A Perfect Pie

Half cheese, half garlic pizza
Half cheese, half garlic pizza
Half cheese, half garlic pizza

Update: A Perfect Pie has left the NE side of town and taken up space in the Oaks Mall. We haven’t been for pizza since (because really, the mall?!), so we can’t tell if they’ve changed much. Boo for loosing one more NE business.

The pizza snobbery in Gainesville is lovely and astounding. We have such a loyalty to our favorite places, and we actually feel proud of our pizza options.  And what makes a pizza good is totally arbitrary, unique to each individual. Yes, I’ll get into the best pizza places in town in a different post.

For the moment, let’s talk about a sketchy little option in the NE part of town.

Wait, I do get grumpy about Northeast Gainesville because it’s the older, poorer side. We have gross roads, few dining options, bad schools, and the atrocity called Wal-mart. It’s straight up working class. The people are blue collar. They’re hard working. They’re diverse. They stretch their dollars from paycheck to paycheck.  And they are largely overlooked. (Putting soap box away.)

Back to Waldo road, between Tacachale and Wal-mart, a few blocks south of UF’s Eastside Campus.  Kind of nestled among the barber shops and the bail bonds offices. And it’s sketchy as shit. No, seriously.

A Perfect Pie. When you drive in, note the cars with New York plates. The hand painted and economy printed signs. The often-renovated building painted with a solid coat of non-descript red and white. My sister and I used to call a place like this a front—a place that inexplicably exists for years, likely because it facilitates other types of business. Not that it’s true of this place. Really.

Short story, you want to try this pizza. It’s good pizza made by people that don’t just toss a pie from a freezer to an oven. My folks are from Philly and this is the kind of place we would go to on our Jersey beach trips. The menu encompasses the kind of stuff you imagine it would (wings, salads, pasta, subs, burgers, deep fried stuff). They even do big sheet pizzas for parties and groups.

The less-short story. The crust is basic. I kind of want it to be more hand tossed. But it’s thin and supports itself. The cheese is mostly real and nicely bubbly and stretchy when it’s hot. The two wins are the sauce and the balance. I’m picky about sauce, and it’s right between sweet and tangy. And balance—the right quantity of crust to sauce to cheese.

It’s big. It reheats well. It’s even good cold with coffee the next day. It’s not going to blow your flip flops off, but you’re going to have a happy belly. Plus it’s a great location on our side of town.

A Perfect Pie
1818 NE Waldo Rd.
Gainesville, FL 32609

Phone: 352-745-7898 / 352-745-7897 / 352-745-7896

www.aperfectpie.com
Jump to menu…
Email: info@aperfectpie.com

Formaggio’s Bistro & Wine Bar

Formaggio's cheese plate for two
Formaggio's cheese plate for two
Formaggio’s cheese plate for two

We were lingering after a wine tasting at Uppercrust (just yes!), and not ready to call and end to the afternoon. After a quick stop at the tabletop gaming store across the street (because we’re geeks), we went over to check out Formaggio’s on a whim. They are in Thornbrook Village directly next to Chopstix Bistro, and you get regaled with the random music on at Chopstix if you sit on the patio like we did.

Much to the staff’s credit, and maybe because we were the only ones there mid-afternoon, they helped us push three tables together and maneuver umbrellas. The patio was a bit sunny but we tend to be loud (and have interesting conversations) so outside is often best. Besides the copious amounts of sun, the music from Chopstix was weird. But it was a great day for some chilled white wine and munchie things.

Formaggio's selected itemsThe Man and I shared a salad and a cheese plate, and a bottle of Italian pinot grigio. They were kind enough to put the salad onto two smaller plates before serving. Besides some of the lettuce being significantly wilted on top, it was tasty and the right snacking size of real greens. The cheese plate for two was pretty and the strawberries were beautiful. I hugely object to orange cheese of any kind, but I suspect people expect it so they add it. (I’m sure I rant often about dumbing down food for nervous consumers who should just stick to the chain restaurants.) And of course the cheese arrived with a basket of good crackers in multiple styles, and sliced bread.

