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Pizza in Racine, IL and Dayton, OH

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Seth Zurer Feb 23, 2004 10:52 PM

The inimitable Joe H made some tantalizing comments in a thread on the "Best" board about the promis of top notch pizza in two unlikely places. He mentioned Wells Brothers in Racine WI, and mentioned "a number" of places in Dayton, OH.

Has anyone been to Well's Brothers? Can anyone shed light on which places he might be referring to in Dayton. I am truly intrigued.

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    Aaron D RE: Seth Zurer Feb 23, 2004 11:28 PM

    Hey Seth,

    I'm not sure that Joe claimed Dayton-style pizza was top-notch. I didn't get a chance to try it, but haven't sensed widespread enthusiasm. I posed this question a year ago, and I've linked below. The pasted link is from an old trip to Dayton, if you're heading that way. Don't miss Graeter's,

    http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boar...

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    9 Replies
    1. re: Aaron D
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      Seth Zurer RE: Aaron D Feb 24, 2004 10:15 AM

      Aaron,

      Thanks for the link.

      Maybe Joe H didn't mean it was good, but he seemed to indicate that it should be included in a book about pizza, maybe just for the sake of completeness.

      I think I went to a Graeters in Cincinnati. Pretty good, but I wasn't bowled over. Or maybe I'm thinking of a different place?

      What about the Racine spot?

      seth

      1. re: Seth Zurer
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        seth zurer RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 10:16 AM

        I forgot, here's the link to the original comment.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. re: seth zurer
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          Joe H. RE: seth zurer Feb 24, 2004 02:30 PM

          The link to this is below. Just a second opinion. I never did make it to the place in Milwaukee, Zaffiro's (which is my list!) that he writes about.

          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        2. re: Seth Zurer
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          jlawrence01 RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 12:53 PM

          As a Cincinnati native, I have never figured what was so special anout Graeter's Ice Cream. I have always thought that Aglemesis Brothers in Oakley is a much better premium ice cream and worth making the special trip.

          For inexpensive ice cream, the United Dairy Farmers has some pretty good ice cream.

          1. re: jlawrence01
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            Joe H. RE: jlawrence01 Feb 24, 2004 02:21 PM

            "Homemade" brand oreo was picked by People magazine about 15 years ago as the single best ice cream flavor in America. It's not. But it's good cheap ice cream. Respectfully but I strongly disagree about Graeter's for the flavors a sundaes noted above.

            1. re: Joe H.
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              mrnyc RE: Joe H. Feb 24, 2004 02:30 PM

              ohio has several fantastic regional ice cream brands, GRAETERS in cinci/cols, YOUNGS DAIRY FARM dayton/yellow springs, TOFTS in north central, HONEY HUT (my fav) and WOO CITY cleveland and finally STRICKLANDS akron.

              i've had them all and often and i can say all are outstanding.

              1. re: mrnyc
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                Joe H. RE: mrnyc Feb 24, 2004 02:52 PM

                I've had Young's, Toft's and Dietsch's in Findlay also. They are all really good!

                1. re: mrnyc
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                  jlawrence01 RE: mrnyc Feb 24, 2004 03:33 PM

                  I like Young's Jersey Dairy too but they have been fighting a lot of bad publicity since they had the salmonella outbreak in their dairy two years ago related to their use of raw milk.

            2. re: Seth Zurer
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              Joe H. RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 02:19 PM

              What did you have at Graeter's? Their "chip" flavors, Turtle Sundae and Swiss sundae are all superb.

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            jlawrence01 RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 09:12 AM

            I think that the pizza that gets all the press in Dayton, OH is Marion's Pizza which serves a cracker-thin crust. Personally, I have never been all that enthralled with it but a lot of the natives swear by it. The place is popular and the owner has a collection of celebrity photos all over the restaurant.

            Personally, I prefer the more standard Cassano's pizza which is nothing exceptional but is pretty decent.

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              Jack C. RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 12:17 PM

              There are two elements to "Dayton Style" pizza. The first is a very thin crust (cracker style). This crust is never chewey or doughy and is usually very crisp. The second element is the way they cut the pie into small squares as opposed to slices.

              Usually the toppings are what you get anywhere varying in degrees of quality with the exception of the sausage topping which is usually very mediocre at best.

              Cassano's has pretty much always been the standard of what Dayton Style pizza is all about. Back in the 60's they started putting toppings on their pizza like pineapple and ham. One of the truly bizzare toppings they experminted with was the peanut pizza!

