Friday, May 16, 2008

Fun Playing With Dewey's Pizza

So - where I have been for a week? You really don't want to know; it was not fun. About an hour after I returned to the office from the lunch I'm about to show you, I tripped over a briefcase and landed full force on my already unhappy knees (I had just gone to the doctor that morning for the results of an MRI on my right knee, which needs some specialized care to fix the damage from the fall I took LAST spring). I wound up in the Emergency Room. Two days later, I became hideously sick to my stomach - a victim of a Hospital-Acquired Infection of some sort. I did not eat anything but chicken soup from Solon's The Soup Pot for several days. Their made-from-scratch soups are simply fantastic, and I urge anyone in range to try them out.

The reason I was in Cleveland Heights at all last Thursday was to fill a compounded prescription for an anti-inflammatory cream for my knee, at the Lee-Silsby Pharmacy. I dropped of the script, and walked down Lee Road. I had been looking forward to trying the pizza at Dewey's, which I have heard good things about. But any time I'd go for pizza at dinnertime in this neighborhood, I'd be at Marotta's. On the East Side of Cleveland, Marotta's pizza is the closest I can get to the pizza I love from home (ie, New York City and environs), as discussed in the linked EGullet thread.

So, I ambled down the street and got comfy at a table at Dewey's. Normally, I would eschew a chain operation like this, but I'd heard enough good things about it that I was willing to give it a try, with an open heart and empty stomach.

My conclusion: Dewey's makes a very respectable pie, but it's no Vincenza's (or Marotta's).

They also have an open kitchen, where you can see freshly made dough being tossed and topped, then cooked in a proper pizza oven without a pan.

[The oven shot did not come out - sorry]

To truly test the pizza, I ordered the largest of the three sizes, 17 inches. I ordered "half & half," which the menu says they gladly do - half plain cheese, and half meatball. The server encouraged me to make the meatball half their "Meatball" specialty pizza, with fresh basil and "fresh" mozzarella, oregano and Parmesan cheese, rather than plain cheese with meatball as a topping. I said, "sure." And enjoyed the house-made iced tea while I waited.

Half Meatball, Half Plain Cheese Pizza

Imagine my New York-Brained surprise when the pizza arrived - sliced into 12 micro slices! I asked: why? Why take a beautiful thin crusted pizza like this, and make the slices too small to fold? The answer (and I swear that this is what the manager told me; I am not making this up) - it is easier for Midwesterners to eat it this way. And I can't argue with that - I've seen people having trouble with a big gooey slice at Marotta's and Vincenza's; even my husband occasionally fumbles with his pizza when we visit NY.

I started with a slice from the meatball half of the pie.

First thing - the meatballs were in "moon" shapes instead of sliced. Still - they tasted good. The crust was thin and had a nice texture underneath. But there was a lot of sauce, and it was a bit sweet for my taste.

On to the cheesy half of the pie:

Nice and thin, and still a good crunch and mouthfeel from the crust, though the top part of the crust, around the sauce and cheese part of the pizza, was a little too puffy for my taste. Sort of reminded me of Papa John's pizza crust around that part of it.

The manager told me that they make their dough from scratch every day, but the sauce is a corporate mix. And he agreed, they make it a little sweet "because Midwesterners like it that way." He didn't explain why they use so darn much of it, especially in contrast to the modest portion of cheese. I liked the cheese side better - the "meatball specialty" side had less cheese and more sauce, and the "fresh" basil had no flavor that I could discern.

On my way out, I took a photo of a nearby table enjoying three pizza varieties; they seemed to be enjoying their lunch very much:

I can also report that the salads were huge and looked delicious. But my mission was pizza, and I could not be distracted by other menu items.

I would certainly eat Dewey's pizza in a pinch - if I was absolutely craving pizza, and I couldn't get to Marotta's (only open for dinner, no reservations taken), Vincenza's (only open for lunch M-F), Issy's, Lolita or Bar Cento (the latter two do not make NY-style pizza, but true Neapolitan pizza, which does satisfy my cravings). The people were nice, and the pizza, to my NY palate, is certainly a cut above most of the local chains and even the local independents who make pizza in "easy bake" ovens - on a conveyor belt, in a pan (there should be a law against this, unless it is Chicago Deep Dish style). I did enjoy playing with my pizza at Dewey's, and regret I didn't get to eat the leftovers, which stayed in the office fridge after I left for the Emergency Room. But that's another story for another blog.


  1. Damn, that's nice looking pizza! Presently, I am making dinner and am now totally off track because those photos have made me delirious with hunger.

  2. Oooh you've made me hungry for pizza! I like Dewey's pizza, but my husband prefers Marotta's.

  3. While the pizza at Dewey's isn't bad, the salads are really the best items on the menu. We really like the peppercorn ranch and the house salad, and it always makes sense to spend the extra $2 for a large to share. I've settled for middling pizza before just to get the salad.

    The calzones are pretty good, too, especially if you like ricotta cheese (but you can get them to hold it as well). Their sausage is also really flavorful.

    So, despite their name, the pizza is probably the least interesting thing you can order there.

  4. Deweys is good pizza but if you want old world Italian atmosphere and wine try Marottas. Stefania is beautiful and will help you choose the perfect wine for your taste and meal.