Week 39 – Red Rose Jems Pizzeria

Week 35 of 2014’s tour is also Stop 2 of Tour de Pizzannati, the tour-within-a-tour as brought to you by myself, Swarles Barkley, and various guests who will join us throughout to determine which place in Cincinnati serves the best cheese pizza. Despite the crap I get for loving and ordering plain pizza the way I do, Swarles and I wholeheartedly agree that, if a restaurant cannot master the basics, how can it be considered quality?

Red Rose Pizzeria

A group of five of us met for pizza (and salad and breadsticks with cheese and Goat’s BLTs) and, upon walking in, we found seats at the front of the restaurant near the window. I loved the interior, the service was great (even if a little slow), and there was even a parking lot in the rear, which made for a much less stressful event than worrying about street parking.

The food was also really good. The breadsticks were interesting because they weren’t fluffy like you’d think they would be. Instead, they were flat like pizza, which was fine. The ranch was pretty good, I generally liked the Goat’s BLT (86 the T), and the pizza was also very good. There was plenty of cheese on top, it was cooked perfectly (hardly any brown in the cheese), the crust was crunchy, and I decided that, next time (and there will be a next time) I will get light sauce.

Ranking of cheese pizza from Tour de Pizzannati places thus far:
1) Red Rose
2) Adriatico’s

[Editor's Note: I decided to make a more concrete way of scoring every cheese pizza based on consistent criteria for each place. Out of 5.]

Cheese (How much and how delicious?) – 4/5
Very good, but not quite enough. There were “bare” spots on the pizza that exposed the sauce.

Sauce (How much and how did it taste) – 3.5/5
There was more than I’d like, but it was good. Next time I’ll get light sauce.

Crust (Style of crust and texture) – 4.5/5
Hand-tossed style and very crunchy and delicious.

Overall Flavor (How did it all come together?) – 4.2/5
Very good. I was very happy with the cheese pizza at Red Rose.

Temperature (How was the pizza cooked?) – 4.8/5
I love my pizza just cooked enough; cheese with little to no brown. Red Rose did this well (but not well, if you know what I mean.)

Ranch (This won’t break a place, but it could very well make one.)
I thought it was pretty good. Not amazing, but a nice addition to the pizza.

Other (Notes go here.)
Service was pretty good. Our server was awesome. The food took a little longer than we were hoping.

Total
21/25

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Week 38 – Delhi Palace Indian Cuisine

There’s a new Indian restaurant in town, which Cincinnati isn’t experiencing any sort of shortage on, but as they say, “the more the merrier!”

A friend lives nearby and, while we originally had plans to meat at Mekong Thai for dinner, we learned that Mekong had closed its doors (RIP). We decided that Indian was a nice consolation prize and opted to try out Cincinnati’s newest take on Indian cuisine.

Delhi Palace is located in Silverton where “Cincy Burgers” once resided, which doesn’t have the best facade, although it certainly features ample parking options, which is great.

Chicken Makhani (rear) and Shahi Paneer (front).

Chicken Makhani (rear) and Shahi Paneer (front)

I was really in the mood for something other than my standard Paneer Makhani, as I was craving the flavor of Chicken Tikka Masala. After discussing this with our server, he suggested I try Shahi Paneer (basically paneer tikka masala). Its presentation is a bit different than I’m used to, as the paneer was grated instead of cubed but man was it good. I absolutely loved the suggestion and may have a new favorite dish to order wherever possible. In standard Indian restaurant form, we also ordered garlic naan. It wasn’t the best around, but it was a nice addition to our meal.

While the exterior and interior of the restaurant are nothing to write home about, the service and food are well worth the trip. I actually read on Yelp that the Shahi Paneer is the best, which is not hyperbole. I think that assessment is fair, as my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

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Follow Friday…

Tour de Cincinnati on Twitter

…except my recommendation for who you should follow is, in fact, a request that you follow Tour de Cincinnati on Twitter. I know that’s not really how that is supposed to work, but work with me here.

What better way to engage, interact, and share information with fellow Cincinnati lovers than on Tour de Cincinnati’s brand new Twitter page, which will detail everything great about The Queen City, including its food, architecture, and various goings-on around town?

Have questions about where to eat this weekend? What place(s) someone might recommend for your anniversary? Or what about where you might find the best local beer? A non-restaurant that is a must visit? What about a free event taking place you would like to check out? If you’re like me and often have a hankering for French fries, here’s your chance to inquire for opinions about who in Cincinnati does them best. I look forward to interacting with my fellow Cincinnati lovers about recommendations they have, too!

You can also like the page on Facebook and follow Tour de Cincinnati on Instagram.

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Week 37 – Suzie Wong’s

In honor of BK’s and my impending move to the neighborhood this weekend, I felt it was best to write about one of our favorite Asian restaurants that we will be soon be frequenting much more often. Suzie Wong’s, situated prominently on DeSales Corner (intersection of Madison Road and Woodburn Avenue), enjoys proximity to telltale landmarks as well as ample street and lot parking. Additionally, its red awning lends a hand to the ease in which it’s seen from an otherwise busy thoroughfare.

