Friday, April 13, 2012

Mastering the Art of the Pony Keg Pizza at Trotta's

Twelfth Stop: Trotta’s Pizza and Drive Thru
Date:  April 6th, 2012
Location: 3501 Werk Road  Cincinnati, OH 45248
Ranking: 37

We had been waiting for the ideal time to try this drive-thru on the Westside, and this Friday night seemed as good as any.  With some rented movies and a comfortable couch awaiting us, we made the trek across the city together.  We phoned in our order on the way. 

Essentially, Trotta’s offers two completely different types of pizza:  Sicilian and Traditional.  The Sicilian is a rectangular-shaped, thick-crusted pizza with large, puffy edges.  The Traditional is on the thinner side, and round.  With these two different types of pizza, all kinds of varieties are offered, including both specialty pies and an impressive list of ingredients to build your own creation.  And then, there is the Lotta Trotta.  By our estimates, this is a gargantuan version of a Sicilian pizza, though we do not know its precise dimensions; they are not listed on the drive-thru’s site.  From pictures and confirmations from friends, we understand that this menu item lives up to its name.  However, we will have to wait until next time to find out for sure.
On the left, Sicilian-style goetta pizza.  On the right, a traditional style bacon spinach pizza.

On this night, we thought it best to order two completely different pies.  Variety is always nice, plus we find it more suitable for blogging purposes.  On an 18” Traditional crust, we selected the Bacon Spinach pizza, which featured red onion, Roma tomatoes, black pepper, garlic, provolone, and a ranch sauce in addition to those titular key ingredients. Robyn noticed quite a bit of minced garlic on her leftover slices the next day, which could be a make or break feature if you care about how your breath smells throughout the next 24 hours after eating this pizza. All of us agreed that this pizza was AWESOME. 
We like it, a lotta.

The creamy ranch sauce was slightly tangy, and really complimented the medley of ingredients atop the pizza.  The toppings were incredibly fresh.  Leaves of fresh spinach laid flat under the other, more bulky ingredients, thin slices of red onion wove their way between the giant chunks of thick bacon, and the cheese successfully brought (and kept) all of these pieces together.  The crust had a buttery taste to it, which, is always delicious.  It was firm to the touch and crispy on the outside but, once you took a bite, incredibly soft and chewy on the inside.  This was definitely our favorite.

To accompany the Bacon Spinach, we chose a one-topping Large Sicilian.  Our topping of choice:  goetta.  That’s right, folks, Trotta’s offers goetta in their exceptional list of pizza toppers. We knew this from the initial Cincinnati Magazine blurb, and had always planned to take advantage of its availability when the time came.  We love goetta (in fact, Robyn was once dubbed The Goetta Princess), and had only had it on pizza at the annual Goettafest extravaganza.  None of us were sure of what would best compliment the goetta (maybe tomatoes?), so we made the executive decision to leave it at that.  We are sad to say that we were a little disappointed.
As aforementioned, the Sicilian pizza is much bulkier in the crust.  Combined with the strong Italian, zesty flavor of Trotta’s pizza sauce, the goetta didn’t stand a chance.  The goetta is crumbled on top of the cheese.  Normally the taste of goetta is an independent one but, in this case, it was kind of lost in the shuffle.  We noticed that the edge pieces of the pizza versus those cut from the center offered a different experience to the eater.  The edges, again, are just so thick and doughy; in the middle, the taste of the goetta shone through a bit more.  Somehow we found that this pizza grew better as we ate more.  Leftovers heated up exceptionally well, and made it more acceptable for one to want pizza for breakfast (goetta IS primarily a breakfast food, after all).  This wasn’t our favorite, but we are glad that we gave it a shot.

In closing, we’d like to say a few words about the drive-thru itself.  Trotta’s is a true drive-thru service, offering soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and snacks in addition to their fresh baked pizzas.  We had heard that the service was exceptional, and those reviews were correct.  We were quickly in and out, despite a line a few cars deep when we arrived.  These people work hard and fast, and immediately offered to stick our giant pizzas in the backseat.  Thank goodness, too, as we had already discussed our fear of having a pizza handed to us through the car window.  We wish we had a Trotta’s in our neighborhood so we could frequent this pony-keg establishment more often.  Seriously, how awesome is the drive-thru concept?  Having a get-together and need more beer?  Got a sleeping baby in the backseat?  Wearing hideous sweatpants or pajamas?  The pizza drive-thru is your best friend.  And we hope someday soon to meet up with it again, along with that scrumptious Bacon Spinach pie.

Trotta's Pizza & Drive Thru on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Back to the Good Life

Eleventh Stop: Buona Vita Pizzeria
Date:  March 24th, 2012
Location: 441 6th Avenue Dayton, KY 41074
Ranking: 12
Perhaps when Rivers Cuomo, of the band Weezer, lamented that he wanted to “get back to the good life,” a tasty Italian experience is what he yearned for, along with all that shakin’ booty and makin’ sweet love mentioned in the song The Good Life. After all, what’s NOT to love about enjoying a relaxing Saturday afternoon with friends over a delicious pizza or two?  It is the good life, or “buona vita” in Italian, that the Frommeyer brothers and their extended community of family and guests seek, and they seem to be doing a great job fulfilling that mission here in Dayton, Kentucky.

