Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jean Paul's Paradiso

I love me some Jean Paul's Paradiso. So it was a no brainer for me to pick when I was up for pizza tonight. Jean Paul's is a bakery/pizza place. I've only had things from the pizza side, so I can't comment on the bakery side except that I know of folks that love buying their goods at the Hyde Park Farmer's Market.

Let's start by taking a look at the pizzas, because as Dan commented, these are "beautiful pizzas". Dan's the blog photographer, so I'll defer to his judgement.

Sausage and Cheese Pizza

Sicilian, don't let the picture mislead you, there is a LOT of meat on this pizza!

Blackened Chicken & Alfredo Pizza, it's hard to see, but
there is a large slice of chicken breast on every slice.

Grecian Pizza (sans red union)
The pizza's to me tasted as good or better than they looked. The helpings of cheese on each pizza is VERY generous. I'm personally a big fan of lots of cheese on my pizzas. So this was ideal for me. You can also see that each pizza comes with a generous edge of crust, but do note that these are thin crust pizzas otherwise. It makes for a very nice combination and good crust was the second most commented item on everyone's survey forms.

That brings us to the most commented item about the pizza.  It is VERY VERY GREASY! I think this is a result of the very generous helpings of cheese. No one complained that it was a 'gross' greasy, but it definitely caused us all to use more than one napkin. As the pizza aged, the grease soaked into the crust making it even floppier. This made it difficult to eat some of the later slices. That being said, please don't let this stop you from trying the pizza. It's worth the grease!

The last thing I want to mention about the Jean Paul's is that Jani, who was making the pizzas, said that she had a surprise for me when I walked in. At first I was worried. I thought that perhaps one of the pizzas was done wrong. I couldn't have been any further from the truth. It turns out that Jani made us a free dessert pizza! See the picture below, which does not do it justice.

What's this??? A free dessert pizza??? Mmmmm...
What was on this pizza? Well, why don't I let Jani tell you. Just read the top of the pizza box it came in:
The free dessert pizza even came with a nice note!
The dessert pizza was served warm and was delectable. There was some debate about the crust though. It was the same crust as on the pizza. A few folks said they wished that it was more of a traditional pie crust rather than a pizza crust. To me though, that would have changed this from being a dessert pizza to a fruit pie of some sort. I'm in the camp that it was great the way it was. I should note that even the folks that wanted a different crust said that they still really liked the dessert pizza. If I were you, I'd put an order in for it when you visit Jean Paul's.

We'll wrap this up with the numeric rankings.

Taste (Overall)4.130
Sausage Pizza (Overall)3.483
Specialty Pizza4.108

Now go enjoy yourself a Jean Paul Paradiso's pizza! You won't be disappointed!

Average of Averages Update

Since we've reconstituted with eight of us (November 2012), we've hit up 12 different pizza joints. Without Melissa around, we have not been nearly as diligent about getting up posts (but Dan is spearheading the cause!). Hopefully you'll see something a bit more regular (famous last words...).

I picked up Jean Paul Paradiso's tonight and will get a post up soon. However, before we get to that, I wanted to at least put up a post showing the Average of Averages as a way to give folks an idea of what we like.  So check out the plot below (bonus points to you if you can pick out the color scheme). Note that the y-axis crossing is at 3 to help show the differences between the top and bottom pizza joints. As a reminder, this is an unweighted average of the following categories: Appearance, Aroma, Overall Taste, Crust, Cheese, Toppings, Sauce, Pepperoni/Sausage Pizza (Overall), Specialty Pizza (Overall), X-Factor, and Menu. Ratings are on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being the best.

M, Strong's Brick Oven, and Palomino are all what I'd term artisanal pizzas. So you can see that we clearly like that style. Jean Paul's Paradiso comes in tops right after the artisanal pizzas. It is also interesting to note that there does not seem to be any trend (i.e. we aren't getting easier or harder on the pizza joints).  For comparison, we'll follow the Average of Average's plot with the average across everyone's Overall Taste rating. Unsurprisingly, it tracks the Average of Averages well. Interestingly, the overall numbers are just a touch higher.

As a final set of data, below is the average X-Factor rating for each location. You can see that Jean Paul's did very well, mostly because of the free dessert pizza they gave us (without knowing we were rating the pizzas). What interests me the most about the plot below is the large spread in scores relative to the earlier plots.  There also does seem to be a trend toward higher x-factors. I wonder if that will continue...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review of Palomino Pizza

Palomino's is a chain Italian restaurant. It's mainly known for its pasta and other Italian dishes. They also have pizza that I've never tried, so this week I ordered pizza from there.
Bacon and Artichoke

Sausage, Peppers, and Olives

Roasted Chicken with Veggies

Calamari (yep, they forgot to add the calamari)

Sausage and Onions
First impression was that the pizzas were really really thin - maybe a little thicker than a tortilla. But, these pizzas might have the best toppings that I've had in a while. The roasted chicken was juicy. The veggies and the sausage was good too. If it were up to me, I'd give it a solid 5 for toppings. There wasn't a huge selection (I basically bought one of each one on the menu), but the limited selections were thoughtful and tasty. Keep in mind, this isn't a pizza joint. It's mainly a pasta restaurant that happens to have pizza.

