Restaurant Review: Dewey's Pizza
Perusing Dewey's Pizza's website, you can click onto a radio tower that allows you to tune into Dewey's Radio - which transmits tracks from the likes of Built to Spill and Coldplay.
Moving on to "Dewey's story," you read about a 1993 music-obsessed Denison grad who matriculated to the grunge capital of Seattle to play in bands. But, as John Lennon once observed, "Life happens while you're making other plans," and thus the alum happened to make more simpatico chums while actually making pizzas for a living.
Returning to his hometown of Cincinnati, the frustrated musician, Andrew Dewitt, had a vision of incorporating his passions "to create a cool neighborhood" pizzeria with "cool genuine people" that emphasized music. Eventually his business model (I suppose it was "cool," too) bred success and a Dewey's Pizza mini-chain.
After reading all that, I was surprised - and pleased - when I entered the newest Dewey's in Grandview and the music was barely audible (Coldplay bores me to no end).
I realized then Dewey's was no pseudo-indie-wannabe hangout, but rather a friendly and efficient family pizzeria. What's more, it so perfectly suits its comfortably middle-class Fifth Avenue neighborhood that it seems to have sprung up organically as opposed to arriving via chain mail.
Since it's currently Grandview's next big thing, Dewey's is frequently packed, but waiting customers don't seem to mind milling about the foyer finding distractions observing a busy team of pizza spinners behind a glass wall.
Otherwise, Dewey's is tastefully understated with simple brick, creamy-colored blank painting stand-ins, conspicuous duct work, and a nice bar with beers and wines clearly above and beyond the call of most pizzerias.
Following that trend were Dewey's fine salads ($5 for a big "side," $7 for a monster "regular"). A decent-enough creamy Caesar was lightly dressed and garnished with basily toast rounds, and I enjoyed the fresh crunch of the BLT-like, red oniony Peppercorn Ranch salad.
But the salty Greek (with a thick and tart roasted red pepper vinaigrette, whole roasted garlic cloves and good black olives) and the multi-textured seasonal Harvest (with toasty pumpkin seeds, chewy figs, dabs of boursin cheese, thick-cut bacon and a sweet-tart vinaigrette) were flat-out stand-out salads, especially for a pizza specialist.
As for Dewey's pizzas ($9-$20), they're handmade and feature lots of interesting meat and veggie options, but the well-oiled crust wasn't my favorite. It was on the thin side, which I like, but on some visits it was doughy and could have used more oven time, while on other visits, even when it was crisper, it was un-snappily soft.
But my subjective opinion on Dewey's crust was not a dealbreaker, because the pies were otherwise well-made, with fresh and good ingredients and a restrained hand on the cheese and toppings.
The garlicky non-red-sauced Wild Mushroom was a winner with its mighty minced mushroom mix sweetened by roasted red peppers and its capers providing a cleansing briny bite.
The Bronx Bomber had canned olives but also light, Dewey's-made thin garlic and fennel-seeded sausage discs, peppers, onions, mushrooms and mild pepperoni - a righteous combo.
The oil and garlic "sauced," veggie-heavy and goat-cheesed Billy Goat was colorful and crunchy, but even more interesting was the Green Lantern. It had Dewey's rich, thick, mildly spicy and tomato paste-y sauce layered with a potently garlicky pesto that stood up to the goat cheese and onions. A few artichoke heart slices added a background tang.
I'm not a big fan of barbecued chicken pizzas, but Dewey's was better than most, with its black beans, corn and mixed cheeses blending well with high-quality Amish chicken slices.
That clean-tasting chicken also graced the seasonal and recommended Ryan's Inferno - a buffalo-wing-sauced pie with gorgonzola and diced, crunchy raw celery placed on after baking.
I also liked Dewey's nice-priced, if soft-doughed, calzones ($8 for a huge one with three fillings) and Dewey's neighborly usage of excellent, local dessert purveyors like Bakery Gingham and the French Loaf. I guess the bottom line at Dewey's is this: If you're not a stickler for a super crispy crust, then this place could well be a must.
1327 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview