Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Roc-a-fella's Redemption

Date: Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Location: 11055 Reading Road  Sharonville, OH 45241
Ranking: 40

This pizza quest for us is nothing short of scientific.  Alright, who are we kidding…we swirled our fingers around with our eyes closed to pick the first couple of places.  But, in all actuality, there is some science to why humans like what we like, and here’s a little biopsychology for you people.  When you first smell a scent that is new to you, it becomes linked to an event, a person, a thing, or even a moment. Your brain creates this link between the smell and a memory. When you come across the smell again, the link is already there, ready to bring back that memory or a mood (for example, the smell of fruit punch always reminds Courtney of kindergarten).  Seeing how food is so strongly tied to the scents they possess, it’s no wonder that certain foods or food smells so easily bring memories to the surface of our minds.

In Robyn’s case, the memory of her first visit to Roc-a-Fella’s ignited mixed feelings and unwanted memories.  The only time she’d ever been was on a first date with someone who, upon entrance to the pizzeria, she genuinely thought she would like a lot.  Turns out, the disgusting person that he turned out to be overshadowed the true love she might have experienced with the pizza back on that first date, a couple years ago.  Though it was difficult to extract her memories of the meal from her bad experience with this particular guy, Robyn managed to salvage some recollection of a good pizza.  She insisted that this pizza was delicious and felt obligated to let the pizza redeem the restaurant from her own associations and memories.  She didn’t want Roc-a-Fellas to fall short on her list because some eternal douche ruined it for her.  After all, he isn’t worth even half the mention he’s getting in this blog post, so there’s no way he’s going to create a void in someone else’s pizza enjoyment.  Yeah!  So, with this piece of Robyn’s autobiography in mind, let’s move on. 

When ordering at the counter, the boss appeared skeptical that we only wanted a large.  True, this is their smallest size.  However, it is also a LARGE.  It seemed that for once, someone was overestimating our pizza loving abilities!  He cut us the best possible deal for the combo we were ordering (large two-topping pizza, order of breadsticks, and two sodas).  For all this grub, our total was $22.00 with a small (about $2) tip.  Reasonable prices: always a check mark in the “Pros” column!  Robyn was in the mood for just a classic kind of pie, and being the agreeable and tolerant friend that Courtney is, she agreed to order a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza with an order of breadsticks to munch on as well.  The breadsticks were one of Robyn’s happy bad date memories – she insisted they be a part of our Roc-a-fella’s experience. 
When we seated ourselves in the adjoining room, we encountered two breathtaking decorations:  a Space Jam pinball machine and an array of pizza box art.  Here’s a prime example of what we meant about not being able to hold back on extraneous factors such as the environment and décor-how could you not love a good Space Jam artifact and creative pizza art? Emphasis on the Space Jam part, though.   They could have served shit on a stick and we would have at least walked away happy that we’d seen a Space Jam pinball machine. 
MUCH better than a poop stick

Sidenote:  The wall next to our booth featured another piece of art – a framed picture of a couple feeding each other pizza.  The guy in the picture looks JUST LIKE our friend Matt.  We are using capital letters here.  Sure, no one else might care, but this surely contributed to our positive review and pleasant experience. 
"I realized it wasn't really me in the picture when I noticed that my earlobes are different" (Matt Z, one week later)

Now, at least an entire paragraph needs to be dedicated to the breadsticks alone.  These breadsticks are quite the showstoppers.  They are freshly made – we saw ours when they were just baby dough logs, brushed with butter and sent to the oven - and are just $4 for 8 huge breadsticks .  Four dollars!!!  Thinking about all of the ridiculous ways she’d spent $4 in the past and NOT received a platter of breadsticks like these made Robyn want to punch herself in the face. Our pizza was neglected for a few minutes so that we could “let it cool,” when in reality, we just wanted to indulge in more breadstick heaven.  These breadsticks were accompanied by not one, but FIVE little cups of marinara sauce.  Usually you are lucky to get maybe two cups of dipping sauce, and usually only one of those is marinara.  And usually, Courtney doesn’t even want the marinara because it’s not that great.  But this sauce…this sauce was different.  These little cups were full of bright orange-red marinara wonder.  It was flavorful and had a semi-sweet taste to it – just right.  It was chunky with small pieces of tender tomatoes that seemed to melt in your mouth once married with the chewy, garlicky dough of the breadsticks.  Yum yum yum.  This sauce is homemade daily.  The secret ingredient?  A dash of sour cream.   


After prying ourselves away from the breadsticks, we cut into the pizza.  Roc-a-Fella’s pizza comes out piping hot and gleaming with oils from the cheese, pepperoni, and garlic-brushed crust.  Some might use the word “greasy” to describe the little pools of oil resting atop the cheese and pepperoni, but the word “glistening” seems more fitting to us.  Besides, as you learned from being a calorie-conscious teenage girl once upon a time, a little blotting with a napkin solves the grease situation both quickly and easily.  Speaking of the cheese – it was not as stringy as others, but in a good way.  It was quality cheese that you could really bite into.  Meaning, when you took those first few gooey bites, every single topping didn’t pull away with a sheet of cheese, losing their pizza real estate and leaving a sad mess of un-toppinged, barely cheesed triangular crust.  The crust, brushed with garlic butter and maybe some other Italian seasonings, added flavor to that part of the pizza that might otherwise be a boring afterthought.  The body of the crust throughout the pizza is thin and foldable in the New York Style tradition, of which Robyn took advantage.   In this respect, this “taste of New York” truly lives up to its name.  The pizza managed to offer large slices that were very thin, yet not “floppy” which we’ve experienced with other pizzas.  There was a pretty average amount of toppings, but they tasted fresh and were cooked just right.  Overall, this pie seemed to accomplish each element of the pizza very well so that, when combined, a Top 50 pizza emerges.  

You might be wondering if this visit helped to redeem Robyn’s previous not-so-wonderful Roc-a-Fellas encounter.  In short, the answer is YES.  The sights, sounds, and smells of this place can now be associated with an overall fun and delicious evening, and, more importantly, one spent with someone awesome.  It’s a shame that Roc-a-Fellas is so far from our homes and daily lives in general, because it is definitely worthy of repeat visits.  Maybe now that we have our very own “Frequent PIE-er Miles/Regular’s Card,” we can find a good reason to swing north and get our fix of tasty New York style pizza and mouth-watering breadsticks.  

And we had all this left for the next day's lunch.
On a funny end note, the next day’s Cincinnati Savers deal was for none other than Roc-a-fella’s Pizza.  But, after saving this establishment from the forever-gloom initially imposed by one eternal douche, we will not let this irony flavor our enchanting evening in this little pizzeria, flanked by delicious food and one Space Jam pinball machine.  
One more glance at Michael, for old times' sake.

Roc-a-Fellas on Urbanspoon

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