Monday, February 11, 2013

Getting Cozy at Ferrari's

Date: January 26th, 2012
Location: 7677 Goff Terrace Madeira, OH
Ranking:  13

We’re halfway there, and still truckin’! Twenty-five stops into our pizza journey, we arrived at Ferrari’s on a sunny Saturday afternoon in January.  Though our side of the parking lot had seemed forebodingly empty, there was quite a bustling little crowd inside the restaurant, complete with large families, small groups of friends, and even an older man whom the staff addressed by name.  It was this atmosphere, accompanied by the d├ęcor and the bakery, which gave this spot a warm, friendly, authentic feeling.  A large, painted fireplace protruded from the wall adjacent to our table, and was a stunning addition to the traditional Italian-themed furnishings.  We would’ve shared a photo of this, but didn’t want to creep out the people dining directly in front of that spot.    

We made reservations for our visit through Open Table, but seemingly they were unnecessary for this time of day on a Saturday afternoon.  During peak dinner hours, it’s likely that your reservations would be needed to snag a table, but neither of us have been during that time.  They have special lunch and dinner hours, so you will want to check this out ahead of time if you plan to go. 

Our server brought us some complimentary Italian sliced bread, topped with sesame seeds, and some soft butter.  The bread was pretty unremarkable, considering we were dining in a bakery, but it was a good to munch on while we waited on our order.  The pizzas are single serving size, so we took the opportunity to order two different pizzas off the menu and share, as we are wont to do in such a situation.  Courtney fiddled with the idea of ordering a salad but, in the end, decided against one.  She regretted this soon after, as she saw servers delivering pretty mounds of green to neighboring tables; the salads looked very, very good.  Don't make her mistake!

At the recommendation of Cincinnati Magazine, one of our selections was the Mediterranean Pizza.  The other, a unique twist on “pizza” for sure, was the Thai Chicken Pizza that piqued Robyn’s interest in particular.      

Thai in the front, Mediterranean in the back

The Mediterranean was a little different from Mediterranean-styled pies that either of us have had in the past.  Similar to most, it is heavy with delicious and fresh toppings, including quartered artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, hunks of mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, spinach leaves, garlic, and feta all resting atop an olive oil base.  It is infused with a blend of tasty spices and balsamic.  The balsamic flavor is powerful, and something that makes this particular Mediterranean-themed pizza different from those of our previous experiences.  Though it was very good, the strong balsamic-y flavor was one that grew "old" after a couple slices.  It was just a little too tangy to keep going.  Lucky for us, at this point we were able to switch to another!

The top-heavy Mediterranean
The Thai Chicken Pizza was the favorite for both of us with its charred-crust bottom and julienne-d array of veggies.  Aside from the chicken marinated in peanut-ginger sauce, this pizza boasted sesame seeds, smoked gouda and mozzarella cheeses, onions, carrots, cilantro, chopped peanuts, and crushed red pepper.  Although those veggies were super fresh, and sliced into perfectly manageable little morsels, they were not so great when reheated as a meal later on in the toaster oven.  This seems to be a testament to the freshness of the toppings used.  While this pie is pretty far from traditional, it was very tasty.  The flavors and textures combined in a way that satisfied the adventurous eater and the comfort food cravings of the pizza lover all at once.     

The colorful Thai Chicken Pizza

Up close and pizza-nal

Not only is the name of this warm, romantic little establishment a mouthful—its pizzas and Italian fare offer up plenty of things you just can’t help but get a mouthful of as well.  On your way in, and as you leave, you are forced to walk by a bakery case full of goodies, and possibly a worker or two kneading bread or preparing pizza dough.  Smartypants Ferrari's folks; they know you won't pass up the opportunity to snag some cookies, or the day-old bread that tempts you with a sign marked "$2".  It was a silent agreement that we would stop at the bakery counter on the way out; we know each other well enough to understand that neither could ever walk by a bakery without, at the very least, indulging in one cookie.  We both purchased some, and Courtney grabbed a loaf of the day-old salty rye as well.  In order of preference, most preferred to least, the cookies we tasted were:  1)  Black & White cookie (sugar, one half dipped in chocolate and the other in white chocolate), 2) White Chocolate Macadamia, 3) Chocolate Chip, 4) Red Velvet.  Red Velvet is last mostly because it was hard.  If it had been super soft and moist, as we had expected, it might have ranked higher.  Next time, we think we'll go with the Chocolate Chip half-dipped in chocolate.  Oh, and some more of that salty rye - it was fantastic. 

We definitely recommend Ferrari's.  Cozy atmosphere, tasty pizza of unique varieties, a multitude of other Italian-centric dishes, and a bakery to send some dessert home with you.  If you celebrate Valentine's Day, this would be a nice little place to take that special someone.  Though, you might be a little late in the game for those reservations, especially if you want the prime seat by the warm, rustic-looking fireplace.  Or, if it's too late to dine in, at least stop by the bakery to get a sweet treat for your sweetheart.  

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ferrari's Little Italy and Bakery on Urbanspoon