It May Say Pizza, but Check the Grinders!
When I think of Put-in-Bay, I think of beer, bands, crowds, afternoon beers, tiki bars, and did I mention beer? After a long day of enjoying the festivities at Put-in-Bay, it is nice to have a new option for those late night munchies and some tasty new items to sop up all that alcohol swirling around in your tummy. The new Put-in-Bay Pizza Company comes to the rescue like a knight in shining armor. Open until 2am on weekdays and 3am on weekends (and sometimes later), you will have no problem getting a fresh hot pie delivered to your door or hotel room.
The menu is conveniently encompassed on a single page and has been skinnied down from last year's mega-barbecue options. Who really wants pulled pork on a pizza at Put-in-Bay anyway? What remains is a great list of pre-designed pies and build-your-own options on the right side of the menu, and apps, salads, and monster grinders on the left (more on this in a moment!). Hands down, the All Meat Special Pizza ($18.50 medium, $22.95 large) is crazy good and our favorite of all the pies. You won't find little teeny weeny chopped up pieces of ham or undercooked tiny pepperonis on this pizza. No sir! It is only authentic Hormel meats on this round disc of pleasure. The ham is large cuts of actual ham. The sausage is big hunks of sausage. Pepperoni gets that lil crispy edges to it that taste oh so good. And what about the salami and meatballs? OMG! It is SOOOO good! But I digress.
The crust here has been cooked any which way during my assorted visits, from browned-to-a-crunch crisp to lighter and a little soft at the center. It is best in the middle area, with a nice crisp edge and a bit of tenderness within. But this kitchen often is operating at full speed, especially during the busy weekend post-bar hours, and the niceties of crust production tend to fall by the wayside, but not by much. The real shining lights here are the toppings, and they are mouth-watering. Many patrons swear to the excellence of Put-in-Bay Pizza Company's pizza, and I'll admit that it is darn good... definitely the best slice of pie that you are likely to find at a similar price anywhere on Put-in-Bay ($12.50 medium cheese up to $26.95 for a large "Works"). The crust that we mentioned is sturdy enough to stand up to being folded, similar to a New York slice. It is crunchy and flavorful, and the sauce is good too.
The salads come in two sizes, small and large, with your basic dressing options. The kicker here is the meats that go on the salads. Whether you opt for the Chef's Italian Salad ($7.50 small) or the Fajita Chicken Salad ($9.50 large), you get it loaded with real meat. Pepperoni and ham adorn the chef's salad and you could have that one as a meal all by itself. But it is best to share of course, and getting both a pie and a salad is a popular choice. You can even do a theme night with their Chicken Alfredo Pizza ($18.50 M, $22.95 L) and Fajita Chicken Salad. It should be noted that the fajita chicken is nicely spiced without going overboard. Charred on their flattop, it is served warm and tender.
Appetizer selections on the lefthand side of the menu offer your basic deep-fried options: fries ($4.95), mozzarella sticks ($6.95), and chicken wing dings (10, 30, or 50 piece from $8.95 up to $39.95). But there is one special item stuck in there amidst the tried-and-true classics... Mac & Cheese Wedges ($5.95). Yes, you heard it correctly. I am not on a 3-day bender making up funny-sounding foods. They really do offer up an appetizer here made up of triangular wedges of macaroni & cheese, battered and deep-fried, with a side of ranch to dip them in. The first time I tried these I thought I had found food nirvana. After a few cold beers hanging out in the sun, these Mac & Cheese Wedges go down your throat in a melty, crunchy, ooey-gooey ranch-river of love. Mac & Cheese ain't just for kids anymore!
My favorite selection here, oddly enough, is neither a pizza nor a salad nor even a cheesy wedge of goodness. Indeed, the best item here to pass my lips was one of their Italian Grinder Subs (all are $7.95). Specifically the Meatball Grinder. It's a hefty sub that is layered with an assertively spiced meatball pile layered between a delicious red sauce and mounds of cheese. There's mouth-warming red pepper involved, and what seems like the occasional twinge of garlic, and a tart-sweet marinara sauce with plenty of kick to it. Go a little outside the boundaries and ask to have some onions and green peppers on it. You won't regret that decision. When it comes slowly gliding out of the oven, the cheese has those dark bubbly spots on it and your mouth just waters the closer that grinder gets to your mouth. Other grinder options include a pizza grinder, stromboli, ham & cheese (also VERY good!), an italian, and a fajita chicken. The day we visited, they literally had grinders coming out of the oven for 30 minutes straight. Word is getting around!
There is a small but nice selection of beers to pick from at the front counter bar if you are doing a walk-up order, including microbrews and local Ohio brewers as well. If you want wine, there are drinkable, no-nonsense screwtop selections. And, of course, a full liquor selection. On the weekends, when the place fills up with all the boaters and poolgoers, it fills with a happy buzz. There is seating both at the bar, in the pool (at the pool bar), and there are regular tables and umbrella-shaded seating in a cozier but not much quieter rear section.
You can reach Put-in-Bay Pizza Company by calling 419.285.0504. You also can follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Put-in-Bay-Pizza-Company/221123181240206 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Rating: Nine out of ten stars
Favorite Item: Meatball Grinder with a Small Chef's Italian Salad
Notes: free delivery
This website is meant to showcase the Put-in-Bay, Ohio food scene. Monthly reviews of Putinbay restaurants occur during the season. When there is a festival involving food or wine in town, then that is covered as well. Put-in-Bay Bars get occasional notice for the quality of their drinks and entertainment. Each review is as unbiased as the palate of the reviewer (unless brussel sprouts are involved, that is a dealbreaker!).
The mystery reviewer is an island resident who has been boating and working on the island for over 15 years and can remember back to the days when there was a Taco Bell on the island and the downtown bars closed at 11pm. Times change, but everyone still needs to eat!