The amount of food balanced with the wine and it was a satisfying afternoon meal. Everyone else around the table seemed please with their meals and drink choices. Our friends the carnivores ordered an antipasto plate and were nomming it up happily. Probably not knock-your-socks-off amazing. Pleasantly predictable in a good way.

Part of our group had to leave but the rest of us caved and lingered over dessert. We had a piece of tiramisu which could have had more ladyfingers and less cream. And our friends shared a canolli which of course started the canolli debate because apparently there are people who don’t like the tasty dessert (what?!). So pro-tip: check out the dessert menu before you go.

Overall it was a pleasant afternoon and the service was excellent. Considering their location and expected customers, they live up to their client’s expectations. Because I’m spoiled, I expected a little more of a dangerous cheese and accouterments selection considering the price. I would totally go back and have another lazy afternoon of nibbles and wine. Maybe inside and out of the sun this time.

Formaggio’s Bistro & Wine Bar
2441 NW 43rd St Suite 12,
Gainesville Florida 32606

352-505-6202
Formaggiosbistro.com
Facebook.com/pages/Formaggios-Bistro-Wine/591997294224339

Up a River

4 Rivers Smokehouse
4 Rivers Smokehouse
4 Rivers Smokehouse

I’m not going to be grumpy about being a vegetarian dragged to a smokehouse. I knew what I was getting into, and I was going to have dinner with important friends. Not eat. So I sucked it up and met them at 4 Rivers on Archer Road.

Okay, a little grumpy. My only real option was a dinner plate meal where you choose 5 sides and a biscuit for one price. Almost all of their vegetable dishes had a meat ingredient. Usually pork. It was a stretch to find five: sweet potatoes, cole slaw, mac & cheese, baked grits, and bread pudding. Lots of starch. I splashed out and got a Cheerwine since I hadn’t ever had one before.

My grumpiness is that this place has a lot of carnivore friends super excited, and the restaurant itself is kind of elegant-country-industrial. But you walk in, grab a plastic tray (a la Taco Bell), get served your meat right on the paper liner (if that’s your thing), and your sides and drink all come in styrofoam cups except for the foil-wrapped items.

Okay… screech… Styrofoam? Yes, a huge pet peeve for all of the waste left for thousands of years. But wait. From what I hear in the industry circle is that it’s the new green Styrofoam that breaks down into powder in 2 years.

So, not as grumpy as I was initially. But seriously, for the location, price, awards, and general smoked-meat-hardons that this place boasts, it just seems so trashy to be served on disposable everything on plastic trays.

As for being a vegetarian in a strange land, I seriously hurt after this meal from all of the starch. The biscuit was dry. The sweet potato casserole was overly sweet. The cole slaw lacked seasonings but felt fresh-ish. The bread pudding was okay. I liked the mac & cheese because it felt like diner mac & cheese. And the baked grits was wrapped in foil and had a weird skin on top and a burnt layer at the bottom but tasted okay.

So basically they totally won at the thing I really hate with a lot of restaurants…they really shoot to please as many people as possible, and hold back seasoning so as not to scare anyone.

One redeeming quality was the separate dessert counter that would have been a lot of fun if I hadn’t just O.D.ed on starchy sides. I wanted some real flavor and I’m sure the sugary selections were better than the stuff in the styrofoam cups on my plastic tray.

But really, the restaurant industry is stuck with the reputation of using a super high volume of water. Yet solutions are few. Using proper dishes means washing them in a way that satisfies the health department. But using disposable serving materials means lots of trash and waste.