              Along with Cassano's other purveyors of Dayton Style pizza are Marion's and Ron's Pizza. If your ever visiting the Gem City and stop at any of these places you'll get a pretty good idea of what it's like. If your from NYC or Chicago you'll probably hate it. But growing up in Dayton in the 60's it's pretty much all you could get. Several of my friends who have moved away always have to stop and get a pizza from Cassano's when their back in town.

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                mrnyc RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 02:22 PM

                yes dayton certainly does have its own unique style and its widespread around there. kids esp love it it's like party pizza. CASSANO'S is a popular local chain and prob about the best, we love that salty bottomed crust. MARIONS has eat in restaurants. there are independents as well.

                as someone said its true the goofy crumbled sausage is the least of the toppings but its all part of the fun of eating it. try it sometime, it's very addictive. also, fyi--keep in mind cinci natives love to rag on dayton so take their dayton comments with a grain of salt.

                3 Replies
                1. re: mrnyc
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                  ScottW RE: mrnyc Feb 29, 2004 02:59 PM

                  Not being from Dayton, I find Dayton style pizza to be kind of, well, let's say weird. I suppose I can see how it is addictive, but I am certaintly not addicted to it.

                  However, Dayton does have a place that makes a pretty darn good NY style Pizza: The Flying Pizza. There are two locations, one downtown on Main street (the 100 block of Main), and one right across from WSU. The one downtown is better IMO, and they use different toppings. For example, the one downtown uses a small grind sausage, kind of like ground beef, while the one by WSU uses chunks of sausage. My preference for the smaller grind makes me prefer the former.

                  After coming from SoCal, which has very poor pizza at best, I am pleased to have access to a pizza the caliber of The Flying Pizza. Now, those of you from NYC can dismiss this, but it still is an assett for Dayton.

                  1. re: ScottW
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                    Joe H. RE: ScottW Feb 29, 2004 05:48 PM

                    I'm not trying to be disagreeable but there are many, including myself, who believe the standard for pizza is not New York but rather New Haven. In fact having eaten pizza in Trenton, Racine, Providence, Old Forge and elsewhere there are many people who believe that their hometown pie is superior to any other.

                    1. re: Joe H.
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                      Lisa M.R. RE: Joe H. Mar 6, 2004 03:21 PM

                      I moved to Cincinnati from NY (Westchester) almost a year ago. Pizza has been the one thing I miss the most having had equal access to NYC/Brooklyn and New Haven. We have been to Dayton a few times and each time we go to Flying Pizza. It is not at all like what I miss but it's "almost" as good as any corner pizza place in NY. And way better than anything in Cincinnati. I saw that they are opening a Flying Pizza on Fields Ertl (hope it's the same).

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                  Bob Libkind RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 03:53 PM

                  I'm unfamiliar with Wells Bros. in Racine, but when I visit the in-laws there, I usually stop at one of the DeRango's restaurants. Amazingly, it is just like the pizza described in the many Dayton responses to your query: cracker-thin, crisp crust. I'm from Philadelphia, so based on the evidence of Dayton and Racine, perhaps this type of crust is a Midwestern thing (though I never heard of it in Chicago).

                  If you are going to Racine, while DeRango's pizza is fine, the best local food is the Danish pastry, particularly the kringle. It's the ultimate coffee ring of layers and layers of butter and dough. Stick with the pecan; the fruit kringles, though tasty, tend to get soggy.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bob Libkind
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                    Julianne Kalogerson RE: Bob Libkind Mar 21, 2004 08:24 PM

                    Durango's Pizza is one of a kind. I was born and raised in Racine and as often as we can, when in Racine, first to Durango's we all go. My questions, is there any way you can buy pizza's from Durango's probably unbaked and shipped to other states? I do order kringle, only because I was raised in a bakery in Racine. If anybody knows an answer to my question, please email. Thanks to all who read.

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                    Joe H. RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 06:06 PM

                    It's linked below. Scroll down to where he is asked what is his favorite restaurant and you'll see it. Spoken with passion by the director of the "Racine tavern league," among other pursuits.

                    Link: http://www.thesandcarversmusic.com/bi...

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                      BenD RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 09:29 PM

                      Wells Bros does a nice pizza. Thin crispy crust, tasty sausage, kinda burnt on the edges. That is the style I like. They have a good sauce to cheese to crust ratio. They are consistent. The one complaint I would have is the burnt cornmeal on the bottom of the pizza. I also like DeRangos that someone else metioned. They are in Kenosha also.

                      I don’t think this would be a worth a drive just for the pizza. However, if you were to get a kringle at Lehmans or stop by the slightly weird cheese shops on 94 in Kenosha or Tenutas (52nd st Kenosha) deli for some Italian style cheeses made in Wisconsin and very tasty homemade Italian sausage. It could make for a good day.

