Pizzanati: LaRosa's

LaRosa's Pizzeria is basically a classic around here. EVERYONE from Cincinnati knows LaRosa's. The restaurant has been around for over 60 years since Buddy LaRosa first opened his doors in 1954. It's been ranked as the #1 family pizzeria and Greater Cincinnati's favorite Italian restaurant. LaRosa's was actually one of the first places we ate at when we were house hunting in Ohio.

It's a local chain, and I've had good food from there, but I've also had meh food from there. I'm sure the quality of the food depends on which location you go to, but for the sake of realism and convenience, we went to one of the restaurants that is closest to us in Finneytown. So, please keep in mind that the opinions expressed are solely based off of the experience at this location. Francisco actually expressed some contrary thoughts after he had some of their pizza recently at work, so we may just need to evaluate a different location at some point.

The LaRosa's in Finneytown is in a strip mall with a Graeter's a couple doors down - which is half the reason I picked it cuz' I can never pass up Graeter's! The interior is kind of dingy - just sort of old, worn Italian. There's an open party area, so it can get kind of loud, which it did during our visit. Walking in, it's not immediately clear where to go if you're dining in because the carryout area is almost in the way.

We started our order with the Cheese Rondos [$6.49 for 6], which I get nearly every time I have LaRosa's. These are oven-baked blossoms of pizza dough filled with cheese and you can also get them with Spinach or Pepperoni Fillings. Hmm, what an economical way to deal with pizza dough scraps! The rondos were good overall, but the balance can lean more towards dough over cheese.
We ordered a Medium Hand-Tossed Pizza ($9.49) with mushrooms. The size was average, but overall, I found the pizza to be very bland. Francisco immediately dumped on the Parmesan cheese. Overall, there was too much crust and too little cheese - I found myself scraping off the cheese to pair with a smaller bite of crust. At least there were fresh mushrooms. The balance of pizza flavorings just seemed off, and the crust had an almost unpleasant aftertaste - not sure if it was yeast, baking powder?
VERDICT: We wouldn't go out of our way to eat here again. It was disappointing overall, although I wouldn't say we would NEVER return. Looking back, we've been there right around a dozen times, so obviously we've kept coming back. It's just kind of mediocre. No complaints about the service.

I wish we had gotten the Thin crust, but I doubt that would have solved the light on cheese and flavor issue. Francisco ranked it a 5/10.


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