And jerks like me get grumpy about the cheap feeling of eating from Styrofoam and paper rather than ceramic dishes. Grump grump grump…

4 Rivers Smokehouse
3262 SW 35TH Blvd
Gainesville FL 32608

1-844-474-8377
4rsmokehouse.com

One Love Café

One Love Cafe, dinner
One Love Cafe
One Love Cafe

We decided to try One Love Café on a slightly stormy spring evening. There’s usually a group of us, which for test-driving is a bonus. It shows how staff and facility can handle a group, and we vegetarians can get the opinions of the carnivores.

Unfortunately for me, the inside space is small (it looks like a prefab industrial building was plopped down) and the large outside space had umbrellas that don’t combat spring showers particularly well. It was crowded inside and we all pushed through the counter line for our orders, and took our metal numbers outside to tables. The sprinkles turned to a not-quite-serious rain, and I was on an end so my butt and only my butt, got wet from the drips.

One Love Cafe, insideOur food arrived in shifts, which can be expected at a deli-style café where the wait staff don’t hold food so the entire table is served at once. I had to listen to The Man grouse about the sliders, and how the vegetarian versions had one fewer slider that the meat ones (the prices reflected that though), and how not all vegetarians were on a diet to lose weight.

I ordered the black bean burger, cole slaw, and mac & cheese. Plus a Swamp Head beer on tap. Around the table we had sliders, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and an assortment of drinks. And we ordered dessert afterward. The overall thoughts on the food was okay to ‘this is going to get better’. It seemed pretty spotty about some dishes being great and some being kind of boring. But ingredients were fresh and you could feel the intention was there.

The burger had flavor and was slightly messy because it was homemade instead of out of a box. The bread could have been slightly more than ‘meh’. And it would have been fun to have a more exciting sauce. The pineapple-cilantro cole slaw was a huge disappointment with almost no flavor, but it was fresh and crisp. The mac & cheese was pretty good and definitely made in house.

One Love Cafe, dinner
One Love Cafe, dinner

The staff seemed to be trying hard to keep up with the crowd, and then the rain, which flushed a lot of people into the tiny inside space. One fellow seemed to be charging around with purpose and determination (and an overly serious frown), but he was getting stuff done. And the owner herself made the trip into the rain to bring some of our food.

The venue is great with a big outdoor space that will probably be more useful for evening events or hanging out. There is a small stage and on that evening a guy was singing and playing a guitar. There is a fire pit and a variety of seating. And just beyond the cordoned off patio, there is a vast grassy area for kids and dogs (yes, dogs are welcome) to play.

I want to like One Love Café because I can see the potential here. I am rooting for them to succeed and pick up some more experience with food, expand the menu, and make the outdoor space more useful during the summer (I hear they are putting in a more permanent pavilion roof thing). The place has the feel of a well-loved business where the owners have much passion but lack some confidence or experience. There’s a lot of potential here.

So I’m going to sit back, and wait and see. I would eat there again.

They are located in the back of Magnolia Parke (don’t get me started about the extra letters on names, like shoppe). They are open for lunch on Wednesday, and lunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday, but seem like they are planning on expanding some hours/days. The menu seems to be adjusting from time to time. In fact, it’s on chalkboards inside the café, so I’m sure it’ll change a lot more.

One Love Café
4989 Northwest 40th Place
Gainesville, FL 32606

352-509-3131
OneLoveCafeinc.com
Facebook.com/onelovecafefl

Hong Kong Deli-ghtful

Hong Kong Deli, Gainesville FL

Better late than never on this one, since we’ve been fans of Hong Kong Deli for a while now. And I promise you that if you find the place, you shouldn’t get nervous. It doesn’t look like a bright and shiny chain restaurant because it isn’t. It’s an old building painted a color I like to call “My Retinas are Screaming” yellow.

Let’s be honest. Whoever you are, however much of a food snob you have pushed yourself to being, you get a craving for Chinese take-out once in a while. I grew up completely devoid of Chinese take-out and I now know what that persistent hankering was all of those years.

So why settle for –let’s be honest—shitty food? Most of the Chinese places I’ve eaten at were highly suspect when it comes to food quality and source. I always imagine stuff coming out of 50 gallon drums and giant tubs, thrown into the hot buffet trays, and left to simmer for hours in chemical-enhanced gunk. Well, yum!