With its location just down the street from a dear friend’s house, this restaurant has always been on a mental to-do list for Robyn.  It seemed as if everyone BUT her had gotten a chance to enjoy the food at Buona Vita at least once before, Courtney included.  Residing in an old bank building in Dayton, KY, the restaurant offers a full menu of classic Italian cuisine amidst a quaint, unique atmosphere.  It is a fantastic place to take a date or to catch up with an old friend.  We were seated in the spacious booth called “The Vault,” which used to be the actual vault from the bank that was formerly housed in the building.  The gorgeous door to the vault hangs open, giving other diners a peek into the cozy and secluded little spot.  It is our understanding that many people make reservations specifically for the vault, but as luck would have it, none had been made during our spontaneous visit.  So in we went!
Our view from the vault.

 There were two special guests on this visit-Matt and Bridget.  It’s nice to vary the routine from time to time, and we also relished the possibility of trying more pizza than we would if it had been just the two of us.  This also made the vault seating a little more sensical – it would be a pretty large dining spot for just two people.  Four diners v. two does provide some slight complications, such as ordering food that everyone agrees upon, and splitting the leftovers and the bill fairly.  However, it was worth it to let Matt and Bridget gain the experience that is Top This while spending some quality time with one another.  We are sure that they agree :)
Matt and Bridget, basking in the honor of special guest-dom
Our waiter was patient with us as we negotiated our selections.  We ended up going with two selections.  The Calabrese is described simply as extra hot pepperoni pizza and the other is a variation of the Pewee’s Pizza Bianco.  Believe it or not, we are having trouble remembering its exact name and cannot find it anywhere online.  We know that it builds upon the Bianco, which is a white pizza featuring oil, Italian spices, cheese, and spinach.  This particular pie adds prosciutto and (we think) black olives to the mix.  It was possibly called the Giuseppe, or the Bianco Giuseppe, but we are not 100%.  Generally on our outings, one of us tries to write down the pizza name, featured ingredients, and some quick, immediate notes.  With our special guests there, we seemed to forgo this busy work for good conversation; well, if we are honest, for immature jokes and end-of-week venting. 

As we waited for our pizza delivery, Courtney and Matt split an appetizer of mozzarella filled breadsticks, “Little Joey’s Cheese Filled”, which they really enjoyed.  These were an indulgent treat.  We know that fried bread and cheese is not good for you, but we don’t care because we like it.  It wasn’t long after they finished these up that our cute tattooed waiter carried over two piping-hot-out-of-the-stone-oven pizzas.   
Bread.  Cheese.  Yummmm.
 We first present you with a warning:  The Calabrese is not for the faint of heart.  We just could not handle the overpowering heat from the spicy pepperoni, as much as we tried.  Robyn tried peeling the pepperoni and cheese off the top in a last ditch effort to not waste any of the crust, but it just wasn’t possible.  The oil from the pepperoni soaks through to every last bit, making every bite of the pizza incredibly spicy.  Courtney ate a bite, took a drink, ate a bite, took a drink (repeat).  It didn’t help.  Matt and Bridget are built from a stronger heat threshold, and enjoyed that pie a lot more than either of us did.  This was good, because we would have felt bad about wasting so much pizza.  The thing is, if it wasn’t so damn hot, we think it would have been really awesome.  They were not loosely using the term “spicy” on their menu.  If you’re a fan of really spicy food and can handle it, you will probably LOVE this pizza!  All of the great pizza elements are there, but if you can’t get your taste buds past the heat, that’s all you’ll be able to focus on. 
Hot hot heat.
 The other pizza, the “Giuseppe”, we’ll say, was much more enjoyable to both of us.  The lightly charred, crisp-bottom crust was nearly cracker thin and maintained a light crunch under the fresh, tasty toppings.  The prosciutto was salty, as it should be, but not overwhelming (like the Fratelli’s sausage).  The cheese was buttery and well spiced with Italian herbs, and the spinach was daintily placed on top, cut into teensy tiny thin strips.  While Robyn typically prefers a doughier, thicker crust, she still enjoyed this pizza.  Courtney prefers thin crust pizza, and this was thin on a new level.  It’s so thin that it seems it would be easy to burn to a crisp.  Rather, Buona Vita has perfected their cooking methods through an opulent heritage of food and technique. 
The pizza with the name we can't remember. 

The pizza at Buona Vita is made with the “labor of love”; the way all great pizzerias craft their wares.  They describe their rich family history, daily food preparations, and ingredients in a brief narrative on the menu.  In short, the recipes, which originate from family in Italy, have been handed down from multiple generations and made with great care in the restaurant named after the Bonavita family.  A stone oven, reaching 600 degrees, cooks the made-to-order pizzas and calzones to traditional perfection for the hungry crowds that gather in this welcoming atmosphere.  Though we didn’t have any of their homemade cookies or desserts, we have heard great things about them from friends and web reviews.  Next time, we’ll take advantage of these traditional Italian sweets after taking pleasure in more of this crispy, flavorful thin crust pizza.  But, you can bet your spicy-hot bottom dollar that it won’t be the Calabrese.   

Buona Vita Pizzeria on Urbanspoon