I'm mixed about the crust. On one hand, the crust was crispy and thin enough that even after the pizza cooled for a little bit, the crust didn't get tough or soggy. On the other, I've probably got to eat a whole pizza (maybe more) to feel full. I'm saying like, a Chipotle burrito probably weighs more than a pizza from here. If you can get past the thinness of Palomino's crust, you'll enjoy some really nice toppings. Not everyone was as bothered by the crust as I was, which you can see in the ratings below. I'm not sure I'll be back there again for pizza, but it was nice to have some premium toppings, which some places seem to skimp on.

Average 3.959
Appearance 4.03
Aroma 3.538
Taste (Overall) 4.138
Crust 4.06
Cheese 3.52
Toppings 4.54
Sauce 3.79
Pepperoni Pizza (Overall) 3.7
Specialty Pizza 4.32
X-Factor 4.32
Menu 4.188

Monday, January 7, 2013

Strong's Brick Oven Pizza

We all gathered one last time in 2012, sans a few lost to the dark abyss of lab experiments. Pizza was delivered to our downtown apartment from Strong's Brick Oven Pizza, who boasts a pizza voted #1 in America during the early years of 1994-1995.

Curious, we decided to give it a shot and check out this seemingly tasty creation called the Pizza Alla Vodka, along with the pepperoni control (which, by the way will transform to sausage starting in 2013) and a traditional meat pizza.
While not many commented on the more prevalent pepperoni and meat pizza combo, the vodka sauce on the pizza was highly rated, along with the crust that seemed to be the perfect blend between thickness, texture, and taste. Besides the vodka sauce pizza, the other sauces and combinations seemed lackluster, although the crust managed to carry each overall pizza taste.

To top off the meal, we elected to indulge in their pumpkin desert pizza special, which was incredibly tasty and received a multitude of praises from a few of the clubbers as well. Together with delectable holiday Ghirardelli chocolate squares Maud brought along, suffice to say, it was an enjoyable pizza experience -- 2013 pizza here we come!

Taste (Overall)4.113
Pepperoni Pizza (Overall)3.263
Specialty Pizza4.348

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Village Tavern Pizza (aka Village Pizza)

Last Tuesday, Tricia and I took the day off to do some Christmas shopping.  Since I was due to host pizza night, we decided to see wherever our Christmas shopping took us in the afternoon and pick up pizza from around there.  It ended up that we were out by Eastgate Mall around 5 in the evening and decided to fire up the Google Maps App (thank goodness we don't have to rely on the Apple Map app anymore!).  Unfortunately, it didn't seem like there were very many good choices beyond Domino's, Pizza Hut and the like (leave a comment if you have recommendations from out that way!).  So we decided to see if there was anything between Eastgate and our place in Mt. Lookout.  Tricia remembered seeing a place with a sign of Village Pizza on our way out to Eastgate.  So we googled and found Village Pizza (I'm also seeing it listed as Village Tavern Pizza) in Newtown.

Unfortunately we couldn't find a website, but we were able to find a menu that someone posted on Urban Spoon. So we looked it over and called in to place our order.  Unfortunately as soon as I started to place my order I ran into problems.  Most of the things listed on the menu weren't served any more (yes I realize I'm using 'unfortunate' a lot!).  They no longer had their largest size pizzas.  The guy on the phone (who sounded like he may have been in high school), wasn't particularly helpful when I asked if he could provide me with what they did have.  Eventually we did get an order placed though (One Pepperoni, one Hawaiian, one Meat Lover's, and one Sausage and Banana Peppers).

Fortunately, there were no snafus in picking up the pizza.  Village Pizza is a carry out (or delivery) only place.  There is no place to sit inside the pizza joint. However, it is in a building attached to the Newtown Village Tavern.  It looked like the pub food for the tavern was made by Village Pizza and then carried over. I didn't actually go into the Tavern, but it's there if you wanted to try a dine-in experience. After paying, we drove the rest of the way home and stuck the pizzas in the oven at 200F to keep them warm (we are a perpetually late group of people.  Folks arrived about 20 minutes after  I put the pizzas in the oven.  We pulled them out, Dan snapped some photos and we ate!