Several friends had ranted (maybe a little spit flying in their excitement) about Hong Kong Deli for a while before we took the hint and tried them out. This is an odd Chinese and American couple who run the show. This is one of those places that are funky as hell, a family business, and a source of odd stories. I’m not going to lie to you.

But please overlook the cosmetic issues and focus on the food. This is definitely one of those places where you place your order and they turn around and start cutting the veggies fresh. You can’t walk in and walk out with your order. It’s going to take them 20 minutes to actually cook your real food.

We usually order some variation of a veggie and tofu stir-fry, but if they have it, always always always get the fried green beans with tofu. We haven’t explored the entire menu yet (mostly because I am a giant baby when it comes to spicy things), but overall, the food is always delish. The usual white rice, and sauce packets are included. Spring rolls, dumplings, etc. are always tasty.

Our carnivore friends swear by the duck and the pork. I have actually seen someone check themselves for drool when talking about the duck. No comment.

I cannot put enough stars next to the statement that you should try out Hong Kong Deli. It’s in a funny location, and it’s a funky building (behind the Indian store on north 13th, near Adam’s Rib). Go there. Except Tuesdays. They’re closed Tuesdays.

Hong Kong Deli & Market
1236 NW 21 Ave,
Gainesville, FL 32609
(352) 505-0454

[Girl21]

Southern Charm Kitchen

Southern Charm Kitchen

Southern Charm Kitchen

We’ve been trying to get ourselves to Southern Charm since we heard about it months ago. How could you not want to try a place opened up by the folks that gave us Reggae Shack? And if you’ve never been to Reggae Shack, you can just slap yourself in your big, pasty white face.

Southern Charm Kitchen is out on the east side, where Hawthorne Road branches off of University. This may be crossing the tracks for a lot of you, but don’t act like it’s the ghetto. Spoiler alert: it’s worth the drive across town.

We popped in a little late (let’s face it, The Man and I always run about 15 minutes behind), and our dinner pals had scored a table and ordered wine. The wine turned out to be a Cremaschi Syrah from Chile, a label I loved since a nice bottle of carménère. Tasty without being knock-out sweet. It seemed an odd combination to have very elegant wine glasses rubbing elbows with mason jars of water on our table, both alongside the Tabasco and Sriracha.

Anyhow, the building was great and the interior was clean and trendy looking, so feel free to bring your cool friends. There’s not a lot of seating and I can see it can get crowded at times. A great bonus is that it’s not wall-to-wall white people and students. Here’s the real Gainesville, folks!

Anyhow, the food… where to start. SCK doesn’t have a website yet, but they are on Facebook and in their photos are a few pics of the menu, so you can get an idea of what’s there. Since we were at dinner, we got a few nibbles and then did entrée-plus-sides. They’ve got the menu clearly marked for vegetarian and/or vegan items.

I ordered the Country Fried Seitan with mac & cheese and cornbread. The Man opted for the Country Fried Tofu with pickled greens and the sweet-n-cajun fries. Our dinner pals went all out carnivore and seemed pleased with the sea of plates and food that arrived not too long later.

Southern Charm Kitchen

The Man was taken aback by the small portion of the tofu he received, but it was eclipsed by the ginormous size of my seitan. It took effort to tackle the seitan, even with the proper flatware we were provided. It was somehow fluffier than the traditional dense seitan, but the breaded crust added a challenge (and probably prevented The Man from stealing more off my plate than he did).

My mac & cheese felt very homemade, without even the slightest glimmer of orange cheese in most restaurant versions. The corn bread sat somewhat timidly next to the huge seitan steak. It was sweet and bready, almost like cake, rather than savory and mealy like I’m used to. But it was delish with the salty mac & cheese. Even though it was clssic southern style food, it never felt greasy or heavy.

