Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pizza, Fire, and Art!

Enrico's Pizza and Restaurant
5788 Frantz Road
Dublin, Ohio 43016
September 19, 2009
6ish pm

My husband and I were looking for more of a low key dining out experience before going downtown to see Waterfire and explore the Riverfront Arts Festival. We thought a mom and pop pizza place would be just the ticket and had heard Enrico's just might fit the bill. A friend of ours had insisted we put it on our evergrowing list of restaurants to try and as I looked up reviews online I noticed, by far, the majority were favorable; with one even stating the pizza was the best they've ever had, even when comparing it to pizza from Sicily! If this is pizza better than how the Sicilian's do it, then I need to try it :)

As you walk in the restaurant the first thing I noticed was the wonderful smell of a true pizzeria. This is the smell of a blend of homemade crust baking, family dining, and Italian spices. While those big named chains can crank out a decent pizza, the places just don't have the same smell. It took me back to this pizza place my parents would take me to on Friday nights, named Chester's. I remember standing in line to order our pizza, my head just reaching the top of the counter, and smelling this same smell. Then we'd walk back to dark wooden tables to patiently (actually impatiently and complaining was probably more the case since I was 5-7 years old, but that's beside the point) wait for the pizza to be brought out. I also remember how awesome I thought it was that this restaurant actually had TVs in it. Can you imagine now being impressed by TVs in a restaurant? How things have changed, and how old does saying things like this make me feel! But I digress, back to Enrico's.

The server told us to sit wherever and then another server quickly came over to take our drink orders. She was possibly the mother of the family because she was definitely professional, friendly, and seemed invested in the place. She knew her job and did it well.

A weird quirk of mine is absolutely having to have some sort of soft drink with pizza and Coke is definitely my preference. I just can't drink anything else with it; so that's what I ordered. The husband is much more flexible and thought an Italian beer would be fitting, so he ordered a Peroni. We took a minute to look around the place and noticed that the place was busy, but not overly crowded. There were about 8 couples, mainly people in their 30's and up enjoying what seemed to be "date night". There was one family with kids. The restuarant definitely had a family friendly vibe, but this night it was mostly couples. It seemed like many people were regulars and knew the family. You could see the grandmother (at least I assume it was the grandmother) cooking in the back, while the mother chatted up a few of the guests and ensured they were having an enjoyable time. If you're looking for a mom and pop classic pizzeria, this is definitely your place!

We then went over the menu and the typical Italian entrees of spaghetti and lasagna definitely tempted us, but overall we decided we came here for the pizza and that's what we were going to try! We both got side salads, mine with ranch and Erik's with house made Italian. We couldn't agree on pizza toppings so I decided to go vegetarian on my half with onions, green peppers, and black olives; while Erik went with capicola on his half. I was happy to see such authentically Italian topping choices.

Our salads came out quickly and we immediately dug in. The salad was very basic with iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, and a tomato. My ranch was a packet of Marzetti's. I'm never fond of restaurants presenting dressing this way. I realize most restaurants don't make all of their dressings homemade, but is it really too difficult to either put the dressing on the salad or serve it in a ramekin on the side? To me, this extra minute of prep work helps presentation and the overall vibe of the restaurant. Getting a packet of dressing in a restaurant just reminds me too much of a fast food chain. But while this is a negative to me I do realize I'm being pretty picky, and it's definitely not something that makes or breaks my experience either :)

Erik's homemade Italian dressing was served on his salad and we both sampled it. It had a surprisingly sweeter taste than most Italian dressings. However, the sweetness coupled with the oil were really the only flavors that came through for me. Overall, the taste was fairly bland. I would have preferred more Italian spices. Erik agreed.

My ranch was classic (Thanks Marzetti's!) and overall my salad was a typical side salad. Not bad, not great.

We finished our salads and our pizza was out momentarily. The pizza looked great and as you picked up your slice there were those great strings of melted cheese hanging on. I couldn't wait to try it. Of course I tried my veggie side first and I really hate to say it, but I was disappointed. The crust was great with a nice crunch, not too thick and not too thin. The cheese was perfectly ooey and gooey. The veggies were well cooked and not too heavily or skimpily topped. However, everything together just did not make me feel like this was the best pizza ever, or really anything close. It definitely wasn't bad, but I've had many better (including those in Italy)! I tried to think about what was missing, what was wrong, why I didn't love this pizza and I just couldn't place it right away. I decided to try a piece of my husband's side while I contemplated...

Now this is what pizza is all about. Erik's side obviously had the same nice crust and ooey gooey cheese. However, his was topped with the capicola which added a wonderful spiciness to the pizza. This was what was missing on my side! Not the meat (even though it was definitely high quality and I'd love to know who the supplier is), but the extra spice in the capicola added the flavor punch that my side didn't have. Enrico's seems to use basic, good quality crust, sauce, and cheese as a blank canvas for the spiced meat toppings (or maybe they were just out of Italian seasonings this day given the same problem with the dressing :) ). But this strategy works out wonderfully when you order a pizza with meat, but not as fabulously on a veggie pizza. If they asked me, and I'm not sure they would really care about my opinion since, based on the reviews, so many people love their pizza. But if they did, I would tell them to leave their meat topped pizza alone. It's done completely right. But if someone orders cheese only or veggie toppings, take a couple more seconds to shake on some Italian spices! We need flavor. This could help elevate their vegetarian pizzas to the same satisfaction level of their meat pizzas.

We downed the majority of our large pizza, paid, and took off in just enough time to make it downtown, park and run to the river to see the lighting of waterfire. Sorry about the picture quality, Waterfire did look more impressive than this in person.
I had heard about Waterfire sometime last summer, but missed it every time. I was happy we finally were able to make it to one this season. But I must say it wasn't what I had expected. Somehow I had anticipated a bigger fire display or maybe it organized more artfully. However, it still was very nice and something different to experience in Columbus. It kind of reminded me of a city version of the bonfires people have when they're camping or just hanging out in someone's backyard. Groups of friends, families, and couples all sat on the riverbank, talked, and watched the fire. Erik and I took a moment to first stand on the bridge and take the display in and then we moved down to the riverbank to sit for awhile and enjoy the warm glow close up. On a cool evening, sitting close to a fire is so comforting, homey, and relaxing! After we had our fill of the fire (and before the food coma from the pizza could sit in) we walked back up the riverbank to walk through the arts festival. I must say this is definitely one of Columbus's more classier festivals and for a minute I thought that surely I was in a different city. The opera was putting on a free performance which we enjoyed for a few minutes before progressing on. There was a wine booth and a mixed drinks vendor. We ordered 2 glasses of their white wine and it was so nice to sip as we strolled through the art booths and heard opera singing in the background. Now this reminded me of being in Italy. A perfect end to an evening out!

Bill total (for Enrico's only): 2 Peroni's, Coke, 2 side salads, large pizza, and tip: $37

Bill total (for Arts Festival): 2 glasses of white wine: $8

Overall Rating for Enrico's: 3 buckeyes

Overall Rating for and evening in Columbus: 4 buckeyes

Enrico's Pizza on Urbanspoon

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