CINCINNATI — Sam Dobrozsi loves making pizza. He described it as “kind of like an art.”
What You Need To Know
- Sam Dobrozsi, owner of Fireside Pizza, sees Cincinnati Pizza Week as a way to support local businesses
- From Nov. 8-14, more than 20 participating eateries will sell signature pies for $9
- Many restaurants are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic
- Dobrozsi said business is improving and hopes this week helps showcase his pizzeria to new diners
“Making pizza allows us to be creative and have fun while not taking ourselves too seriously,” he said.
That passion for pizza-making is what led him to buy Fireside Pizza. The Walnut Hills-based pizzeria is one of more than 20 restaurants across Southwest Ohio taking part in Cincinnati Pizza Week.
From Nov. 8-14, participating eateries will offer special or signature pies for $9. There are also specials on Great Lakes beer.
Many of the participating restaurants are known for their pizzas. But others are showing off pies on their menu that may not always get top billing.
Generally, the featured pies during Pizza Week are 10 inches but some go up to 12. Styles range from more traditional round pies to flatbreads. The toppings are all over the place, ranging from standard cheese and pepperoni to more exotic toppings like MacKenzie River Pizza’s Steak Chimichurri.
Sorrento’s is serving the Norwood Assembly. The hand-tossed pie comes with salami, pepperoni, roma tomato, sweet Italian sausage and diced pickle, topped with homemade oil and vinegar red sauce.
At Fireside, diners will get to try the taco pizza. It has a lime crema base, cheddar cheese, “taco” beef and tomatoes. They finish it with cilantro, crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips and their Taco Bell-inspired “Fire” sauce.
Several places offer variations for gluten allergies and most allow carry-out for the special as well. It’s likely best to head to the event website and check out the special beforehand.
“Pizza is fun and it’s not serious. So we can do goofy things and be creative and it’s okay because that’s kinda the point of pizza, at least for us,” Dobrozsi said.
Fireside opened in 2013. Dobrozsi took over as operator in 2018, and then bought the company in October 2019. That was just a few months before COVID-19 hit and the restaurant business took a major hit. Many are still struggling to recover.
Dobrozsi closed his restaurant’s dining room for 196 days during the pandemic. Going to carryout-only allowed them to stay afloat but it was difficult at times, especially with a recent supply chain issues affecting the availability and price of certain food items.
Profit margin went from positive to negative over the last year and a half, he said.
Fireside managed to keep most of its staff during those difficult months but did have to let a few people go. Some of those employees have since returned.
“That business decision should land me on the cover of Forbes; buy a restaurant a few months before a global pandemic, genius move,” Dobrozsi joked. “But we’re still here and we’re doing okay, so that’s cool.”
Organizers of Cincinnati Pizza Week said the goal of the event is to provide another reason to celebrate the local food culture while also supporting small businesses across the area. Pizza Week is one of several such food and restaurant-centric weeks throughout the year that have a similar mission. Others include Burger Week, Taco Week and Restaurant Week.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get exposed to people who might not hear about us otherwise,” Dobrozsi said.
Cincinnati Pizza Week has created a mobile app to help pizza lovers plan their week. It features a mapping tool, lists all the participating restaurants and has details about the specials being offered. Users can also check-in to earn points toward prizes and giveaways.
Diners are urged to post pictures on social media of the pies they scarf down throughout the week to show support for the businesses.
More information is available on the Cincinnati Pizza Week website.
This year’s participating restaurants: