With so many pizza restaurants located around Ohio State’s campus, it’s hard to distinguish one place from the next. Pizza Cucinova, located at 1187 Olentangy River Road, is a new restaurant that isn’t your typical pizza joint.
When I walked into the simply decorated, yet modern, eatery, chefs and team members warmly welcomed me.
A giant sign caught my eye explaining the basic format and style of the restaurant.
Tony Seta, a chef who helped create menus for Bonefish Grill and Carrabba’s, developed the Pizza Cucinova menu.
You can choose a specialty pizza from the pre-made menu, or build your own. For healthier eaters, you can create a custom salad or choose one from the five menu options.
As I started the journey to the ultimate custom pizza, a personal portion of dough was stretched and prepared right in front of me. The dough is then floured with Caputo flour, an ultra-fine and no-sugar-added flour from Italy.
The pizza dough then moves down the line to the sauce station. There are three different sauce selections: a white, cheese-based sauce, a red, tomato-based sauce and a green, pesto sauce.
After the sauce, customers can choose from a wide-variety of toppings. The many toppings are grouped into three categories: cheese, meat and seafood, and vegetables.
Cheese options range from the most basic mozzarella cheese to the more eclectic tastes of feta or goat cheese.
Pizza Cucinova features more than just your traditional pepperoni topping when it comes to meat. They also have sausage, meatballs, chicken, ham, bacon, prosciutto, a thinly sliced ham and soppressata, a type of dry salami. For the seafood lovers, shrimp, anchovies and clams are available.
Now my favorite part: the veggies. Brightly colored and cut fresh daily, Pizza Cucinova offers more than a dozen different types of vegetables, from mushrooms and onions to red potatoes and jalapeños.
Although it was a tough decision, I decided to go with the Margherita pizza, made with tomato sauce, mozzarella, romano and basil, to which I added mushrooms. As I watched it get placed in the wood-fire oven, I couldn’t wait to see if my high expectations would be met.
I sat down and my pizza was brought to me within the next seven minutes. The cheese was melted to the perfect temperature, and the crust was just the right shade of brown.
As I took my first bite, I was definitely satisfied. However, I wished there was more regular, shredded mozzarella cheese, instead of the larger chunks of fresh mozzarella. The tomato sauce was very fresh, and I enjoyed the light and airy taste of the crust.
Because the restaurant only serves personal 12-inch pizzas, and not individual slices, I did find myself pretty full after only eating half of the pizza. It would have been nice to be able to just order a slice or two.
If one saves room for dessert, their house-made cheesecake is a must-try for only $4 per slice, definitely worth the extra calories.
I sat down with the general manager, Jamie Warden, and asked him what makes Pizza Cucinova different from other pizza restaurants.
“We’re a family-friendly place for anyone who likes pizza. We like to call ourselves the Chipotle of pizza,” Warden said.
Typically, each personal pizza costs between $7 and $11. All additional toppings are $1 each, unless already included on one of the specialty pizzas. Salads range from $5 to $8.
Pizza Cucinova offers fresh brewed iced tea, sodas, coffee and eight draft beers, as well as five wines on tap.
Pizza Cucinova is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.