A slice of authentic New York pizza is hard to come by in a city like Cincinnati. Surely there is no lack of pizzerias that claim to offer a “New York style” pizza, but there is rarely agreement as to which place is the real deal. If you’ve had a true New York slice, you won’t argue when we say that Noce’s Pizzeria is Cincinnati’s latest addition that does offer the real deal. Huge and foldable? Check. Pedestrianfriendly? Check. Thin, chewy crust? Check. Light sauce and good cheese? Ditto.
Crammed into a small strip-mall, the place isn’t much to look at. In fact, the décor is weird. There are fake grapes and cheese on a shelf and the tablecloths are clamped onto the tables. Generally, if a restaurant’s dining room has a lot of character, I’m much more likely to return — even if the food is only so-so. This is why I felt crushed looking into the window of a certain restaurant that’s opening soon in my neighborhood. It seemed devoid of character, which doesn’t fit with the fun and eclectic nature of the area. I don’t see it becoming my home away from home like I had originally imagined. But I digress.
When it comes to Noce’s, the decor is fitting. A no-frills environment is typical of an urban pizza joint. It’s conducive to the practices that will keep them in business: take-out (very New York) and delivery (very Cincinnati). Uninspired as the décor may be, it does have the look and feel of a corner pizzeria in New York City, complete with a stone oven and a refrigerator filled with canned soda and two-liters.
There are several tables for eating in, but there are no dedicated servers. The guy behind the counter served us and the one other table just fine. I was surprised by the number of menu items available at a place that also serves pizza by the slice. Choose from a large or medium specialty pizza, chicken wings with a choice of six sauces, appetizers, salads, subs and desserts. Then, turn the menu over for the list of “Rolls, Calzones & Stromboli,” pasta dishes and a ton of specials.
I asked about the Baked Ziti ($7.99) and was told it was good, so I ordered it. The meal included two garlic knots and a salad. The salad was very good, appropriately sized, a little peppery and fresh. I recommend the balsamic vinaigrette. The garlic knots looked great — they were hot, garlicky, buttery bread knots, but they lacked flavor. Adding a little salt made all the difference. A nice big portion of ziti arrived piping hot (conveniently in a tin to-go container), covered in marinara sauce and topped with a generous layer of moz zarella cheese. I would have preferred much less cheese, and maybe grated Parmesan or Romano instead of Mozzarella. Overall, it was OK.
We wanted to try the New York-style slices, so my dining companion ordered a Daily Special that includes two slices of cheese pizza and a drink for $4.99. You can upgrade to two slices of a specialty pizza with a drink for $5.99. The cheese pizza did taste like something you’d get in New York City, and I’d compare it to Lucy Blue as well. But some of the specialty pizzas don’t exactly scream “New York.” Case in point: The Chicken Wing Pizza and the Chicken, Bacon and Ranch pizza remind me of nowhere else but Cincinnati. Their signature pie, the Noce’s pizza, sounds great, if not heartburn inducing, and is topped with sausage, onions, banana peppers and a sprinkling of Parmesan, oregano and black pepper.
For dessert, we took home a Cannolo for $2.99 (pardon my scrupulousness, cannoli is actually the plural form). It was my first time having cannoli, and I don’t think it’s something I’m into. Pastries with a lot of creamy filling are not my bag. But the filling was rich and creamy and it was topped with small chocolate chips and Hershey’s syrup. It was pretty good and I enjoyed the unusual flavor — pistachio maybe?
All things considered, Noce’s is sure to please whether you’re looking for a good New York slice to go or a sit-down meal with some characters who for some reason don’t like giant slices of pizza. With weekly and daily specials in addition to special specials for pickup and delivery (right now, it’s football specials Saturday-Monday) on pizza and pasta, it won’t break the bank. And soon you won’t have to travel to the West Side to get it. You’ll have to go to the, uh, East Side. Noce’s hopes to open a second location at 9797 Montgomery Road in Montgomery by Oct. 1.
Go: 4105B North Bend Road
Hours: 1 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 12 p.m-9 p.m. Sunday.
Entrée Prices: $2.50 (per slice)-$20 (for two pizza deals)
Payment: Major credit cards
Red Meat Alternatives: Plenty
Accessibility: Fully accessible