he idea of “pizza by the slice” has been around in major metropolitan areas forever, but it seemed a long time coming to Cincinnati — at least for anyone other than the late-night crowd. Fortunately, Downtown was recently blessed with a by-the-slice pizza option open for lunch, dinner and late night snacking: Cincy by the Slice.
Living up to my reputation as a harried food reviewer, I misread my assignment this month and went to Cincy by the Slice for dinner rather than lunch, but it turned out to be a happy mistake. My friend and I arrived early on a Saturday evening and had the whole place to ourselves. We brought a bottle of wine. I brought a corkscrew but no glasses, which lead to several moments of creative thinking for us and the staff. Could you/would you drink wine out of a pop can or Perrier bottle?
After a search through the basement, the crisis was averted when our server found a couple of Styrofoam cups. Placing them on our table, he proceeded to open the bottle and pour a taste for me to approve. His fine dining service under the circumstances was hilarious, and we immediately felt like regulars.
I was with my tiny friend who can eat like a lumberjack, so we ordered two full-size pizzas and an Italian Sausage Hoagie with peppers ($6.99). I also ordered a Steak Hoagie ($5.99) to go. There are no size options for the pizza other than a whole large pie or slices. We settled on a Supreme pizza ($14.99) with pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper, onion and Italian sausage, and the intriguing Pickleroni ($15.99) with pickles and pepperoni.
As I bit into the Pickleroni, my first thought was, “Why’d it take so long for somebody to come up with this?” On follow-up, Shane Scott, one of the three owners, said that his brother and co-owner, Brandon, was the inventor. I’ll have to shake his hand the next time I’m in.
Cincy by the Slice pizzas are made with homemade, hand-stretched dough and San Marzano tomato sauce, topped with a blend of mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Then they’re stone baked. The cheese blend was practically grease-free, which was definitely a plus, but what really sold me on Cincy’s pies was the crust. I’ve grown weary of the limp crust offerings at various pizzerias in town, but this was a treat.
The Italian Sausage Hoagie was made with flavorful sausage that they ship in from Toledo, but I know they shop at Findlay Market for at least some of their vegetables. The sausage gets pizza sauced, then topped with sautéed onions, green peppers and banana peppers. The Steak Hoagie, with mushroom sauce, onions, pickles and cheese, was peppery and good company when I settled in for an evening with the Charlie Rose show.
When I made it back for lunch the staff was just as friendly as before. It was pouring rain and they reminded me that they deliver for free in a five-mile radius. I’ll have to make a mental note of that as we settle into Cincinnati’s typical winter weather pattern.
I tried a slice of cheese pizza ($2.50) with a side salad ($4.99) and got my friend a Chicken Barbeque Stromboli ($6.99). The stromboli was gorgeous — golden brown, glistening with a brush of garlic butter sauce and crammed full of flavorful hunks of Amish chicken and steamed onions, with an extra helping of smoky, sweet barbeque sauce on the side.
The salad was heads above most pizza joint salads: made with romaine, red onion, tomato, banana peppers, croutons and cheese. Don’t go for the house dressing, though, unless you like it sweet. Speaking of sweets, CBTS offers two desserts made from their pizza dough: Cinnamon Pinwheels ($4.99) and an “Apple Cinnamon Flop Topper” ($4.99). I was too full to try one, but the idea’s innovative.
Ironically, after enjoying the freshly baked whole pizza with its crisp crust, I was disappointed with the single slice. Maybe it’s just the nature of the beast. To serve pizza by the slice, you par-bake a pie and let it sit until a slice is ordered. Then you top it and bake it the rest of the way. If Cincy by the Slice had a suggestion box, I’d urge them to drop the slice idea. Of course, I guess they’d have to change the name! ©
Go: 825 Main St., Downtown
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-midnight Friday; 5 p.m.-midnight Saturday; closed Sunday
Entrée Prices: $6-$18
Red Meat Alternatives: Many
Accessibility: Building has one step at front entrance