Forget the food court

Forget the food court

Spinoza’s is fresh and delicious

By Brian P. Sharp

photo: Spinoza’s suggests ordering pizzas side by side, for those who can’t choose between their 16 choices

On a recent Friday evening, I went with a friend to Spinoza’s Pizza and Salads inside the Fairfield Commons Mall. Certainly, we have all experienced mall food courts or chain restaurants tucked inside malls – and the fact most generally leave you disappointed. But don’t be fooled by the location – Spinoza’s is different – very different!

As we walked up to the restaurant, we heard music. It was not the typical pipe-in elevator or light pop music normally found in these settings, but in fact live music from an acoustic guitar player. Hmm, this is not the typical mall food court restaurant – no one is yelling “free sample” at me. So, we go in and ask for a table, only to be told that there is a 30 minute wait, but they will take our phone number and text us when the table is ready or we can wait at the bar (though the bar is packed – always a good sign). We decided to stick around and listen to the music. As we were listening, I noticed a flat screen monitor on the wall highlighting the artists that will be performing at Spinoza’s. Unbelievably, there is a different one every weekend. This isn’t your typical restaurant performer either – he was from Nashville and had CDs for purchase. A great voice and a talented acoustic guitar player. I am already impressed.

The 30 minutes quickly passed and we were taken to a booth. Greeted by a cheerful server, drink orders were taken while we began to look over the menu. The menu is full of options – appetizers, artisan salads, sandwiches, calzones and gourmet pizzas. Again, not the typical mall pizza! Owner Glen Brailey is no stranger to great pizza – once involved in Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory, and one of Dayton’s first wood fired pizza makers at Pacchia in the Oregon District, these truly are gourmet.

We decided to try a “starter” and ordered the Pizza Spins while we continued looking over the menu.

The Spins arrived – basically they were pizza croissants. Small, perfectly baked and full of flavor, these pepperoni and mozzarella croissants were served with roasted garlic aioli as well as pizza sauce for dipping. Other appetizers included “Swirl” bread sticks, garlic bread and Caprese flatbread. Appetizers range in price from $2.99 to $6.99.

Decisions were made – I ordered a salad and Steve ordered pizza. I chose the Southwestern Salad – a mixture of lettuces served with onions, peppers, spicy black beans, smoked Gouda cheese and tortilla chips. I also added fajita chicken to make it more dinner-appropriate. My salad was fresh and crisp and certainly big enough for an entrée. The large is big enough to share. The salad options are plentiful and include things like a Drunken Goat salad, a Spinoza’s version of a Caesar salad, a Greek salad and Iron Man salad. Salads are offered in two sizes and can have chicken added for $2 or $4. Additionally, you can share the large size. Regular size salads range in price from $5.49 to $6.49 (without chicken) and full size salads range in price from $9.99 to $12.99.

Sandwich options include a turkey bacon club, Italian club and chicken gorgonzola flatbread and range in price from $8.99 to $9.99. Additionally, calzones are offered and include a basil chicken calzona, a big Italian calzona and a create-your-own option. The calzones range in price from $8.99 to $9.49.

Pizzas are the biggest part of the menu, and will keep people coming back. The menu asks the question, “can’t decide?” and then suggests patrons go side by side – half of one, half of another. Steve ordered a side by side – half of a chipotle chicken ranch and half of an Arizana pizza. The chipotle chicken ranch was a combination of chipotle pesto, mozzarella cheese, bell peppers, applewood smoked bacon, roasted chicken and Roma tomatoes topped with chipotle ranch after baking. The Arizana is topped with chorizo sausage, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, cilantro and dollops of ricotta cheese that was all sitting atop spicy tomato sauce with a mixture of smoked gouda, mozzarella and provolone cheeses. The chipotle ranch side had some kick and was full of flavor. The Arizana side was spicy with the addition of the chorizo sausage, but was offset nicely by the creamy ricotta.

Pizza choices are plentiful – 16 actually – or you can create your own. There are basic deluxe and classic Italian options as well as a Greek pizza, Jamaican jerk chicken with gouda and even a pizza topped with hummus. Pizzas are offered in three sizes and range in price from $9 to $20. There is even a gluten-free crust option.

As if the dinner menu isn’t enough, there are desserts as well, like a cookie sundae or even a Nutella pizza. Brailey has also started making homemade ice cream. The flavors vary depending on what he has made that week. While we were visiting the ice cream flavors were: Madagascar vanilla, coffee fudge, sea salt caramel, Nutella chocolate chip, ginger snap cookie, maple almond butter, Bryan’s chocolate chip cookie and Bee’s Knees – a combination of peanut butter and honey. We decided on an ice cream sampler of Bee’s Knees, sea salt caramel and coffee fudge. The ice cream was delicious! Certainly, the ice cream was a perfect finishing touch to a great dinner. The Bee’s Knees was more peanut butter with a hint of honey, while the sea salt caramel was consistent with a homemade caramel with a topping of coarse salt. The coffee fudge had a rich fudge running throughout the coffee ice cream.

The bottom line is this is NOT the typical mall food court or restaurant option. This is a great, locally-owned restaurant with delicious fresh food and entertainment – on the weekends – that should not be missed! Even if you are just out shopping and want something sweet, stop in for homemade ice cream. You will not be disappointed. Glen Brailey knows what he is doing, and this is certainly not to be missed!

Spinoza’s Pizza and Salads is located at 2727 Fairfield Commons Blvd. in Beavercreek. For more information, please call 937.426.7799 or visit spinozas.com.

 

Reach DCP freelance writer Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@DaytonCityPaper.com .

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