Meat Lovers
Pepperoni (with the pepperoni under the cheese)
Sausage and Banana Pepper

Overall, Village Pizza went down well.  Everyone talked about enjoying the pizza, and in particular the toppings.  I think for a place that serves as a kitchen for a bar, they did a great job on the toppings.  As you can see from the pictures, the pizzas were cooked very well - cheese is well melted with just a bit of caramelization.  In an interesting move, the Hawaiian was prepared as pineapple and bacon instead of pineapple and ham.  This struck me because the Meat Lovers has both bacon and ham.  I think it was a good move though as the bacon was my favorite topping.  It's bacon how I remember it growing up, cut small, cooked so that it is crispy and recognizes that it is bacon and doesn't try to be pretentious about it.  Guillaume pointed out that he was also a fan of the bacon being cooked to the point of being a little crunch.

Several folks pointed out that the pizza sauce was quite good.  It was in the 'sweet' variety of pizza sauces (as opposed to the spicy).  This really came through on the pepperoni pizza, which was good but really had a minimal amount of spice to it because the pepperoni itself was not overwhelming and nor was the sauce.  In some ways, the pepperoni probably didn't taste too differently from what a cheese pizza might have tasted like,

Since the crust was thin, it suffered from a common problem of most thin crust pizzas in that it's quality degraded as the pizza cooled.  Tricia noted that while she liked the crust it became a bit doughy in the center and Maud described it as "chewy" as it cooled.  Having taken some leftovers in with me for lunch, I can say that the crust would be the weak part of the pizza.  That being said, I really thought this was a solid pizza overall, especially coming from a bar setting.  That assessment is upheld when we look at the numbers.

Appearance 3.200
Aroma 3.302
Taste (Overall) 3.30
Crust 3.002
Cheese 3.093
Toppings 3.362
Sauce 3.250
Pepperoni Pizza (Overall) 3.210
Specialty Pizza 3.357
X-factor 2.917
Menu 3.250

Overall, you're looking a good but not great pizza.  Would I get it again though?  Certainly if I were in the area.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New York Style Pizza (Reading road)

I (Maud) wanted to eat a New York style pizza since I just came back from New York (hahaha!). So I picked the “New York Style Pizza” in Reading road.
The place does only carry out, most people in, ordered the gyros, I will try them next time. The place was packed. So we picked up the pizzas and enjoyed them at home.
We found the pizzas were average, actually, more than average for most of us.
I must say that I didn’t expect much, I don't know why, but I was very surprised. I found the pizzas very tasty, well a little bit too salty sometimes. I also enjoyed the crust, very crunchy.
Most of us had a preference for the white pizza.

(Hey, thanks Dan, for your great pictures)

The average ratings were as follows:
Appearance 3.520
Aroma 3.667
Taste (Overall) 3.560
Crust 3.380
Cheese 3.160
Toppings 3.340
Sauce 2.800
Pepperoni Pizza (Overall) 3.390
Specialty Pizza 3.580
X-factor 3.400
Menu 2.913

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jets is in Town (not the NY kind)

So, we're new comers to the Cincinnati Pizza Club. As such, I tried to pick a place that CPC hasn't picked before. Tonight, we selected Jets Pizza, which is a chain that started in Michigan and has made its way to the states below including Ohio and Kentucky. I've enjoyed it many times in my treks up to Big Blue, so I was curious how it'd fare with the crowd here.

My Opinion: Pretty solid pizza. The kind you'd munch on while watching a movie or a sporting event. Not top shelf pizza, but like a good friend, it's comforting and has enough grease to know that you're eating pizza. You can make the crust zesty with cajun flavor, which is a plus for me.

We had three pies: 

Pepperoni (the control), sausage+onion+banana pepper (a favorite last time), and veggie deep dish (my favorite).



Sausage and Banana Peppers
The pizza was well received, and most folks pointed out how Jets seemed pretty generous with the cheese (+1). Jets wins me over because you can flavorize your crust with different flavors like cajun spices, garlic, butter, romano, etc. It adds a nice variable that lets you tweak your pizza experience more. I love customization (are you listening Dominos?).

The ratings tonight were as follows:

Taste (Overall)
Toppings 3.710
Sauce 3.380
Pepperoni Pizza (Overall) 3.830
Specialty Pizza 3.700
X-factor 3.750
Menu 2.975

Jets Pizza fared well in the categories of "taste," "crust," and "cheese" while being low in the menu offerings (nothing really exotic or original on the menu) and in the sauce (honestly don't remember what the sauce tasted like). I'm thinking the sauce could be a little bit punchier, but that's a small complaint.

It's a good, satisfying pie. Did it win over the hearts of CPC? Only time will tell.