The Italian Way

A Tavola owners expand into Columbia Tusculum with a new by-the-slice pizza shop and delivery concept

Mar 23, 2016 at 11:54 am
click to enlarge Brothers/A Tavola owners Nick (left) and Jared Wayne recently opened Taglio, a New  York-style grab-and-go/delivery pizza concept in Columbia Tusculum.
Brothers/A Tavola owners Nick (left) and Jared Wayne recently opened Taglio, a New York-style grab-and-go/delivery pizza concept in Columbia Tusculum.

It’s been five years since Jared Wayne, his brother Nick and friends opened Italian restaurant A Tavola in Over-the-Rhine, an eatery so successful that they added a second location in the suburb of Madeira in 2014. Continuing their Cincinnati pizza infiltration, earlier this month the brothers opened fast-casual pizza joint Taglio, nestled in Columbia Tusculum’s Columbia Square shopping center. In Italian, “Taglio” means “pizza by the slice,” and in Rome you see the word imprinted on eateries throughout the city.

Taglio is meant to be an addendum to A Tavola’s expansive menu, but instead of Neapolitan pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, Taglio focuses on large slices of gas-fired New York-style pizza (hand-tossed, thin crust, real cheese). The concept is simple: walk up to the counter, order a slice or a whole pizza, grab a six-pack or a bottle (or two) of wine from their booze wall, go home and stuff your face. Or place an order for delivery or carryout using their app. (Taglio will also deliver alcohol from their broad selection with your pizza.)

Only one 12-seat table sits in the center of the small restaurant, encouraging customers to eschew the cramped quarters and opt for grab-and-go (they’ll soon stick a few benches outside, too). But if you can elbow your way into a spot at the table, stay a while and drink some vino from the provided stemless wine glasses. Sitting at the communal table inside the minimalist trattoria brings a feeling of conviviality — pizza is a universally loved food that is meant to gather people together, a quality Italians channel in their meals.

Taglio is currently offering a limited menu of first-come, first-served slices ($3 each) and eight signature pizzas ($14-$26), available in 14 or 18 inches. (Eventually they’ll add pastas, salads and gelato to the menu.) The pizza toppings here vary from A Tavola’s gourmet combinations of fig and prosciutto or white anchovy and feature more straightforward options: margherita, veggie supreme, Hawaiian pizza and sundried tomato and artichoke.

For drinks, Taglio carries more than 20 different bottles each of red and white wine, including sparkling wine and Tetra Paks. Prices are reasonable and range from $12.99 up to $70 for a Matthiasson from Napa. We chose a German Riesling, but Jared talked us into upgrading to an American Riesling from Sonoma, a 2014 Scribe, which was a bit pricier than the former, but he promised it was worth it. As for beer, they feature a lot of local breweries (Rhinegeist, Braxton), your typical regional and national brands and a couple of imported Italian beers.

Deciding on what kind of pizza to order came next, so we picked the spinach and ricotta and a slice of pepperoni. Fortuitously, our bill came out to lucky 7s, and I joked we hit the jackpot and should get a free slice, which they obliged. Hospitality is key to their operation, not only in giving us a free slice of pizza for an anomaly, but to other customers as well. Taglio apparently overcooked a pizza two guests had ordered, and while they hangrily waited, Taglio served them two complimentary slices. Because they’re working with four gas ovens and not their standard wood, there’s been a bit of a learning curve.

Though Taglio is considered a sort of fast-casual operation, the pizza does not cook in five minutes; it takes at least 15. But that gave us more time to sit at the communal table, stare at a few people and drink our wine and Italian beer — Isaac, from Birrificio Le Baladin in Piozzo, Italy. The ale had herbaceous and floral notes, almost like drinking chamomile; it’s a wonderful beer you can’t find in many places (I’d never seen it before). We also drank bottled San Benedetto sparkling water, a nice alternative to the more ubiquitous San Pellegrino. Jared was right about the Riesling: it was bracingly dry and one of the best Rieslings I have ever tried.

Finally, our pizza arrived in a gigantic box. The box takes up a lot of room on the little dining room table, but the packaging is utilitarian in that it’s already ready to take home. Taglio will also recork your bottle of wine so you can transport that home, too.

The pizza was a bit greasy, but I attribute that to the olive oil and cheese; it’s New York style, afterall. They make all of their meats in-house but import the ricotta and mozzarella from Italy. The crust was slightly charred and the slices were moderately sized, not devastatingly enormous. But after eating a couple there, we were full and took the rest home.

The neighborhood has other nearby gourmet pizza places — Ramundo’s, Bub’s Pizza Bar, Enoteca Emilia — but Taglio is special. Having high-end pizza and booze delivered to your door seems like a rather new idea around here, but it’s a good one. Taglio has only just begun its ascension in the Cincinnati pizzadom — it certainly has fierce competition — but I think it’s safe to say the Wayne brothers have yet another hit in their Italian arsenal.

GO: 3531 Columbia Parkway, Columbia Tusculum; CALL: 513-321-0454; INTERNET: ; HOURS: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.