Despite the small size of The Man’s tofu, he nommed it up (possibly a little more seasoning, please?). The sweet-n-cajun fries are basically a skinnier version of the dutty fries at Reggae Shack (which are awesome, topped with a sweet/spicy/salty sprinkle). And best for last, I am not normally crazy for greens, but these were fantastic. I did barter off some of my seitan for his greens, and then stole more off his plate while he was busy talking.

There’s all kinds of other things on the menu we want to try, so we’re definitely going back. The two servers we had were super nice and helpful. And on the way out, I drooled over the cake on display even though I was hugely full.

Even if it wasn’t delicious, I would still urge you to head out east and support local business. Skip the Archer Rd / Newberry Rd clusterfuck of chain restaurants. Push past the Main St boundary and try out something new on the other side of Gainesville. I get the feeling that Southern Charm hasn’t quite nailed down their menu (that’s not a bad thing), but they do have a strong sense of their food culture and the story they want to tell you with it.

After it was all said and done, and the wine was emptied, we paid less than $35, and our dinner pals paid about the same. Vegetarian note: they clearly state that all of their vegetarian food is cooked and served on designated dishes, so there’s no cross-over issues. (Considering the amount of ‘other’ material allowed on most processed food, I’m not sure that’s a comfort. And by ‘other’, I mean bugs, rodents, hair, dirt, and other traditionally non-food materials. But that’s another tangent.)

So, seriously, go there. Eat. I’m not kidding. You might actually enjoy yourself.

Buy local, spend local, support local. It’s your community. And your community is delicious!

Southern Charm Kitchen
1714 SE Hawthorne Rd
Gainesville, FL 32641
352.505.5553

On Facebook

Open:
Tues-Sat | 11:00AM-10:00PM

[Girl21]

Ummmm…. Yume Ume?

Yume Ume Review

[Edit: Yume Ume has been closed for a while and there doesn’t seem to be any news on opening again. Boo!]

Since The Man and I have been together, he’s been trying to get me to Rolls ‘n Bowls, but alas, they closed before that could happen. Frankly, they were too close to Falafel King, and I love me some Falafel King. So when friends posted online that Rolls ‘n Bowls was closed, I got a bit of guilt from The Man for always voting for FK over R’nB.

We’d been hearing the rumblings about the place that took the Rolls ‘n Bowls spot and kismet (also known as we were both recovering from the flu and didn’t want to cook) brought us to try take-out from Yume Ume. Totally. Worth. It.

So hands-down most fun was the wanton nori chips, which reminded me of the Dutty Fries at Reggae Shack because of the sweet / salty / spicy seasoning on them. Plus these have little threads of nori (yes, seaweed) for extra texture.

Yume Ume, Steamed BunsThe miso soup was acceptable, with wakame, mushrooms, and tofu. And the edamame was tasty but expected. He got a side of the ume guac to test drive it and loved it. (I’m not a fan of guac. Don’t ask.)

As for the main attraction, we had steamed buns with crispy tofu, red miso glaze, and savoy cabbage slaw. We also had the baked buns with pretty much the same innards but with garlic-tofu mayo instead of red miso glaze.

It wasn’t so much food that we achieved a full food coma, but it was enough that we definitely extended our lazy stay on the couch. And all of that for around $28.

From what we gather, this place was opened by the folks at Dragonfly Sushi & Sake, and it looks like they’re set to launch this as a franchise (mostly because there’s a big button for ‘Franchise’ on their website. Fortunately, despite the drive to pop out a bunch more of these, their efforts to locally and ethically source their ingredients set a good mood for the food.

The general idea is to work down the simple menu and pick what you want and how you want I, with the extra things to make a happy mouth. Their menu is actually marked for the items that are NOT gluten free. The steamed buns are those fun flat breads like small, bloated tortillas. The baked rolls have a nice crust that contrasts with the slightly squishy tofu.

