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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nky's Best: Pizza Pecking Order - Ft. Thomas Pizza & Tavern

Hopefully by now, you've done your homework and googled Mel Brooks' quote on bad pizza, or lack thereof. Someone please just post it in the comments so I don't have to keep answering emails asking what I'm talking about.

The FTM crew just got back from our first crusade to search out Northern Kentucky's best pizza and I gotta say, I'm pizza wasted. Not chocolate wasted. Pizza wasted. I ate too much and I already know early into this quest, my challenge it going to try to be to write my thoughts before my fingers get too greasy and all I want to do is go home and take a nap.

Darrin, Ben and I (along with the ruminations of our better halves and others that decide to join us) will independently rank on a 1-10 scale four main categories at each establishment. Overall Pizza Taste. Atmosphere. Extras. Service.

A couple of ground rules:
#1- We'll generally order two pies. A pepperoni pizza will be the staple. Everyone does a pepperoni and this way the restaurant won't be able to mask the true essence of their pizza.

#2 - We'll usually leave the second pizza up to the restaurant. No one knows their pizza better, so we'll basically ask the server to "give us your best shot."

#3 - We'll try our best to keep our thoughts to ourselves during the challenge, then we'll average each category to come up with a master score. Sound good? Ready? Break!

Fort Thomas Pizza & Tavern

Overall Pizza Taste: 5 (One large 12" Pepperoni, One large 12" California Ranch Chicken Pizza, Pretzel with cheese appetizer)

The California Ranch Chicken Pizza (henceforth referred to as CRCP) was the table's favorite. When we were signing for our bill, I looked down and there was the lone piece of CRCP, with about 5-6 pieces of pepperoni. It was a mixture of pizza sauce, ranch, onions, generous shards of chicken breast and mozzarella.

The score probably would have been a higher had we only had the CRCP. The pepperoni was, for a lack of a better term: a lot. A lot of cheese, a lot of sauce, a lot of pepperoni. I picked it up and it was pretty heavy, which could be a good or a bad thing. In this case, I don't think it was inspiring. It was average.

Atmosphere: 3.5
They had redone their dining room a few years back to make it more sports oriented and the front of the house looks nice. There are a few regulars who post up almost daily, according to the server. Unfortunately for people going there to eat, and not to drink and smoke, the front part of the tavern is also the smoking section.

The back part is non smoking and does have an LCD flat screen, so were were able to watch the UK basketball game. But as Ben described the other TV back there, "It looked like Doc Brown got in his Delorean to bring that TV back from the future."

I can see how it could get pretty crowded, pretty quick on a weekend, though. It would be great if the two rooms were a little more conjoined, and less choppy.

There was also a pretty good view of the kitchen, ice machine and storage racks in front of the old brick facade. Not a good thing in our view.

Extras: 6.5
There's no real way to quantify what an extra is. Extras include different or unusually good appetizers, good beer selections, or cool Man vs. Food type challenges. In this case, Ft. Thomas Pizza had all three.

We ordered pretzels with cheese app, expecting big, fluffy pretzel sticks with the standard dressing type cup of queso cheese. Instead we got the pretzels, split down the middle, with melted mozzarella cheese baked into it. Hadn't seen them presented that way and it was definitely innovative and scrumptious. Good stuff.

The bottled beer selection was really surprising. I'm a beer snob and when I saw a Delirium Nonturnum, I knew whoever was responsible for putting that beer in their cooler was too. Good stuff, again.

Didn't get to the challenge, as it wasn't quite the weekend yet. But there are three beer challenges, that if nothing else, would provide good entertainment to watch someone else try it. The Midget: a team of 2 gets 2.5 minutes to drink 144 ounces of beer. Das Boot: One person gets to try to drink a 48 ounce beer, shaped as a boot, in 20 seconds or less. Do either and the drinks are on the house.

Respective records are posted at the bar.

Service: 6.5
I'm not one to get down on servers. I was a server in college and I know how damn difficult it is. The girls we had (yes, we had two servers) were awesome. They changed the channel to the UK for us, were attentive and obliged us when we were bothering them about the beer challenges.

The cook time was a little on the slow side, but as long as you are there to hang out, it's no big deal. They also offer delivery and carry out.

Our servers also pulled out the crayons and tic-tac-toe sheets when the kids were getting tired of watching the adults eat. We are so boring.

Final Score: 5.375
It was difficult to do the first challenge because you have nothing to compare it to. I grew up in Fort Thomas and had never actually eaten here, so unfortunately (or fortunately) Fort Thomas Pizza was our guinea pig because I was really anxious to try it.

Great first experience. I'd for sure go back.


  1. Next time try the Buffalo Chicken Pizza. They make the best one hands down.

  2. My favorite is the Mediterranean Chicken. So different and so delicious! Chicken, spinach, mandarin oranges, goat cheese . . .