Eccentric and inexpensive Bono Pizza is among the best in town
Are you aware that October is National Pizza Month? Do you care?
Jaded types might call such monthly designations transparent attempts to push more product - as if hamburgers (May), ice cream (July) and pizza needed extra publicity to induce American consumers.
Others might decry that such monthly designations provide writers with manufactured "timely" topics. That's my cue to ask, "Who makes your favorite pizzas in Columbus, and have you've tried Bono Pizza lately?"
From its inception in 2008 as a virtually seatless operation open after work hours in a Short North bakery through its bizarre incarnation in the rear of a convenience store, to its present location - sharing space with a bar in a Grandview Heights apartment complex - Bono Pizza has remained one of the most eccentric pizzerias to ever grace Columbus. And one of the best.
Myriad attributes distinguish Bono, but utmost is its lovely pizza crust. Baked at around 1600 degrees in a hand-built, wood-burning oven for just a couple of minutes, it resembles the crust on an authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Naples - commonly believed to be the birthplace of Italian pizza - is famous for pies showcasing thin and delicate, single-serving-sized crusts with puffy edges that are charred and crisp yet chewy. Some first-timers to classic Neapolitan pizzerias are surprised by how "soupy" the pizzas can be in the center, and how the pies are eaten with a knife and fork - I certainly was as a 12-year-old. It doesn't take long to realize that you are eating an unforgettable work of flash-baked, ephemeral art.
Finding pizza crusts so close to those of the revered Neapolitans in Bono's quirky confines is borderline revelatory.
Housed within a separate business - 14 Twenty Bar and Grille in the Heritage Apartment complex (which will happily serve you adult beverages, as Bono has no liquor license) - Bono is tiny, holding maybe 30 diners in close quarters. The seemingly inevitable decor includes decorative baking pans, red-and-white-checked tablecloths, strings of lights and knock-offs of Dali, Van Gogh and a French train station clock.
A couple salads make large and worthy $6 starters. The Spring Spinach is a busy affair, but a good one, with strawberries, toasted almond slivers, feta cheese and a bright vinaigrette. The tangy and impressive Caesar couldn't be more different - it sports a homemade vinaigrette that's pungent with garlic, anchovy, cheese and lemon.
You can engineer your own pizza with the many high-quality toppings, but Bono's 20 pre-designed pies flaunt inspired combinations. All but a few are $12.
Two pared-down beauties are only $10 - the Margherita with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil, and the Margherita's garlicky sister, The Caroline. Because the wonderful if fragile crusts aren't heavily weighted, they're stiffer in the center than others.
The Palermo is a salty and zesty crowd-pleaser with crisp pepperoni, crumbled sausage, banana peppers, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, bacon lardons and oregano-scented, homemade tomato sauce. With those toppings and that crust, it's like skillfully painting an American flag onto a vintage Ferrari.
One of my favorites is the Hulk, with a rich, garlicky and terrific homemade pesto sauce. Contributing to this hulk's "incredible" green color and flavor are toppings such as zucchini batons, olives, spinach, green peppers and an arugula salad applied after it's finished baking.
Mushroom lovers should target the excellent Funghi, which uses oregano and feta to highlight fresh fungus. But there's also the surprisingly addictive Berliner with kielbasa and sauerkraut; the sweet-and-salty Carbonara with Smithfield ham and caramelized onion; and the dark-horse "tonnoBONO" with tuna and mustard (odd, but it works).
I could go on, but it should be clear by now that fantastic little Bono makes every month a pizza month.
1412 Presidential Dr., Grandview Heights