Besides all of that, I want to revisit the wanton nori chips because I can eat the hell out of these, despite how terrible they likely are for my body. I mean, seriously, it’s just wanton wrappers, deep fried and doused in salt, sugar, and spice. Oh, and a festive confetti of sea weed. It jumps the food-theme tracks, but next time, I will eat a whole bag of these with crumbled gorgonzola.

2 X Steamed Buns
2 X Baked Buns
2 X Miso Soup
2 X Wanton Nori Chips
1 X Edamame
Bonus extras
Total: about $28

Yume Ume
3117 SW 34th St
Gainesville, FL 32608
352.271.1011
YumeUme.com

[Girl21]

Loosey’s: Not Just Good Beer

I’m not going to lie to you. The Man and I practically live at Loosey’s the random chances we get time to go downtown for a drink. So it’s kind of hard to write up the food. (And I hope the kitchen guys will NOT “alter” our food at all the next time we go there to eat if they don’t like what I’m saying here.)

For a long while there wasn’t much for us veggies to eat because Loosey’s was focusing on their American craft beer lineup. That’s entirely forgivable because they have a great selection. But recently the good folks who put up with us vegetarians decided to upgrade the menu and graced The Man and I with a few interesting options. They refrain from calling themselves a gastropub (too trendy), but do serve elevated pub food for a real foodie to enjoy.

First of all, this girl couldn’t have been happier to see the Veggie Egg Rolls back on the menu. In the far distant past, they were on the menu and then cruelly taken away. And now back. The crunchy, crispy rolls are served with teriyaki sauce and Loosey’s ass kickin’ sauce (which brings tears to this wimpy girl’s eyes). As you can tell from the above picture, my priority was reuniting my face with these rolls rather taking a picture for you, dear readers.

The Man has been talking about trying the BBQ Tofu Sandwich since he laid eyes on the new menu. I am not kidding. So he barely hesitated when I suggested forgoing The Top and heading to Loosey’s for an early dinner. I think he was salivating by the time we walked in the door. But he generally gets excited when we enter the presence of so much good beer.

Not many people know what to do with tofu, so offering it on the same menu with a burger is rare. The tofu sandwich is grilled and served with mustard and vinegar BBQ sauce, a Carolina style of sauce that came from Germans that settled the midlands areas. It’s topped with citrus ginger slaw that adds crunch to the tofu and soft bread, so you get this mouth full of textures.

The picture you see here was the only one without hands in it because everyone pounced on the truffle fries, a simple and tasty upgrade. (REAL French fries from actual potatoes! And then you get truffle oil, parmesan, and parsley on them… my gahd!) The only think I would do to improve this sandwich is a marinade on the tofu, because let’s face it, tofu has almost zero flavor of its own.

Our non-veggie friends got burgers and were so happy, they were doing the happy belly dance in their seats. Loosey’s is kind of known for their burgers these days. So feel free to drag your carnivore friends to eat here. For the veggie people like us, there’s the egg rolls, a pasta dish, several salads, chips & salsa, onion rings, and a big plate of the cheesy truffle fries. The Man is a pescetarian and has a few more seafood options to go with.

Of course you can see the whole menu is intended to be enjoyed with a beer or three. It’s not the frozen and flat usual pub food, so be prepared for actual flavors. I know, right? But really, beer is good with this stuff, so when you’re done ordering, ask the bartender what would go best with your meal. These folks know beer like you know your pillow. Intimately and passionately.

