Friday, June 12, 2009

guest post: josh riffs on larosa's

by means of introduction: i've pseudo-known josh for a long time. we go way back. back to grade school, in fact, like most westsiders. there exists a video starring us and other similarly rhythm-impaired pre-adolescents rapping about cincinnati; fortunately it is locked inside the bicentennial time capsule. needless to say, i have to stay on his good side in case a copy resurfaces, so i invited him to blog on one of our favorite topics - larosa's. his thoughts follow.

There’s a stereotype of Cincinnatians in general (and westsiders in particular) that we are born here, raised here, get married here and die here. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m one of those stereotypical Cincinnatians. I grew up in Bridgetown on the west side and now I live in Delhi. For a brief time during college (at UC), I worked at my dream job in Houston. But, I decided I didn’t like it there, came back and changed my major. Soon after, I remember seeing a LaRosa’s billboard on I-74 declaring, “It’s good here.” And that’s how I felt. I liked the people here, the values, and the local food.

We used to pick up Skyline for dinner after every vacation. My grandma used to live across from the original LaRosa’s on Boudinot. We’d go over there many Sundays to visit and she’d take us across the street to the Pizzeria or if we were lucky, maybe to the Wine Cellar! I loved it. The pizza was always hot and delicious; with the sauce has that distinctive sweet taste you can only get there. I spent many a late night at that same Boudinot LaRosa’s after football games or a movie.

But lately, LaRosa’s has just not been very good. There was a recent post on Slice. The author, Daniel Zemans (who is from Chicago), had some very disparaging things to say about LaRosa’s. At first, I was a little offended. Who was this guy to be knocking our city’s pizza?! Then, I realized that for the most part I had to agree with him. It’s just not very good anymore.

It’s really hard to put a finger on what changed. For the past several years, whenever I’ve had LaRosa’s, it seems that if I’m LUCKY, the food is “just ok.” But, mostly it’s just not tasty. Everything seems mass-produced. The pizza just seems to sit like a brick in your stomach. Half the time, the cheese has slid off the pizza or the crust isn’t quite cooked all the way. With all the nostalgia and loyalty I had, it’s hard to admit that it’s just not good anymore. AND, the price has gone up significantly. They haven’t really introduced many new items, and when they have, they’ve mostly been mediocre at best (Montgomery Inn pizza? Little It’ly pizza?).

I dunno…maybe it’s me. My kids still seem to like it. But, to me, when the quality goes up and the price goes down, I’m going to head somewhere else for my pizza fix. For us, lately that’s been Trotta’s or Noce’s. And, that’s hard to stomach (pun intended) for a born and bred westsider like myself.


Julie said...

That LaRosa's post really brought out some thoughtful posts here in town, didn't it?

I mentioned this in my post-- I eat LaRosa's as a comfort food, not because it's good. I just haven't figured out if my tastes has changed, making it not as good as I remembered it, or if it's actually changed-- for the worse.

JKNEPFLE said...

Thanks for letting me guest post!

I'm pretty sure that your Cincinnati rap is safe with's kinda like mutually assured destruction. :) (Tho, I do think I have it somewhere...)

Keith said...

The last straw for me was the pizza I ordered during the daytime on Christmas Eve. It was supposed to have several toppings and extra cheese. It had so little in the way of any toppings that there were areas where the crust was simply bare. And it cost slightly more than the same size pie from someplace like NYPD.

WestEnder said...

I went to the Norwood LaRosa's a while back for lunch and ordered spag & meatballs. It came with ONE PUNY MEATBALL.

Bad food is one thing, this was practically a personal insult.

LaRosa's, get your act together.

The Running Buckeye said...

Everything seems mass-produced.


CincyNative said...

LaRosa's has gone downhill over the years, especially since most are franchised...most Cincinnatians don't know this. There was a day and time when I would never have hesitated to have called LaRosa's my absolute favorite pizza in the world. But as they kept getting my pizza order wrong and kept sending out raw pizza and being very skimpy on the toppings...well, I did what any good, dyed-in-the-wool Cincinnatian would do: I complained. Heavens, don't complain!! Whatever you do!! They put me on MODERATED status, meaning that when I call in, I have to wait for a supervisor to take my order...and add to that, I can't place an order online anymore. All because I complained. Their explanation was that they just want to make sure my order is taken correctly...! Really! I would have thought that there would be little room for error in extracting an order placed online, in black and white, in front of you! Sorry, Buddy...your pizza was once awesome and worth every your pizza is barely adequate and your people act like they don't care....I sent customer service an email telling them that I resent being moderated because I wanted pizza that was cooked or that I wanted what it was I ordered and paid for...and that I would in future place my orders with Donato's if this is how LaRosa's treats their customers...and got NO REPLY. It's a shame.

k said...

oh, larosa's. what have you become?

so disappointing.

Dick Bronson said...

Your taste may have gotten better. Perhaps between many of those frightening outsiders coming to town and your ventures outside the 275 loop, you've come to discover that pizza does not have to be so crappy.

Having said that, LaRosa's has also gotten worse. I did not think this possible, as the crust, sauce, and toppings were already quite dreadful.

Danno said...

You know. As a life long conflicted Cincinnatian, Mom and her family from the west-side, Dad and family from the east-side, two things I could rely on ... Skyline and LaRosa's. Sadly, just like Domino's has admitted. The product is lacking. Buddy's idea was great in the 50's, but time's they have a changed. With soooo many other option's to choose from, the sentimentalism, for me, is over for this venerable icon.

The need a top to bottom review of their ingredients and can start with that frozen cardboard thing that call a crust.