If you search for the term “food crawl” on the internet you won’t find too much information. However, on the Food Network, Cooking Channel and in many culinary magazines you hear and read about it quite frequently.
I would define a food crawl as follows: where one goes on a culinary tour to different restaurants to sample food. For example, you can do one in search of the best restaurant, or specific food such as coffee crawl, or taco crawl. There is also a progressive food crawl where you might have drinks and appetizers at one restaurant, dinner at another, then dessert and coffee at different location. Living in NYC, food crawls are a part of daily life. Any big city will afford you this opportunity. My husband and I were doing food crawls since we met without even knowing it – we’re such trend setters! More often than not, we had dinner one place and dessert at another. Recently we were in NYC and while waiting to be seated at Lombardi’s Pizza (just had to get in another pizza plug!), my husband showed up with a tray of Melissa’s Cupcakes for us to nosh on while we waited 45 minutes for our table! After dinner, we went to Rice to Riches for rice pudding for dessert. That was a food crawl too.
When my husband and I first met, I remember one time we decided to walk to dinner from his apartment on West 53rd and 8th down to the East Village (around 10th street) where we would end up at a place called PizzaPizza. It was about an hour walk to get there. We were starving so we decided to stop in at Luigi’s Pizza across the street and share a slice before we headed downtown – just the fuel we needed! On our way, we passed so many pizza places it seemed there was one on at least every other block! Somewhere along the way we stopped in at one of the Ray’s* Pizza places just for fun. We each took a bite but didn’t really like it. It was very cheese heavy so we tossed it and kept walking. Then we came across Lazarra’s Pizza on 38th street By the time we got to PizzaPizza, we were very happy to sit down, and very ready to order a pizza! In the end, Luigi’s was the best of the night and we had invented the food crawl!
So why am I telling you all of this? Saturday my family did a local pizza crawl in honor of National Pizza Week and so that I could share it with you. We chose 3 places that are in the top 25 here in Columbus. It was my son’s last day of winter break so we chose pizza places near the bus station that would get him back to college. Ironically, they are in the top 4 of that list! First stop, Harvest Pizzeria in German Village. We have been there before and absolutely love their pizza. We thought just like with Luigi’s we should start out with something tried and true – just in case! We ordered two pies – one with mushrooms and the other vegetable. The pizzas are baked in a wood burning oven and the crust was light and delicious with just the right chew and char on the crust. It’s not NY pizza, but that’s more than okay, it doesn’t have to be. It’s unique and stands on its own. I always get the almond pesto on the side, just to drizzle on top – so good, I started making it at home! We’re Harvest Pizza lovers in my house as you can tell!
Harvest Pizzeria in German Village
An hour later we headed over to Yellow Brick Pizza in Old Town East. We have heard so much about it, we wanted to give it a try. We ordered a regular cheese pie so that toppings didn’t get in the way of taste. This was my husband’s favorite place of the day. It was a good solid pie. The pizza had a nice crispy crust, just the right amount of cheese, and a great tasting sauce. What more can you ask for? Tater tots apparently because they’re on the menu with a variety of toppings! Of course we got those too! They were good, probably better with toppings and a drink but we were there for the pizza.
Yellow Brick Pizza in Olde Town East
Last but not least was Bono Pizza. Bono Pizza was my white whale (you know as in Moby Dick – the one that got away)! About 6 years ago we passed a small little place in the Short North that had a sign in the window – Bono Pizza to go. They were closed but I wrote down their number so I could get their hours and pick up a pie to try another time. I went there again a couple months later and the sign on the window said sorry, ovens are out. 3rd time will be a charm – right? A few weeks later I went back and they were closed; they had moved to a new location. I forgot about them for a while, then one day I was driving my son to baseball and saw a sign for Bono Pizza. I quickly pulled into the parking lot. They were located in a convenience store and had pies to go after 5pm. We missed them again!
Bono Pizza in Grandview
This past summer, while in the area, I saw a sign that said we’ve moved. For some reason I felt compelled to follow the signs to their new location – I didn’t want pizza but wasn’t giving up. I found them located in an apartment complex and yes they were closed for lunch but now I knew where they were. It’s an odd location, very small, and less than fancy but there’s something warm about the place. Saturday, I finally caught the white whale! We dropped Jarred off at the bus, did a few errands and headed over for dinner (of course I called them on the way to make sure they were open!). I couldn’t believe after 6 years we finally did it. Was it worth it? Read on to find out!
The restaurant is located in an apartment complex which is a little unusual but seems to work. One thing we loved was the red and white checkered tablecloths. It reminded us of NYC pizza places. We ordered three 10 inch pies and loved the Margherita pizza with extra garlic they call The Caroline. It really was delicious. The dough was crisp and tender and had a nice wood charred flavor, add in the fresh mozzarella – it was a winner! As for the other two, we just ordered the wrong pies. So we are going to judge solely based on the Margherita pie which was amazing.
End of day results… You can see why all three are among the top 25 best pies in Columbus. All different, all very good in their own right. Ethan and I selected Harvest Pizza as our favorite. My husband’s favorite was Yellow Brick Pizza. Bono was a top contender but I think at a disadvantage, it was the last pie of the day, we were a little full, and I guess after 6 years, my expectations were just too high. Jarred’s favorite was Zen Cha Tea (no pizza), but that’s another story! All in all it was a really fun day. I finally caught the white whale, we had some great food, and so many laughs along the way and I would go back to any of them in a heartbeat! Can’t wait until next year’s National Pizza Week! I have so much more to share, more recipes, more stories, I may not be able to wait! In the meantime, check out the places I’ve mentioned plus these I have been to (also in the top 25) … Mikey’s Late Night Slice, Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, and Borgata Pizza Cafe. Only 19 more to try!
*There are dozens of pizza places with the name Ray in it all claiming to be the first and one and only original. There are often debates as to whether they are related in some way. Off the top of my head, there is Ray Bari, Original Ray’s, Famous Original Ray’s, Ray’s, I think there is even a World Famous Ray’s Pizza. Check out this blog to find out more about Ray’s pizza and for a funny clip on Seinfeld about Ray’s thepizzasnob.net/2012/07/08/a-slice-of-new-york-city-the-real-rays-pizza-5/