Clockwise from top left: Mongolian Chicken, Beef Bibimbap, BonBonerie Opera Cream Cake, Grilled Halibut

Clockwise from top left: Mongolian Chicken, Beef Bibimbap, BonBonerie Opera Cream Cake, Grilled Halibut

Our most recent tryst with this Asian fusion restaurant included Crab Rangoon and Suzie’s Potstickers to start, while BK got the Beef Bibimbap, I decided on Mongolian Chicken, and the others opted for Mongolian Beef and the Grilled Halibut Special. Suzie Wong’s Crab Rangoon garners a lot of accolades as some of the best in the area. Rightfully so, too, as they are amazing. They’re not greasy and serve as an outstanding precursor to the rest of the meal. Of the places I’ve been that serve Bibimbap (admittedly not many, but still a few), SW serves my favorite version. I crave it often. Everything else was great, too, and we even got to have BonBonerie Opera Cream Cake for dessert, which was great as expected.

It was all just as good as I remembered from our first trip to Suzie Wong’s nearly two years ago. Our dinnermates loved it, too. I am thrilled to be moving to the neighborhood this weekend and even more thrilled that we will have SW at our disposal.

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Week 36 – Everything Bagels

I’ve made it no secret that, in 2014, it has been a bit trickier to get to one new place per week, seeing as I have spent the better part of this year as a Weight Watchers member. Alas, bagels are one of my favorite food groups, a decent “splurge,” and can be eaten while adhering to the Weight Watchers lifestyle. Therefore, when I found myself out in the nether regions Cincinnatians call Eastgate, I remembered there was a bagel place I’d be wanting to try.

Enter Everything Bagels.

Asiago bagel with egg and cheese

Asiago bagel with egg and cheese

French Melt (French toast bagel with egg, cheese, and bacon instead of sausage)

French Melt (French toast bagel with egg, cheese, and bacon instead of sausage)

Chocolate chip bagel toasted with chocolate chip cream cheese

Chocolate chip bagel toasted with chocolate chip cream cheese

Located in a small strip, EB isn’t small, but it is relatively unassuming. The menu is large enough to satisfy a number of people, but naturally I ordered from the breakfast menu, where I got my standard asiago bagel toasted with egg and cheese; light plan cream cheese on the side. My mom opted for the French Melt (French toast bagel with egg, cheese, and she got bacon instead of sausage), which she seemed to enjoy. It wasn’t until after we had ordered and paid that I learned EB had chocolate chip icing. Therefore, when I was finished, I got a chocolate chip bagel toasted with chocolate chip cream cheese. I had a few bites (truly, I only had a few) and it was alright. I don’t particularly love cream cheese masquerading as dessert (see also: cheesecake), but it was alright. The bagel itself was great and I’d have rather had it with butter. The little amount I had was plenty.

The bagels were good enough. I would compare my asiago bagel to that of Panera, where the bagels are perfectly fine. The service was great. If I ever find myself in those parts again, I’d be happy to return.

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Week 35 – Adriatico’s

Week 35 of 2014’s tour is also Stop 1 of Tour de Pizzannati, the newest tour as brought to you by myself, Swarles Barkley, and various guests who will join us throughout to determine which place in Cincinnati serves the best cheese pizza. I’ve always gotten a lot of crap for loving plain pizza the way I do, but Swarles and I wholeheartedly agree that, if a restaurant cannot master the basics, how can it be considered quality? (Same goes for ice cream in my opinion.)

Surprisingly enough, I had never been to this Cincinnati institution, but it had appeared on my List for a long time. Thankfully, too, Swarles and I had been plotting the beginning of the tour, and decided it would be a great place to jumpstart our cheese pizza journey.

The Suspects: Swarles, Friend From Detroit (FFD), FFD’s Friend, BK, and myself.

The Goods: In standard Linsey fashion, I opted for breadsticks to start. With ranch dressing, garlic butter, and pizza sauce to dip—don’t be silly. In addition to breadsticks, the place served tater tots. TOTS, GUYS.* So we just knew that a platter of cheese-covered tots was necessary. For the main event, and for the namesake of the tour, the five of us also got two medium pizzas: one hand-tossed with cheese and another with Sicilian (thick) crust with half cheese and half pepperoni and sausage (that was for BK, who all but refuses to eat plain pizza).

Adriatico's

The Verdict: I liked Adriatico’s. I wasn’t blown away by it like I expected to be and considering how much everyone hyped it up. It was really good, though, and I especially liked the tater tots, hand-tossed crust, and ranch dressing.

Although it didn’t really live up to the hype, I generally liked Adriatico’s, and the ranch dressing was everything I could have wanted and so much more. Also, TOTS, GUYS.

