, availability of beer and wine, self-service and Freestyle Coke machines, Pizzelii is a paradise for the young and the old, the college student, and the child. The dining room is loud and bustling. Children run around the place unchecked, screaming and generally being kids, and seemingly every empty table meant sitting next to an especially spoiled cadre of brats. But once the pizza arrives several minutes later, nearly all of that is forgotten and surprisingly well-tolerated, though it was difficult for us to carry on a conversation.

Pizzelii house salad, Vegi and Carni pizzas

The House Salad was fresh, simple and delicious, with hunks of Granny Smith apples, goat cheese, golden raisins and toasted almonds resting on a bed of fresh mixed greens.

The two pizzas arrived soon after, mine with perfectly-bubbled and burnt edges one expects from a wood-fired pizza, the large slices of fatty soppressata shriveled slightly into meaty cups atop my pie. The pig-heavy Carni was piping hot and, thanks to the soppressata, a bit on the greasy side, but its flavor was intoxicating. The red sauce was richly tomatoey, reminding me of the pies we'd enjoyed so much in Pompeii, Italy.

My girlfriend's Vegi was an inviting mix of mushrooms, whole cloves of garlic, tri-colored peppers and punchy Kalamata olives, though her pizza's crust could have benefitted from just an extra minute in the oven. The Bianca white sauce offered subtle hints of cheese and garlic, solidly complementing the pizza's premier elements.

Pizzelii Vegi pizza

One pizza would have been just enough for the two of us, as we had ended up boxing half our pies to enjoy for next morning's breakfast. Still, with two pies, a salad and drinks, the bill came under $25.

Pizzelii's wood-fired pizza easily bests several of their area competitors. It's now among a short list of our favorite pizzas in Cincinnati. Just try to get there while school's still in session.

Pizzelii Brick Oven Pizza on Urbanspoon
Pizzelii Brick Oven Pizza

Price: Moderately Expensive ($11 - $16 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.0 out of 43.0 stars






Other Recent Reviews

  1. Mediterranean Musings at Milya Cafe
    -posted Sunday, July 16, 2017
  2. Pastrami Impressions: Shapiro's Delicatessen
    -posted Wednesday, July 5, 2017
  3. Chinese Impressions: Fortune Noodle House
    -posted Saturday, June 10, 2017
  4. A Pleasant Ridge: Grand Central Delicatessen
    -posted Monday, May 29, 2017
  5. A Lobster Oasis: Court Street Lobster Bar
    -posted Sunday, May 7, 2017
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Tabitha about Tickle Pickle:
    Haha, love your comment: " If you were deemed "different" in high school, dressed "weird" or regularly got beat up only to go on to have a decidedly higher net worth and confidence level than the rest of your abusive, judgmental peers, Northside is your home away from home." I know I saw a Groupon for Tickle Pickle recently - might have to check if that's still available!
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:33 PM
  • From Tabitha about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    This is definitely going on the list. Thanks for posting. Do they also have margaritas?
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:23 PM
  • From holly may about Urban Grill on Main:
    This is Israeli couscous, the super tiny stuff is Moroccan. I personally prefer the Israeli (also known as "pearl".)
    posted: Fri., Mar 24th, 2017 @ 4:28 AM
  • From Sommer about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    We really love having Chilango so close to us in the Kings area!!! We have gone a few times and you are right - the Chicken Tinga is the best chicken taco you can get in Cincinnati!!! Thanks for reviewing this little neighborhood gem!
    posted: Tue., Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:12 AM
  • From Tabitha about Lalo:
    But...do they have margaritas?
    posted: Thu., Jan 12th, 2017 @ 12:32 PM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Swad Indian:
    @MJ: I heard family members of those who'd run Dusmesh now work out of the former Amol India in Clifton. It's called, Grill of India (http://grillofindiaoh.com/).
    posted: Thu., Dec 29th, 2016 @ 11:45 PM
  • From mj about Swad Indian:
    It seems Swad has changed hands. Have not see the former Dusmesh owners in my last visit (10/1/2016) and the food is just ok. Wonder where they went this time?
    posted: Wed., Dec 28th, 2016 @ 8:22 AM
  • From Rachel about Bamboo Kitchen:
    Hey there,
    I would recommend Basil Thai and Bangkok Terrace. They have wonderful Thai foods there :)
    posted: Sat., Nov 19th, 2016 @ 11:28 AM
  • From Tabitha about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    Looks good - I definitely have been wanting to try this place!
    posted: Wed., Nov 9th, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
  • From Georgia about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    So you order and pay at the counter before you get your food and they expect you to tip? That's not right.
    posted: Tue., Oct 25th, 2016 @ 10:19 AM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design