RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat)
(trying to give Zomato a chance, but not liking it so far)
My Zomato review of Sorrento's Pizza in Norwood
There is a lot to like at Sorrentos Pizza in Norwood (not to be confused with Sorrentos in Reading) but there are some issues with consistent food quality and pricing that are holding this storied institution from the greatness that could be theirs
The pizza here is somewhat thick-crusted, which is not my favorite style, but if you prefer that style I believe you will like their pizza here. The selection of pastas is rather small for an italian eatery, with only red-sauced spaghetti, ravioli, manicotti, and lasagna available -- no alfredo, no clams, no chicken, and no wine/butter/oil-and-garlic based preparations at all. In addition to the above, there are also a handful of hoagie-style sandwiches, some salads and soups, a few appetizers, and a half dozen desserts. The place appears to be family owned and family run, which I generally consider a big plus. They have a front dining room that serves double duty as a "softball hall of fame" full of trophies, photos, and other memorabilia from great local softball teams. Dark wooden floors and kitschy decorations all over the walls makes for a very interesting and unique space to eat in.
The best news is that their red sauce, the traditional lifeblood of any neighborhood italian eatery like they are, is fantastic. Rich, full bodied, neither thick nor thin, more savory and herb-y than sweet - I'd say this is one of the best red sauces to be found in the Cincinnati area, and they deserve to get plenty of business on this basis alone. I rated them a point and a half higher on this basis alone. That said, however, there seems to be some problems with consistency day to day, almost as if (and this is purely a guess here) different recipes are used by different cooks on different days.
Pricing and portioning is a very real and very big problem here. An 8inch plain pizza will run you 9.00, while a 16inch pizza for the family can run as high as 23.00. A tiny loaf of garlic bread, not even enough for two diners, runs 4.00, and a dollar more if you want cheese on it and/or sauce for dipping (trust me - you do). The lasagna is very good, and includes a salad and a few bites of bread, but at 12.50 it is priced at least three dollars higher than it should be for the portion size. The meatball sandwich at 8.50 was enjoyable once I moved all of the meat to one half of the sandwich and ate that, but for 8.50 there should have been enough for the whole sandwich, especially with Betta's just down the street being absolutely packed with large meatballs for 2.50 less. I should add that when I asked for onions to be added to this sandwich, I was told I'd be charged a dollar extra. I didn't argue to point and simply didn't add the onions after all, but these are thrown in as a freebie on this sandwich anywhere else I can think of.
The pricing is even more perplexing given the neighborhood and parking situation. The neighborhood is low income with a lot of homes within easy walking distance, and parking is in a fairly small and poorly maintained lot that is not connected to the restaurant, and there do not not appear to be enough parking spaces in his lot to allow them to fill their fairly large dining room. As a result, I would think the business strategy should be to target carryout lunches for hungry workers from local businesses during the business day, and the low income families in the neighborhood for evenings and weekends. In both cases, I believe that the price point needs to be much lower, but they don't even have a lunch menu; and I do not think this neighborhood is well served by 9 dollar plates of spaghetti, 8 dollar sandwiches, or 20+ dollar pizzas
This is the kind of place that I really, really want to like, particularly given how good their red sauce (usually) is; but at these prices for these portions my meal money generally goes elsewhere
RE: WhereToEat: Cincinnati and N.Ky (open chat)
Giordano's to Cincinnati?!
Giordano's, the 52-unit chain, known for a stuffed, deep-dish pizza that takes 45 minutes to make and days to consume, is scouting sites in Cincinnati for at least two new restaurants. Sites in Kenwood, Downtown and Liberty Township have all been considered. The company hopes to sign its first lease by year end.
“Cincinnati’s a very good area,” Giordano’s CEO Yorgo Koutsogiorgas told WCPO in an exclusive interview. “We would love to be there.”
David Sheehy, an Anchor Associates broker who represents Giordano’s, said the company’s first-choice site is in the northeast corridor. But he thinks Cincinnati could support more than just two locations.
“I would say at least half a dozen,” Sheehy said.
In Ohio, Giordano’s will encounter a market that already has about 3,800 pizza restaurants, 54 percent of which are independent operators will fewer than 10 locations, according to the 2015 Pizza Power Report by PMQ Pizza Magazine.
It says the nation’s 73,000 pizza restaurants generated revenue of $38.5 million in 2014, up 3 percent from the year before. A recent report by food industry consultant Technomic indicates “build-your-own” pizza chains like MOD Pizza, Pie Five and Pieology are the fastest-growing competitors nationwide.
“We’re not coming to Cincinnati to claim that we’re going to take pizza business away from anybody,” he said. “We’re going to add another option, which in my view will be a wonderful option.”