                      While in Racine why not hit Milwaukee for Kopp's custard, Zaffiro's pizza, Solly's burgers, and/or Speed Queen bar-b-que.

                      Late
                      BenD

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                        BenD RE: Seth Zurer Feb 24, 2004 09:29 PM

                        Wells Bros does a nice pizza. Thin crispy crust, tasty sausage, kinda burnt on the edges. That is the style I like. They have a good sauce to cheese to crust ratio. They are consistent. The one complaint I would have is the burnt cornmeal on the bottom of the pizza. I also like DeRangos that someone else metioned. They are in Kenosha also.

                        I don’t think this would be a worth a drive just for the pizza. However, if you were to get a kringle at Lehmans or stop by the slightly weird cheese shops on 94 in Kenosha or Tenutas (52nd st Kenosha) deli for some Italian style cheeses made in Wisconsin and very tasty homemade Italian sausage. It could make for a good day.

                        While in Racine why not hit Milwaukee for Kopp's custard, Zaffiro's pizza, Solly's burgers, and/or Speed Queen bar-b-que.

                        Late
                        BenD

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: BenD
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                          Joe H. RE: BenD Feb 25, 2004 10:53 AM

                          Tenuta's has great sport peppers and gardiniera (sp?) and my opinions about Kopp's have not exhausted the hyperbole I've used to describe it! But others have recommended Zaffiro's pizza and, driving from Chicago, I've never lasted past Racine and Wells Brothers to try it. Is it that good? Lehman's is appreciated. It would serve well for dessert after pizza! (I've enjoyed sitting at the bar in Wells Brothers, eating pizza and talking about the Packers.) Thanks.

                          1. re: Joe H.
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                            BenD RE: Joe H. Feb 25, 2004 08:30 PM

                            Honestly, I seldom make the drive for Zaffiro's. Wells Bros is closer for me. I do think it is worth a try. The suprising thing would be how similar they are in pizza and atmosphere. Im am sure Packers talk is fine either way.

                            Larsen is the name of bakery that I like for kringles. I made a mistake in my previous post.
                            (Thanks for the help Bob) Now I gotta go try Bendtsen's

                            1. re: BenD
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                              Joe H. RE: BenD Feb 25, 2004 09:06 PM

                              I found this link below which includes a photo from the outside and a number of raves about it. It really does sound very similar to Wells Brothers. After you click on the link if you scroll to the bottom and the click on overview it will take you to the editorial review of it.

                              Link: http://www.digitalcity.com/milwaukee/...

                          2. re: BenD
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                            Seth Zurer RE: BenD Feb 25, 2004 10:54 AM

                            Sounds like a great daytrip from chicago! Thanks.

                            1. re: Seth Zurer
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                              Joe H. RE: Seth Zurer Feb 25, 2004 10:57 AM

                              Seth, it's worth the extra 30 minutes to go to Kopps's who also have good hamburgers. I'd be really interested in your opinion about Wells Brothers. Their Italian sausage is one of the best toppings by the way. It's not Pepe's or Grimaldi's but it's really good.

                            2. re: BenD
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                              Bob Libkind RE: BenD Feb 25, 2004 03:29 PM

                              Do go to Racine for the kringle. But DO NOT get it at Lehmann's. Much too doughy; more akin to what the average bakery calls Danish pastry (in other words, a mess of sweet dough with not nearly enough butter or layers) than real Danish pastry.

                              The best, IMHO, is Bendtsen's Bakery 3200 Washington Ave. They make them the old-fashioned way, with plenty of butter. Next block up and across the street is another fine Danish bakery, Larsen; they also make a good kringle, but what they excel at is the sweet poppy roll. About a mile away on Durand is O&H Bakery, located within the "Danish Uncle" upscale convenience store (you can buy rollepolse and other Danish specialties there). O&H is a great all-around bakery, too.

                              Whichever bakery who patronize, if you're purchasing kringle to travel, avoid the fruit versions. Though delicious, they tend to get soggy if you don't eat them on the day they're made. Best to stick to the pecan, or (one of my favorites, though untraditional) the almond macaroon at Bendtsen's.

                              http://www.bendtsensbakery.com
                              http://www.ohdanishbakery.com/
                              http://www.larsenbakery.com/

                              1. re: Bob Libkind
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                                BenD RE: Bob Libkind Feb 25, 2004 08:15 PM

                                Your right I got Lehmans mixed with Larsen.

                                I always go with the pecan.

                                1. re: BenD
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                                  chicagostyledog RE: BenD Dec 12, 2007 08:11 PM

                                  Favorite thin crust pizza in Racine is Mike and Angelo's and Zaffiro's in Milwaukee.

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