This past Friday night my wife and I ventured out to do something we hadn’t done in a while, enjoy dinner out by ourselves, meaning without our year old son. My sister-in-law offered to take him to Disney On Ice, so we took full advantage of her offer. Since we have accumulated a large number of Groupon style certificates, I choose from them and picked the place I thought our son would least enjoy. That’s not to say that Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria isn’t kid friendly as we saw numerous families with children during our visit.
Strong’s is in Newport, Kentucky just a block down Monmouth Street from Newport on the Levee. Though I’ve likely driven past their location in the past, I have never noticed the restaurant before. I think that is partly due to the fact that they are relatively new in town. From my very brief research it looks like they opened in early April of this year.
Strong’s is built into an old house and has a bit of a funky layout because of this. Upon opening the front door there is a hallway to the back where the restrooms are. Turning right and through a narrow doorway lies the entry to the restaurant itself. The first thing you will see in the restaurant space is the large brick oven as well as most of the food prep area. We were greeted by one of the employees who took our name for the wait-list and offered us a bottled beer. There is no bar and only bottled beer is available, along with wine. There are not many areas to sit while waiting, but fortunately it was only a ten minute wait for us.
There are two dining rooms off of the main room described above. Each has just four or five small tables. There is also an outdoor patio with picnic bench seating. The brick walls are covered in memorabilia of New York and other Americana styled items. We sat in the back room and while all the tables were close together and conversation often bled from table to table, it didn’t feel overly cramped. With that said I don’t think large parties would enjoy the space.
We started with the bruschetta – six slices of fresh bread baked in the brick oven covered with marinated diced tomato, onion, herbs and garlic ($7.45). The bread was wonderful and the imported tomatoes were very good. Easily enough for the two of us to share, and larger parties would have had enough too.
Just as we had finished the bruschetta, our 16″ pizza alla vodka was delivered to our table. This specialty pizza combines fresh mozzarella, Strong’s famous cream vodka sauce, seasoned fresh mushrooms, spinach and Prosciutto Di Parma ($16.95). The pizza looked and smelled great. The toppings were all placed on top of a generous amount of mozzarella. The dough was very soft and chewy, with just a hint of crispness on the outer edges. The taste was great and I really enjoyed the vodka sauce as it wasn’t overpowering and it let the other ingredients really shine through. This definitely ranks high on my list of Cincinnati pizzas.