Tuesday, July 10, 2012

FUN & TASTY: Ohio Food Excursion, Pt. 1

Well, after yelling at my camera and shaking out the pics, I realized that I had a lot more reviewing of Ohio restaurants to do than I initially thought.  So, I've decided to make this a 2-parter, due to the large quantities of photos that I'd like to share.  I decided to do a "Fun & Tasty" theme for the first part, and save "Fancy & Flop" for the next one.  So today I'm going to recount my excursion by talking about some of my favorite eats from my home state.

Photo by Ernest Clark

The first place I gotta hit when I go home for the summer, is the BK Root Beer Stand in Sidney, Ohio.  It is one of the few authentic Americana drive-ins still left these days, and is strategically placed right behind the community ballfields.  I remember several trips to the "root beer doggie stand" after my dad's softball games when I was a kid.

Photo by Ernest Clark

I love BK because they make their own root beer (and it's AWESOME), they serve it in a thick glass mug, they have hot crinkle-cut fries (which go with hot dogs better than shoestring, in my opinion), and their buns are always soft.  Some people have complained that the hot dogs are too small, I for one am thankful!  I like to be able to take a bite of my food without worrying about pulling a face muscle.  Seriously, LOVE these hot dogs!  Here's some BK math for ya...

Above photos taken (and food contained therein, consumed) by Ernest Clark

The delicious looking coney dogs above, are actually known as "Spanish Dogs" and are a local favorite.  Many like to add onions to these.  BK also has amazing shredded chicken sandwiches, pork sandwiches, chips, candy, many other hot dog varieties, and more!  It is only open from March to October and is a must-stop if you happen upon Sidney, Ohio.  Personal tip:  You can get your food and root beer to-go and eat it, picnic style, right across the street inside the magnificent Tawawa Park.

The next summertime stop in Sidney, Ohio is Chilly Jilly's.  There's no real visible signage spouting it's name, but locals all know where it is (downtown) and what it's called.  It too is only open for the warmer months of the year.  The specialty here is, yup you guessed it, ice cream.  This was one of the first places that I ever worked and it was a lot of fast-paced work, but so much fun!  Like the root beer stand, Chilly Jilly's hasn't changed much over the decades, and I like that.  The summertime nostalgia is something I always look forward to.  

This is the menu board, but there are so many more items that you can order, many of which are handwritten on paper and hanging all around the pick-up window.  This place has vanilla, chocolate, and twist soft-serve ice cream, as well as hand-dipped.  They also carry all kinds of Slush Puppie flavors and double-dipped chocolate and butterscotch cones!  But my favorite thing to get at Chilly Jilly's is a Pinwheel: a healthy portion of soft-serve vanilla between two sandwich cookies dippied in chocolate on a stick.  Awesome, right?  Yeah, accept when it melts before you get to eat it :(

No biggie, pop it in the freezer for a few and try again.  Delicious!

My 3rd summer must-have in Ohio is down in Mason, near Cincinnati at Kings Island, my favorite amusement park (north of Florida).  The park is celebrating its 40th birthday this year!  Ok, so you can get LaRosa's Pizza at locations outside of the park gates too (actually all over most of southern Ohio, northern Kentucky, and even some of Indiana), but why not have your pie and ride too?  (However, this is not recommended to do at the same time).  

 Why is it so good?  I don't know!  Maybe it's because they've been using the same family recipe since 1954.  Perhaps it's because they use provolone instead of the same ol' mozzarella cheese that everyone else uses?  Maybe it's Aunt Dena's pizza sauce?  All I know, is that in all the decades I've been going to King's Island, I've never missed having a slice or two of LaRosa's Pizza, and for that I am thankful.

There are at least 3 locations in the park that serve LaRosa's (or as I have simply always called it "Kings Island Pizza").  There are these two stand-alone locations, and then one in the Festhaus in the Germantown section of the park.  Depending on which one you go to, you can get other things as well, such as cheese sticks, pasta, salads, etc.  You can order it by the slice, or a whole pizza pie.  I'm sorry to say, that when I sat down to take a shot of my glorious pizza slice, my camera crapped out on me (*sigh*).  But there are some good pics on the 365 Things To Do In Cincinnati website, if you want to have a look.

And this leads us right into the last Fun & Tasty eatery in Ohio that I'm going to cover today.  Another family pizzeria with franchised locations -- Cassano's.  With its thin parmesan-dusted crusts, sweet sauce, crisp pepperoni, fresh toppings, and layers of stringy cheese, what's not to like?

Another thing I like about this pizza is that it is cut into small squares instead of the usual wedge-shaped slices.  I like different.  There are other pizza places that do this, but not many, and fewer in Shelby County, Ohio.  This is what I grew up with, and what I still go back to, every time.

Appetizers at Cassano's include salads, pastas, and other things, but I don't even know what all else because I always get an order of these garlic rolled breadsticks with cheese, because they are soooo good!  But don't fill up on them, because there's pizza coming!

Here's a pic of the whole pie, so you can see the sweet squares of awesome!

So, that is a rundown of the Fun & Tasty places in Ohio that I like to eat at when I visit.  I recommend giving them all a try.  All photos on this blog are taken by me (you can tell by the poor quality) unless otherwise stated.  I'll be back with part 2 of my Ohio restaurant review, "Fancy & Flop" very soon. 

**I would like to say a special "Thank You" to Ernest Clark at Clark Photographic Services for his help and contribution of photos taken at the BK Root Beer Stand!

1 comment:

  1. Nice choice on LaRosa's at Kings Island. It definitely has it's popular fan base in that area.