Friday, April 1, 2016

15 North Pizza Brings OTR Flavors to Fort Thomas

Fire-roasted peppers make their way into a multitude of recipes at 15 North. FTM file. 
By Jennifer Heindl 

It’s been nearly 2 years since Fort Thomas Matters reported the story of Ed & Lori Gossman purchasing the building at 15 N Fort Thomas Avenue. The community waited for one long year as the Gossmans made extensive renovations to the property by opening up the floor plan and adding a wood-fired pizza oven. The resulting restaurant was a Neapolitan inspired pizzeria with a variety of accompanying small plate dishes and an emphasis on high quality food.

“Really, it’s a Trattoria type experience,” said Lori. “Some people compare our restaurant to what they would find in the newly revitalized Over the Rhine restaurant district and that’s a good comparison. It’s a slightly elevated dining experience, but we’re still family friendly.” 

A trattoria is an Italian restaurant serving simple food. For 15 North Pizza, simple translates to an emphasis on fresh, quality ingredients. As they approach the restaurant’s 1-year anniversary, Ed & Lori shared some challenges, some changes and some ideas that are on the horizon.

FTM file. 

As with any new business the first year has been a period of adjustment and working out the kinks – discovering what worked and what didn’t. One benefit of a small, locally owned business is flexibility. Ed and Lori have done a great job of observing the community and listening to feedback at 15 North Pizza.  They’re continually making adjustments in order to modify and improve their menu offerings as well as their service.

Even though the pizzas cook quickly in the wood-fired oven, they noticed other menu items were slowing down the process of getting food out to the customers. The Gossmans decided to eliminate some menu items which seemed to bog down the preparation and cooking process. This simple change has made a positive impact on wait times for food.

Families are a big part of the Fort Thomas community and the Gossmans wanted to make it easier for families to choose 15 North as their go-to place for dinner out. The addition of a kid’s menu with kid-friendly pizza options and “Kids Eat Free” on Sundays is a direct result of their attempt to appeal to families.

“There are a lot of stay-at-home moms in Fort Thomas which means single income homes, so we really wanted to give back to the family economy and do ‘kids eat free’ on Sundays,” said Lori.  

Supporting other local businesses is important to the Gossmans.

They regularly feature beers brewed in the tri-state and Ed even went so far as to do some experimentation using the yeast from the Rhinegeist brewery fermentation process to make a starter for his pizza dough. The result was a dough with some nuanced flavors and a different texture. He’s eager to try it again with other yeasts as well as other crust options like sourdough.

A local collaboration was born from a friendship with the gift shop right next door. Ed & Lori will be featuring chef-curated selections for meat & cheese boards on their menu with frequently changing options and they wanted a particular product to use in serving the food. They went to Fort Thomas Central owner, Barb Thomas, to source the serving boards they had in mind.

“We had used a board like that in our previous restaurant and Barb was able to find just what we needed,” said Ed. Thomas will offer the boards for sale at Fort Thomas Central and 15 North staff can refer restaurant customers next door to the gift shop if they’d like purchase the same board for use in their home.

Lori has been researching wine options and has hand selected some new wines for the 15 North Pizza wine list. “We will still have a range of price points, but we’re bringing in some higher quality and better brands,” said Lori. “We also want people to know that we feature a 6 ounce pour versus a 5 ounce pour that you find in most other restaurants.” Bottles of wine are half price on Wednesday nights and draft beer is half price on Tuesday nights.

Though they’re still in the planning stages, the next phase of development for 15 North will be a bourbon bar in the lower level off the patio with the possibility of adding TVs and bourbon bar. The close proximity to the patio would allow for customers to enjoy bourbon either on the patio or in the downstairs lounge.

Another idea on the drawing board is a raised bed vegetable and herb garden on the south side of the restaurant between the building and the parking area. “I can order a container of arugula from our suppliers and it tastes good, but using fresh arugula from the garden brings a whole added level of flavor to a dish,” said Ed.

Sourcing produce from local farms vs. all produce coming from a supplier is also in the long-term plan for 15 North Pizza. The Gossmans hope to feature dishes like the Farmer’s Market Salad and the Farmer’s Market Pizza to utilize seasonal produce. The Winter Panzanella Salad has been a huge hit with current customers and Ed is working on an idea for a Spring Panzanella Salad that would utilize vegetables that are starting to come into season now.

As the weather continues to warm up, the patio will reopen for regular business which will include live music outside most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The Gossmans have also planned for some new tables and umbrellas for the patio to enhance the atmosphere.

The exciting offerings at 15 North Pizza keep getting better and better and the food is some of the best Fort Thomas has ever had to offer. Why drive to OTR? We have something great in our own hometown.

What’s happening at 15 North? 

Sunday: Kids eat FREE
Tuesday: ½ price draft beer
Wednesday: ½ price bottles of wine
Thursday, Friday & Saturday: Live music on the patio with Jerome, Johnny Delagrange, Spare Change, Naked Lunch, Danny Frazier and Out of the Blue (check the 15 North Facebook page for updates about artists and times each week).

5 comments:

  1. Everything sounds like a great idea except for the cigar smoke. Love the pizzas!

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  2. No cigars outside PLEASE!!

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  3. Agree. Love cigars but I don't see it meshing with pizza and families. Try a killer brunch instead.

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  4. agree... sounds like exciting times, and looking forward to many summer evenings on the patio.

    do not like the cigar idea though.

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  5. I'd like some soft-scape features inside to lessen the noise level. As an official old guy, my hearing in crowds isn't great and trying to talk across the table is difficult. If there were some material coverings or something to stop the sound bouncing off windows and ceiling it would really help.

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