Cincinnati’s oldest standing firehouse is now managing another kind of flame: The kind that wood-fires pizza, with delicious results. The new Walnut Hills neighborhood pizza joint, Fireside Pizza, started as a food truck and opened its brick-and-mortar spot last month in the (quite literally) barely-saved-from-the-wrecking-ball building—for which our civic history–lovin’ hearts (and our taste buds) say thank you.
Pizzas come in 9- or 14-inch pies, and specialties include the Greek “Pi” (white pizza topped with kalamata olives, spinach, onion, and feta), the Redlegger (pepperoni, onion, and roasted red peppers), and a seasonal pie (try the eggplant parmesan before it’s gone; the textures and flavors were spot-on), or you can create your own. The sauce is rich and hearty without being heavy; the crust is just charred enough; the toppings are well-balanced; and the salads are big and cheap.
And don’t miss the booze. Never miss the booze. The craft beer lineup covers the spectrum from IPAs to stouts to wheats, but you can still get a $1.50 Hudy Delight if you’re looking to love local beer in the light-and-cheap way. The cocktail menu is classic and unpretentious, but still well-crafted. We were sold at the Manhattan, because, guys, Basil Hayden’s bourbon. And the bloody mary—yes, we’re excited to drink them with dinner, too—is a perfectly spicy, house-made chipotle mix with a barbecue-lime sea salt rim…garnished with a Slim Jim, Cheetos, and olives. Also well worth your sip: the beermosa, Avery White Rascal Belgian witbier topped with orange juice. (Require grapes with your dough? There’s a wine list.)
You order everything from the bar (or call ahead and carry out); they give you a record cover to ID your order; you sit where you please. En route to a table, check out the historic, hand-painted firehouse first-alarm list that’s still intact on the wall. Next to the vintage jukebox (it plays vinyl!) is a Ms. Pacman/Galaga arcade game. Word is, the owner resets the Ms. Pacman scores every Monday, sets a new high score, and if you beat it (on Monday), you get a pizza on the house. So maybe all those hours spent playing video games will finally pay off.
It’s gourmet kept intentionally low-key, with prices low enough to make it a habit. We suggest you do so.
773 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, (513) 751-3473, open daily 11 am–11 pm