My husband and I recently enjoyed a lunch date while sampling what many have hailed as some of the “Best Oven-Fired Pizza” in Greater Cincinnati at The Works Brick Oven Restaurant (20 Grear-Millitzer Lane, 513-697-8408), near the bike trail in downtown Loveland. Within the walls of the city’s landmark water filling station for steam trains, owners Scott and Jamie Gordon serve up homemade soup, fresh salad and unique sandwich offerings in addition to their signature brick oven pies.
At once casual, rustic and cozy, The Works is dripping with atmosphere. We slid into a booth with a kitschy hand-painted table top and were greeted promptly by our server, Tasha. She was expressive, bouncy and full of great recommendations peppered with her personal opinions.
At her suggestion, we ordered drinks along with Works Chips & Hummus ($6.99). Served chilled, the hummus was blended with roasted red pepper sauce, feta cheese and extra virgin olive oil. The dip was simple and delicious, but the thick homemade chips bordered on greasy.
As we awaited our entrées, other diners filed past us to the outdoor patio and our attention turned to the centerpiece of the room — the immense brick oven.
We watched intently as the daytime crew transformed simple dough into edible art.
My pizza, The Mediterranean ($7.99/$13.99/$17.99), arrived at the table crisp, hot and bubbly. The olive oil and garlic-sauced crust overflowed with artichokes, fresh basil, chopped tomatoes, peppers, black olives, spinach and feta cheese. Complemented by a side salad topped with grilled onions, peppers, zucchini and portabella mushrooms sautéed with oil and Italian seasonings, it was a delectable combo.
Our server presented my husband with Buffalo Bowtie ($16.99) — a full half-pound of bowtie pasta tossed liberally with homemade alfredo, hot wing sauce, chicken tenders and banana peppers. It was an interesting twist on traditional alfredo, but surely an artery-clogging portion size. Note to self: Next time take advantage of The Works’ half-size portions.
The fullness of our tummies must have been painfully obvious because Tasha’s eyebrows did a full-on jump when we agreed to try dessert. Surely she was shocked given the large quantities of food still remaining at our table.
We were disappointed by the sweets menu. With only four items listed, it fell short of expectations. Two of the choices were crust-based desserts (Creme Brulee Pizza and Cinnamon Bites), both of which sounded too heavy after such a large meal and required additional cooking time.
Lured by the thought of homemade cheesecake, my husband succumbed to a slice of Turtle ($5.99), while I played it safe with traditional Creme Brulee ($6.99).
Apologizing as she delivered the cheesecake, Tasha explained there were two slices “because they're small.” I would have preferred an apology because they were not homemade. Some redemption was received, however, because my Creme Brulee was made in-house and provided a strong finish to a good meal.
Cooking pizza evenly in a 600-degree oven without scorching it is a science. I respect The Works’ success in pulling this off. My pizza was very good, but the crust was a little thin for my preference. If you want a thicker crust, be sure to let your server know so they don’t dock your dough.
CONTACT DIANA DAY: firstname.lastname@example.org