Our dinner:
Veggie Egg Rolls – $6.50
BBQ Tofu Sandwich – $7.50
+truffle fries upgrade – $1.50
Victory Summer Love Ale
Sasion du Buff 2012

Loosey’s
120 SW 1st Avenue
Gainesville, Fl 32601
352.672.6465

Looseys.com
Menu
On Facebook

[Girl21]

P.S. I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve sat on the patio and heard someone say ‘Market Street Pub’ as they walked by. MSP was an icon for the Downtown area, but it closed. Loosey’s took over the spot and completely cleaned it up. Like refinishing the bar, taking the sticky whatever layer off the floor, and removing the lingering odor of vomit. They redid the tap lines, brought in a happy selection of American craft beers, and offer live music and regular events at night. So… old Market Street Pub is gone. Shiny happy new Loosey’s is here. And bring your dog. The dog-friendly patio is just something you can expect from people who named their bar after their dog 🙂

Lenny’s NY Pizza Co., Ormond Beach

Lennys NY Pizza Co, Ormond Beach

Thank you, Urbanspoon.

We were road-tripping it down around Daytona Beach a few weeks ago. As we’re coming into civilization out of the swamps into the strip malls, a desperate hunger popped out of nowhere. My job as navigator means I have to magically find the best place to eat (with vegetarian options) within a short distance from wherever we happen to be. So I start flipping through my phone for my Urbanspoon app, while The Man kindly tells some of the snowbirds and early spring-breakers what he thinks of their ability to maneuver their vehicles on a roadway.

The Ormond Beach/Daytona area is packed with tourists and college youths, and local restaurants can get away with murder when it comes to what passes for food. But The Man wanted food. Possibly pizza. Okay, definitely pizza. So… Okay Urbanspoon, nothing? Another mile up the beach and resetting the location offered Lenny’s NY Pizza. Yeah, because people are always honest about their “New York Style Pizza”.

But it got a rating in the mid-90%, and it was not far away. So out of desperation we stopped to give it a whirl. Reluctantly. It was in a strip of store fronts like all of the others that face the condos on the beach. To look at, it was nothing special. But we stood there to look at the menu for a minute. The staff were yelling at each other. And the customers. Pizza ovens were slamming open and closed. It smelled amazing.

We ordered a few slices of cheese pizza, and soda, and took a table at the window to wait. There was one guy who seemed to be running the place. Probably the infamous Lenny. It became obvious quickly that this place was for locals, and Lenny kept them coming back.

“Only one stromboli today?” he nagged one customer. “You always get two. One for dinner. You want two!” The regular nodded agreement finally and waited for his two strombolis.

Lenny craned over the counter at a group laughing on the side. A woman was trying to lift a huge sandwich with cheese falling off the side. “You can fit that in your mouth. It’s not too big,” he laughed, stopping just short of suggesting she had oral skills. She blushed and tried to open her jaw like a boa constrictor swallowing a small boar.

Our pizza came up, still sizzling from the oven. Each slice the size of a legal pad of paper. Exactly right. Thin crust that actually was hand tossed. Cheese that acted and tasted like actual cheese. Sauce could have been a bit zippier but was great anyway. Real pizza. Oh. My. Crap. It was good!

We left with a cannoli in a to-go box because we obviously were working up an appetite from sitting in the car. Lenny’s would be added to our list of places to come back to next time we were down this way. (Vittoria’s pastry shop and Anna’s Trattoria in Daytona are worth the drive on their own, and this is right up the shore.) It reminded me of Lisa Pizza in the mall back in the ‘90s. I had my learner’s permit and had to drive my sister and her friends to the mall for hours. I would get pizza and hide up in the balcony area, reading a book and avoiding the kids throwing cheese. Okay, that makes me feel old now.

Lenny’s NY Pizza Co.
1456 Ocean Shore Blvd
Ormond Beach, FL 32176
(386) 441-8811
www.ormondpizza.com

[Girl21]

Gainesville House of Beer

Gainesville House of Beer Front

You’ll have to excuse us for not leaping with excitement when Gainesville House of Beer opened its doors. It is so close to Stubbies & Steins that any superbly drunk but dedicated beer lover could stumble from Stubbies to GHOB and find it on the first try. That, and it is one in a chain of several. A chain?

