Category Archives: restaurants

Cincinnati Chili Chains

Okay, so the main reason we went to Cincinnati was those free nights at the FMCA campground but the secondary reason was to score some authentic Cincinnati chili.

Now, I should start by saying that I have no intention of offending anyone with regard to chili. I understand that chili is often dear to many people’s hearts, and many people have a specific definition of chili. I like chili, and am all-inclusive in my affection for it. So I like chili con carne, chili with beans, chili with big cubes of steak in it, green chili, etc. I also like chili on lots of different things: chili-cheeseburgers, chili-dogs (known as Coneys in some parts of the country), chili-fries, chili-sizes, etc.

Image of Gold Star Chili's open kitchen
Gold Star Chili in Cincinnatti has an open kitchen and a counter, so you can watch what they make.
Okay, so on to the subject of Cincinnati Chili. Like all regional foods, there are many places that do this dish well in and around the city. And many people swear by their particular local place. On this food mission, Richard and I wanted to compare two chains that are local to the Cincinnati region: Gold Star Chili and Skyline Chili.

I should say that really, Richard was the only one of us able to make the comparison, since we only had the opportunity to go to one and he’d already had chili at Skyline. This left Gold Star Chili as our destination of choice. We’d read online that many people thought Gold Star to be spicier and meatier than Skyline. To some extent, Richard agrees.

I wanted to get Cincinnati chili partly as a tribute to my father. When I was younger, we went to Cincinnati to see the Reds play in the old stadium. My father was always very interested in seeing the classic old stadiums before they were replaced with new ones. We got Cincinnati chili at the ballpark, and I remembered how much we both enjoyed it.

What makes Cincinnati chili different from any other chili, you may be asking yourself? Quite a lot, actually. First off, the chili itself is meat only, and more of a sauce. It also uses cinnamon as one of the primary spices. Cincinnati chili is served (when not as a Coney) on spaghetti. Then comes the lingo: three-way, four-way, five-way. Here’s how the different “ways” you can get your chili stack up (listed from the bottom up):

  • Three-way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese (and when they say with cheese, they mean with a ton of cheese)
  • Four-way: Spaghetti, (beans), chili, (onions) and cheese (items listed in parenthesis are choices, you get one on a four-way)
  • Five-way: Spaghetti, beans, chili, onions, cheese (my personal favorite)

The verdict? I am sure that some of the old school, belly up to the counter, non-chain places are better than either of these outlets. But the chili at Gold Star was tasty and quick. They packaged the cheese and the onions separately since we got the orders to go. We could have used the drive-in, but I wanted pictures. Happy eating all around.

Myles Pizza (And a Treatise on Pizza in General)

As promised, the blog entry about Myles Pizza of Bowling Green, Ohio. But first, let me tell you a little bit of how I view pizza in general, so that you’ll better understand my review.

Margherita's pizza
Two pieces of pepperoni and one piece of (my fav) white pizza with garlic, tomatoes, spinach, and ricotta, from Margherita’s Pizza.

I subscribe to the over arching theory of pizza that people compare all pizza to the best, or most frequently eaten, pizza of their youth. For me, that was Margherita’s Pizza on Main Street in Newark, Delaware. The pizza at Margherita’s is a perfect example of thin crust, foldable, New York Style pizza (though they do have some thick crust Sicilian pizza as well). My father was a professor at the University of Delaware for 33 years. When I would go with him to the office or class, we would inevitably wind up there for lunch, and he often brought it home for dinner.

It is to this pizza that I used to compare all pizza. I was frequently disappointed by a chain pizza or when traveling. Sometimes this happened because the pizza was just plain crappy: bad sauce, tasteless cheese, soggy crust, minimal toppings, etc. But sometimes it was because the style of the pizza was just different from what I’d grown up with.

Image of California Style PIzza
An example of California Style Pizza from California Pizza Kitchen.

When I went to college in California, I was broken of this habit by simply allowing a new way to frame the concept of pizza into my mind. The pizza of my youth was the best example of thin crust, New York Style pizza (even better than I’ve had in New York recently). But there are other styles of pizza in the world, and I found great examples of those over the course of my life. So, in California, I learned to like California style pizza: strange toppings, a sweeter, soft crust, tomato-y sauce (as opposed to a sauce with a strong spice or garlicky note to it).

This new theory was tested when I moved to Chicago, and experienced Chicago Style Thin Crust pizza (different from the deep dish, sauce on top, eat with a fork and knife kind of Chicago Style pizza). This pizza has a thin, crisp crust, the cheese is usually a mixture of cheeses and placed above the toppings, and the sauce is more seasoned than either California or New York Style. It’s also often cut in squares, despite being round in shape. This produces my favorite little bites of Chicago Style Thin crust: the four little triangles on the outer edge.

Okay, that out of the way, on to Myles Pizza Pub of Bowling Green, Ohio. One more thing, though, on pizza in general: if you want to find good pizza, go to a college town. Bowling Green is home of Bowling Green State University, so of course, I expected to find good pizza there. But Myles Pizza far exceeded my expectations.

Our friend who lives in BG and was helping us with the slide and cabinet issues (See posts: The Slide, Slide 1, Lost Ramblers 3, We Have a Winner! and Another Win for the Humans) recommended that after we complete all our projects, we get this pizza as a reward. I think pizza makes a fine reward for anything, so we ordered and had it delivered to us at the Woods County Fairgrounds.

He warned us that it was “Toledo Style” pizza. Now, I’d never heard of Toledo Style pizza, so I was immediately curious. When the pizza arrived with our breadstick sampler (Garlic, Cheese Stuffed, and Pepperoni Stuff Breadsticks) I went out to pick it up and when the delivery guy handed it to me I nearly dropped it. It was so heavy!

Image of Myles Pizza Pub Pizza
Loaded pizza at Myles Pizza Pub

When we got the food inside, Richard and I were astonished. Not only was there mountains of well browned mozzarella cheese, but loads and loads of toppings. We chose pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, and onion. This is a knife and fork pizza like Chicago Style, but unlike Chicago Style Deep Dish, the cheese was on top, not sauce. Also, it wasn’t a pizza cooked in a dish. The crust was crisp and browned like a pizza cooked on the floor of a pizza oven should be. But (bonus!) there was so much cheese that some of it had oozed over the side during cooking and gotten that tasty caramelization that happens to deep-dish pizza. The sauce was spicy with loads of garlic and so good I could eat it with a spoon.

In summary, Myles Pizza Pub serves a Toledo Style pizza that is a combination of many of the great parts of Chicago Style deep dish: lots of toppings, cheese and sauce and a little caramelization on the cheese. Yet it still has some of the characteristics of a hand tossed pizza with a crisp, chewy crust with the body to stand up to all those toppings.

If you ever find yourself in Bowling Green, OH, I say go for Myles Pizza for your night out eating pleasure. It’s well worth it, especially since one slice will fill you up, giving you left overs for lunch (or breakfast) for several days. Enjoy!


Sad note, Myles pizza closed in November 2016. Their pizza will be missed!