Join us on the tour by using the #pizzannati hashtag, or by checking out our adventure on Facebook!

*I may have to create a tour based strictly on restaurants that serve tater tots because I love them so.

[Editor's Note: I decided to make a more concrete way of scoring every cheese pizza based on consistent criteria for each place. Out of 5.]

Cheese (How much and how delicious?) – 3/5
The cheese was good, but there wasn’t quite enough. It didn’t even meet the crust all around each of the pies.

Sauce (How much and how did it taste) – 3/5
There was more than I’d like, and it was just okay. Next time I’ll get light sauce.

Crust (Style of crust and texture) – 3.5/5
We got one hand-tossed pizza and one thick crust pizza. The thick crust, in my opinion, was mediocre. I much preferred the hand-tossed.

Overall Flavor (How did it all come together?) – 3.8/5
It was good enough. I was not nearly impressed with Adriatico’s as I expected to be, but it was still good.

Temperature (How was the pizza cooked?) – 3/5
I love my pizza just cooked enough; cheese with little to no brown. Adriatico’s cooks its pizza beyond that.

Ranch (This won’t break a place, but it could very well make one.)
The ranch was good. I definitely liked it and thought it was a great addition to our breadsticks, which would have otherwise been underwhelming.

Other (Notes go here.)
TATER TOTS! Easily the best part of the meal.

Total
16.3/25

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Week 34 – Cloud 9

My two best friends from high school and I wanted to meet for sushi on a Friday night. Given I walked up to Dancing Wasabi and saw a sign that read it was closed [indefinitely], we had to think on our feet: where could we go to satisfy our wanting sushi but for half price and with Sunday Morning rolls?

Cloud 9 it was.

Cloud 9 Sushi

Mt. Lookout isn’t my favorite since the parking situation isn’t ever ideal, but it is well worth the hassle once in a while, and Cloud 9 proved to be one of those worthy restaurants (see also: Zip’s Café). Located in the former and original Dancing Wasabi location, Cloud 9 featured a similar menu with some new takes and variations on half price sushi. We decided to start with Shrimp Shumai, and we each opted for three sushi rolls to succeed our appetizer. We were all impressed with what we went with, and my personal favorites were the Sunday Morning roll (of course), Crunch Munch, and Bengals roll, which one of my friends got and let me try, and I will definitely get in the future.

Now with Dancing Wasabi closed, I’m happy to have Cloud 9 as a deliciously reasonable option. Big fan.

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Week 33 — Dairy Corner

Cincinnati doesn’t have a shortage of ice cream parlors, but considering I’m often in Oakley, BK and I had a bit more trouble finding a creamy whip to try out near his place. Thanks to a friend’s Yelp check-in and having seen it mentioned by another friend previously on Twitter, we decided to give Dairy Corner a try, a soft-serve creamy whip at the intersection of Route 32 and Church Street in Newtown. (Located just across the street from Main Street Café, where Zips-like burgers are served and would be a great precursor to Dairy Corner for dessert.)

Located a mere 10 minutes from BK’s place in Oakley, Dairy Corner proved to be the closest option to satiate our need for the summertime staple of a chocolate and vanilla twist cake cone—mine with chocolate sprinkles and his with rainbow (weirdo). Coming in around a measly $4.50, it wasn’t only convenient and delicious, but it was inexpensive, too. My theory about ice cream is this: if you can’t master the basics, what are you good for, really? Dairy Corner did it really well, too. I will certainly be back.

Buyers beware, though, as Dairy Corner only accepts cash.

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Save Our Icons

Save Our Icons

I don’t typically so staunchly and publicly touch on these kinds of subjects, but I feel very, very passionately about this one in particular, and feel that it is my duty as a proud Cincinnatian to address it.

Music Hall and Union Terminal are not only beautiful subjects for fantastic photographs, they serve as icons of the uniquely crafted architecture for which our city has become so well known. They serve as gathering places to meet with friends and loved ones. They serve as backdrops for (and even hosts to) music festivals, public events, urban flea markets, Crafty Supermarkets, fireworks displays, live bands and concerts, kickball games, marriage proposals, wedding celebrations, and LumenoCity. Most importantly, they serve as educational venues—Music Hall as a flagship of our vibrant and imperative musical arts community, while Union Terminal more explicitly educates its visitors by way of the Natural History Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, Children’s Museum, and OMNIMAX Theater (among many others).

LumenoCity, in its second installment, experienced a 12-minute ticket sellout, and brought more than 40,000 onlookers (even more than the whopping 35,000 who came over two nights in August 2013) to Washington Park and the surrounding areas for three consecutive nights to witness the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra perform a live concert set to an intricate light show projected onto the façade of Cincinnati’s famed Music Hall, the historic Venetian Gothic landmark. This extravagant and expansive event is just one of many examples why Saving Our Icons should be paramount to our community.

To not want to Save Our Icons is shameful and a detriment to the betterment of our city and our county, which all of its citizens should want to see thrive.

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