But we are ever ready to do our duty to you, our readers, and the beer culture of Gainesville. So after dining at Las Margaritas with friends the other night, we buttoned our lips at the suggestion of heading downtown for a drink at House of Beer. Yes, we would go and see what it was like. We actually enjoyed these friends’ company and could suck it up and try out the new place without acting like pouting children. I said it often while heading across town. Open mind. Open mind. Open mind.

Gainesville House of Beer is on the corner of University and SW 1st, where the burger place was (Jeff’s Deli was there for a while among other things). Down the block is Stubbies, then Sweet Mel’s (and Naughty Mel’s, whatever that mess is). In fact, within easy sober walking distance, there are a significant number of popular drinking establishments like The Top, The Bull, Tall Paul’s, Loosey’s, Palomino, Mainstreet Billiard, Durty Nellie’s, Piano Bar, :08, The Atlantic, University Club, and Stubbies (yes, I mention it again only because it’s a few doors away). Hell, you could even go to The Venue and get a beer if you don’t mind metal detectors at the door. So why would you open a beer place in that exact spot?

Don’t get me wrong. They have 40 taps, plus a decent assortment of miscellaneous bottled beer. The bartender knew his way around the beer, and was more than happy to pour samples and suggest options. The only excuse is that these guys are from the Dunedin/Palm Harbor area. They don’t know the area very well. Gainesville’s House of Beer is the third in the chain, and I can honestly say third time is not the charm because there is no charm in this location.

It’s a storefront box with awkward pillars and an uncomfortable little patio area for smokers. The long bar down the back of the room guards the expansive row of taps. The industrial flooring is as exciting as the Sam’s Club “Pub Style” collection of tables and stools. And the pressed tin beer advertisements seem like they were hung up quickly to cover the walls because the TVs were delivered a few weeks late.

The most annoying thing about the night can’t be directly pointed at GHOB. At least I am hoping it was some overly-excited patron that stuffed the jukebox and treated us to a long series of bad ‘80s music. No, I agree there is good ‘80s music. But this was the stuff that you find only in the bottom of the box of Salvation Army’s Vat O’ Dusty Cassettes. As in, why would you offer this on your juke box unless you hated your staff and patrons?

This will be the end of my rant about the lack of personality of the establishment. If I wanted to go to this kind of bar, I would visit one of those gargantuan outlet centers in Georgia and find where all of the soul-drained employees went during their lunch breaks to top off their buzz. But I like my bars to have a little personality. I spend a good deal of time there after all. And the downtown is rampant with interesting places to park your arse and waste a few hours with friends.

On the plus side, GHOB does have a good selection on tap. This is not an argument. They have Victory, Bell’s, Southern Tier, Chimay, Boddington’s, Swamp Head, Rogue, Shipyard, Abita, Red Brick, Cigar City, Woodchuck, Sam Adams, Left Hand, Sweetwater, Dogfish Head, Ace, and more. And they even have fancy glasses to serve the different types of beer (and cider) in.

They do have big name beer like Bud Light, Miller Light, PBR, and Corona, so if you have those friends that can’t tolerate their beer with flavor, you’re free to bring them with you if you like. And GHOB has wine, cider, and lambics for those that are less than excited about beer. You can download the PDF of their bottle and wine selection if you like (you should know by now how much I hate this lazy way of displaying a menu online, so their terrible website was another nail in the coffin).

If you’re waiting to get into Stubbies, you could have a beer at GHOB and watch TV while someone holds your place in line. We went on a Friday night and it wasn’t busy at all. The girl on the door was writing a paper for school and watching the crowd across the street at The Bank or whatever it’s called this week.

House of Beer wasn’t bad. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just not a place we wanted to spend a lot of time. We all had a drink and tried to settle before giving up and continuing on to another drinking establishment. It might someday develop character. We might even go back. Maybe.

Gainesville House of Beer
19 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601

352-376-1100

www.gainesvillehob.com

Open:
Monday-Friday 2PM-2AM
Saturday & Sunday 12PM-2AM

[Girl21]

Gainesville House of Beer, CC Puppy's Breath Porter