CINCINNATI -- Maybe it's the crispy yet chewy crust, the heady aroma of bubbling cheese or even the secret sauce, but our nation's love of pizza is deep.
What's not to like? Pizza is the ultimate all-in-one dish that's accessible, portable and fully customizable. Get the whole pie, and it becomes communal, or buy the slice and keep everything to yourself.
We asked nine local chefs where they go to get their fix -- aside from their own restaurants -- when they are craving pizza.
Stephen Williams (chef/owner of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar) and Renee Schuler (chef/owner of Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts)
Favorite place: Goodfellas Pizzeria
Favorite pizza: Any piece that has a toastier crust and “gooier” cheese (Williams); pepperoni pizza (Schuler)
Two of our chefs give their thumbs-up to pizza by the slice at Goodfellas Pizzeria in Covington. The pizzeria offers New York-style pizza that uses freshly made dough, which is hand-tossed, then baked on a stone.
Williams describes his pick as “whichever piece in the window looked like it had been left in a little bit longer and the cheese had gotten just a little bit gooier.”
While Schuler thinks it's hard to beat classic pepperoni, she said the pizzeria is always putting out interesting combinations such as Philly cheesesteak or bacon and cheddar.
"The nice thing about ordering a pepperoni slice is [Goodfellas] is a swinging spot, and the pepperoni pizza is always really fresh," she said. "They have a great back outside patio, perfect for Sunday evenings."
Goodfellas Pizzeria: 603 Main St., Covington, 859-916-5209; also at 1211 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3625. goodfellaspizzeria.com
Bhumin Desai (executive chef/general manager at Maplewood Kitchen and Bar)
Favorite place: Adriatico's
Favorite pizza: Pizza with pepperoni, jalapeños and extra cheese
Adriatico's has been serving New York-style pizza for 38 years near the University of Cincinnati. This college crowd favorite even names its extra-large pizza, which measures a whopping 18 by 24 inches, after the university mascot, the Bearcat.
Desai builds his own pizza with three ingredients: pepperoni, jalapeños and extra cheese.
There's much to love about Adriatico's, he said: "Fresh, great beer selection, perfect crust ... and cheesy as hell."
Adriatico's: 113 W. McMillan St., CUF. 513-281-4344; adriaticosuc.com
Danny Combs (chef de cuisine at Sotto)
Favorite place: Pizzeria Locale
Favorite pizza: Sausage & Broccolini Pizza
Pizzeria Locale boasts restaurant-quality pizzas at fast-food speed and price. This Chipotle-backed pizzeria shares Chipotle's philosophy of serving "food with integrity," which emphasizes sustainable, "clean" and wholesome food.
Combs is a fan of the Sausage and Broccolini pizza, which comes with mozzarella, sausage, broccolini, garlic and chili flakes.
"Pizzeria Locale features well thought-out ingredients, from freshly shaved prosciutto for the Prosciutto & Arugula pizza -- my second-favorite pick there -- to their awesome budino," he said. (Budino is a butterscotch pudding served with chocolate and caramel topping.)
Pizzeria Locale: 7800 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-745-0147; 9540 Mason Montgomery Road, 513-339-0063; pizzerialocale.com
Andrew Gomez (owner of Gomez Salsa) and Jean-Francois Flechet (owner of Taste of Belgium)
Favorite place: Dewey’s Pizza
Favorite pizza: Dr. Dre pizza (Gomez); cheese and pepperoni pizza (Flechet)
An early adopter of craft pizza and beer, Cincinnati-based Dewey’s Pizza has been “taking pizza to the next level” for 18 years.
For Gomez, there’s no beating the Dr. Dre pizza. It comes with olive oil, mozzarella cheese, green peppers, red onions, Amish chicken, bacon and jalapeños. After the bake, diced tomatoes and a drizzle of ranch top off the hand-tossed pie.
“I enjoy indulging in the Dr. Dre with a peppercorn ranch and add banana peppers. It's a great combination for my taste preferences,” Gomez said.
Self-professed "chief waffle officer" Flechet gets his pizza at his young son’s favorite place, Dewey’s. (“I don’t get to pick when we eat out,” he admitted.)
His son likes Dewey’s because “he gets to see the staff make the pizza and he’s allowed to stand on a chair watching them.” The pizza-tossing action earns Dewey’s bonus points as far as father and son are concerned.
Without fail, his son goes for the cheese and pepperoni pizza. “He’s a purist,” Flechet said.
Dewey's Pizza: Multiple locations. deweyspizza.com
Sung Jun Oh (chef/owner of Dolsot Bistro)
Favorite place: Jet's Pizza
Favorite pizza: Deep-dish "Jet 10" Pizza
Known for its signature deep-dish square pizza, Jet’s Pizza has risen to become the 12th-largest pizza chain in the nation.
“I like the buttery, crispy crust,” Oh said.
His favorite is the Jet 10, which comes with 10 toppings, including mozzarella cheese, Italian sausage and black olives.
“It has what I like,” Oh said.
Jet's Pizza: 11928 Montgomery Road, 513-774-0207; multiple other locations. jetspizza.com
David Cook (chef/owner of Daveed's Catering)
Favorite place: The Flying Pizza
Favorite pizza: Thin-crust pizza with sausage, anchovies, pepperoni and mushrooms
When Cook came from New Jersey to Ohio in 1979 and had his first pizza here, he saw people eating pizza with a fork. His first thought was, “Where am I?”
He likes Flying Pizza’s “Brooklyn-style thin crust” with sausage, anchovies, pepperoni and mushrooms.
“You fold it and eat it, and not use a fork,” he said.
The Flying Pizza: 9563 Fields Ertel Road, Loveland. 513-683-8448; theflyingpizza.com
Summer Genetti (executive pastry chef at Lola Bistro and Mabel’s BBQ)
Favorite place: Ramundo's Pizzeria
Favorite pizza: Cheese pizza
Though Genetti is presently working in Cleveland at ”Iron Chef” Michael Symon’s restaurants, her heart is firmly planted in her hometown of Cincinnati.
One of her favorite pizza spots is Ramundo’s Pizzeria. Famous for its award-winning pizza sauce, this pizza spot in Mount Lookout serves New York-style pizza by the slice.
“New York-style pizza has to be pure for me -- just cheese,” she said. “The crust is thin and chewy, perfect for the grab-and-go taco fold.”
Genetti likes the “little kick” in the sauce, and the pizzeria’s late-night hours. It's open until 4 a.m. on the weekends, which makes it convenient for restaurant workers to pop in after closing their restaurants.
Ramundo's Pizzeria: 3166 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout. 513-321-0978; ramundospizzeria.com
Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO Digital. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? Connect with her on Twitter: @Grace_Yek.