First Bite: Yellow Brick Pizza
Certainly not me, when I first pulled up to 892 Oak St. - Yellow Brick's address - and saw a weathered old building with boarded-up second-floor windows and a sign heralding Olde Towne East Coin Laundry. Happily, that sign turned out to be merely vestigial and happier still was the jam-packed and festive scene that awaited inside.
Actually the happiness was by official decree, as it was, in fact, happy hour. In the welcoming and boutiquey-beer-centric YBP, that means from 4 until a generous 8 p.m. (Monday through Friday), 16 taps of (mostly) world-class suds are sold for half-price. No wonder I had to squeeze into a bar seat because there wasn't a table to be found.
What was to be found were vintage brick walls (painted namesake yellow in the single-oven-equipped open kitchen), a player piano, a few brew posters, photos of assorted celebrities, a handsome room-spanning "saloony" bar, plus a mix of smiling people that ran the gamut from families to couples to whooping-it-up singles.
The overall feeling was of a beloved neighborhoody haunt that'd been pleasing regulars for a long time - not a young, only month-old business, which YBP in fact is.
The reason I called YBP's pizza's the real deal is because this place honors the genuine Italian tradition of being crust-centric. You see, in Italy, a pizza is more a delicate, handmade savory pastry than a bulk-produced bready vehicle built for an onslaught of piled-on toppings.
And as YBP's friendly owner told me (and that's anonymous-eater me, not food-writer me), his dough was "highly influenced" by that of the local true Italian pizza standard-bearer Bono Pizza (Bono's Bill Yerkes even served as a sort-of mentor here).
Later on, upon noticing my getting-fidgety "is it ready yet?" expression, YBP's owner told me, with an apologetic smile, "This place isn't built for speed" - so be prepared to wait upwards of 45 minutes for a pie when this place is packed.
Will it be worth the wait? If you like a greasy and salty cheese bomb with a negligible crust, then no. If you like a more subtle pizza with a supple crust, mild char on the edge, and a delightful snap and chewiness to it, then yes.
Though there's plenty of interesting meaty and spicy varieties here, a good route to sample YBP's way with a pizza (they're $8-$9 for small and about $20 for large) is with a meatless pie.
Rhode Island Red - A stripped down 'za, it only has sauce (a bright, tangy and fruity tomato flavor), olive oil and grated parmesan. It reminded me of one of those Chef Boyardee boxes, only if designed by an actual chef.
The Big O - Gently applied sauce, cheese, a decent (if not bright and fresh-tasting) pesto, red onions, feta, diced tomato and slivers of artichoke hearts made for another winner.
Yellow Brick Pizza
892 Oak St., Olde Towne East
For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog Under the Table at ColumbusDiningGuide.com