Hate onions? Put ketchup on your ketchup? We all have unique likes and dislikes, so when you hear about a new restaurant, whether it be from a foodie or someone who lives off of toaster pastries, you don’t know if their tastes align with your own. So, instead of reading a review from one source, take it from four members of our team. Even though we are woefully underqualified to review a restaurant, at least one of us will likely share some of your distinct tastes.
For this issue, the PressureLife crew visited Il Rione in Gordon Square, where Owners Brian Moss and Brian Holleran serve up New York-style pizza out of a renovated pub space from 1917. Will their pies take the cake? We tried four different pizzas to see if Il Rione is worth your hard-earned dough.
The thought of clam pizza has always grossed me out; seeing it being made on television never seemed appetizing. Boy was I wrong, the clam pie at Il Rione is now in my top three pies in Cleveland. Out of the five suggested pies, I would normally order the diavolo with the spicy salami. It was good, but didn’t stand a chance to the clam pie. I wouldn’t plan on talking to anyone for a day or so after eating here, as the garlic game is heavy. Albeit a little pricey, it’s worth checking out. With an influx of pizza joints opening in Cleveland, Il Rione did not disappoint and stands tall with the others. Kudos to the Brian’s and their staff.
I love garlic. If you’re not a fan, you may say my obsession borders on unhealthy, but that’s false, especially since garlic can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Anyway, I say this because I love a good, stinky breath-inducing white pie, and Il Rione didn’t disappoint. However, the highlight of the dinner for me was the clam pie. It took all the things I love about the white pie—you know, garlic and mozzarella—and added these wonderful little bits of sweet and salty middleneck clams. The red sauce-based pizzas we ordered were no slouches either. While some of our party weren’t as keen that the pesto on the green pizza leaned on the vegetal side, i didn’t mind. The diavolo was No. 4 in my rankings, but still solid, although make sure you enjoy the other pizzas first so that the spiciness doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds when you dip into another slice of white.
Clams are sick. But when the clam pizza is listed as the first menu item, that must be intentional, right? It was by far my favorite out of the four pies we ordered and the pool of oil, butter, and garlic on the bottom of the pan was perfect for dipping the other pizzas. Up second for me was the green pizza. At first, I thought the pesto was overwhelming, but it definitely grew on me. It was herbaceous and fresh, but still savory thanks to the little, wonderfully overdone pepperoni cups. Next up was the diavlo. This was around the time the tables’ conversation had shifted to Mt. Rushmore, Tracy Chapman, and Alex’s childhood pet turtle, Edwina, so the distraction of capsaicin killing off my tastebuds was welcome. Last was the white pizza. It was a little too rich for me with the ricotta cheese, but still very good. Overall, I enjoyed the atmosphere, food, and the company – I will definitely return.
I may not have a waxed handlebar moustache, but I know a thing or two about classic cocktails. Apparently so does Joey Nix, the bartender on duty during our visit. I ordered a Negroni (equal parts gin, campari, and sweet vermouth) and it was perfectly diluted to show off all three components. After dinner, I had a Manhattan (rye whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth) which was also made perfectly. My only complaint was that it was automatically served over a big cube and I prefer my manhattans up. As for the pizzas, I think a lot came down to your gameplan. Being a spice fiend and poor decision maker, I went all in on the diavolo. It was probably the pie I will order when I go back next. As for the clam pie, everyone wanted to marry this pizza, but I feel like it’s more of a side piece. Have your date order it and just snag a bite. The green pizza had the best meat by far. I’m still dreaming of crisp little pepperoni cups. The pesto tasted fresh, maybe too fresh for some. Last and least was the white pizza. This would be a great way to ease in to the meal and wake up your taste buds, but intros are never anyone’s favorite song on the album. Overall, I dug the vibes, cocktails, and pies.