Thursday, July 26, 2012

ZZ's, Definitely Not Top

Nineteenth Stop: ZZ’s Pizza Company
Date: June 21, 2012
Location: 2401 Gilbert Avenue  Cincinnati, OH 45206
Ranking: 42

ZZ’s Pizza Company falls in the bottom 10 of the top 50 list and, after our visit there, we doubt that its ranking is influenced by pizza alone.  We’ll be up front:  the service sucked, the wait for our pizza was long, and there were some sort of flies or gnats all over the place.  One even landed on Robyn’s “lip gloss,” which Courtney immediately clarified, “You should have just said your lip, not lip gloss.  Don’t try to make it sound like it was not as gross as it was.”  Yeah, it landed on my actual lip, and stuck there on my lip gloss.  How’s that for appetizing?    

It’s a shame, really; our pizza was actually quite good.  However, by the time we were finally able to eat it, frustrations had mounted and we had trouble easily enjoying it.  Dining out, especially for pizza, should not be a stressful experience.  Often, the most difficult aspect of our pizza outings is deciding what to order.  On this day, we were speedy and submitted our order almost immediately.  Opting to try something different, we selected a two topping 16-incher with salami and banana peppers.  The pricing at ZZ’s is very reasonable.  There are a variety of specialty pizzas at prearranged pricing, but you also have the option to build your own pizza, with low base prices and topping prices quoted by the size of your pie. 

When we ordered our pizza, we also ordered two Cokes.  Our server delivered them to our table pretty quickly, and returned to making his rounds at the other tables.  We both took a drink, and grimaced at each other: the Cokes were flat.  Let me try to convey how disgusting our Cokes tasted-Robyn says she would probably rather have guzzled some hot dog juice from the Speedway roller grills at around 3 am than drink what was in her glass.  Oh well, it happens.  The next time our server stopped by, we would ask him for new drinks, tell him the tap needed changing, the carbonation was bad, whatever.  Trouble was, it was a full half hour before our server returned to our table.  Not once in that time did he walk by our table or even really look our way.  There were a couple quick glances back, but every time it seemed like he was trying to avoid eye contact with us.  It was weird and frustrating.  He was busy, sure.  It’s not like he was hanging out behind the bar, or with his feet planted in front of a TV watching the game (we have seen these things happen before).  However, he clearly was not taking the time to check on us.  At one point, he started walking towards our table.  We became excited at the thought of fresh drinks but, alas, he stopped at the table just behind us, grabbed a signed check from an empty table, and turned back around.  What the heck?

The server did not return to our table until he brought our pizza.  The pizza was fresh out of the oven, but it was also more than thirty minutes since we had ordered it.  That struck us as a fairly long preparation time, considering the following.  When we went to Bourbon House Pizza a couple months back, our server warned us that it would be a long wait for our deep-dish pizza, which must go through two phases of baking.  That wait was under 30 minutes.  This traditional two-topping was over that.  But, then again, perhaps this annoyance was heightened by our disappointment with the service. 

When we explained that our drinks were flat, and we’d like new ones, we were told that they were fresh out of Coke.  What?  How does that happen?  And might we have gotten refills if he had returned to our table sooner?  Probably.  As it were, we both ordered waters, which we probably just should have done in the first place.  After pointing out, ever so nicely, that we felt like ignored patrons, our server became extremely nice.  He smiled a lot, became almost giggly, and checked on us a number of times.  It seemed that he felt badly, which was slightly redeeming.  We didn’t request it, but he rightly didn’t charge us for our soft drinks.  We tipped him fairly, but that’s it. 

Since this is a pizza blog, we should point out that ZZ’s does dole out some yummy pizza.  The crust was chewy at the edges, the combination of toppers (reminder: salami and banana peppers) was a surprisingly good choice, and the cheese was cooked to the perfect degree, melted and with pretty brown broiled spots on top.  The leftovers, always something to consider, heated up well in the toaster oven.  ZZ’s was busy the whole time we were there, both with dine-in patrons and carryout orders that were picked up at the bar.  It’s clear that some people love ZZ’s Pizza Company, and it’s sad that our feelings about the pizza are an afterthought.  

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