This past Friday night I took my family and my parents to the Tusculum Grille for dinner. I had previously read about this restaurant on Kellogg Avenue near Lunken Airport from an article on Soapbox. I must admit that I was doubting my decision as we pulled into the dark parking lot. The building was not well-lit and sits in a rather rundown and desolate part of town.
My hesitations continued as we entered the restaurant, which is actually more setup as a bar. The main room has a very large bar that spans the back wall, along with an open dance floor on one side and a small stage for bands to perform. On the other side of the room are a few tables and high tops. There were no other people eating dinner inside and just over a handful of people gathered at the bar and high tops. I’m hoping it is a much more popular place during boating season, as it’s just down the road from Four Seasons Marina.
There was just one employee working the entire room including the bar, but that was okay due to the small crowd. He greeted our table right away and was quick to bring back drinks. There are only five or so beers on tap and nothing that really jumped out at me. The bottle selection wasn’t much better and could really use some good craft beer offerings.
Since it was a late dinner for us and we were all very hungry, we started with their appetizer sampler ($9). This consisted of three mozzarella sticks, two chicken tenders, five mini corndogs, and a half order of onion rings. It was a ton of fried food that all appeared to be direct from a frozen bag. However it was served hot and we ate every last bite.
We ordered two different specialty pizzas to share for dinner. First up was the works with pepperoni, sausage, banana peppers, red onion, mushrooms and black olives ($15). At this point I really wasn’t expecting much from the pizza, but I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t tell if the dough was made from scratch, and I doubt that it is, but the sauce is their own recipe. The pizza has a very thin crust and was piled high with toppings. The crust reminded me a lot of Donatos, but this pizza is cut into bigger squares. Overall it was a good pizza.
Since it was a Friday in Lent my mom demanded a meatless pizza, so our other choice was the veggie with black olives, mushrooms, red onion, banana peppers, and extra cheese ($13). We didn’t realize it at the time of ordering but we ended up with two very similar pizzas, just that one had a couple of meets on it. This pizza was much like the first and we enjoyed it. Though I would definitely pick the works over the veggie when given the choice.
There is definitely nothing fancy about Tusculum Grille. Though it isn’t dirty inside, it feels much more like a bar than someplace to enjoy dinner. However the patio out front with the party ready UC tailgate fire truck parked nearby looks like it could be a fun place to spend a Saturday afternoon once the weather is warmer. With that said the pizza that we had was good. I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat it again, but they do offer delivery to some nearby neighborhoods.