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.