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Let's face it, until recently the Toledo area had been sorely lacking in the pizza department.
But now we have the 5th Street Pub in Perrysburg to thank for rescuing our taste buds and filling our bellies with New York-style, thin-crust pizza. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
And -- thankfully -- it's not the thin crust we are accustomed to in northwest Ohio, which is wafer-like. This pub, which claims to be Ohio's only certified Neapolitan pizzeria, is located at the site of the former Peppercorns restaurant. 5th Street Pub is the real deal: impeccable and malleable crust made from a 150-year-old recipe, house-made mozzarella and other cheeses, and a perfect pairing of fresh tomato sauce and minty basil.
There are 12 pizzas listed on the menu that are baked in a handmade Italian Stefano Ferrara Napoli brick oven, which is visible from the dining room, and are priced from $9 to $16.
RELATED: Check out 5th Street Pub's menu
The pizzas are cut in quarter slices, but by the second slice we were masters of the fold-over. We sampled the margherita ($9), sausage pesto ($13), La Montanara ($14), prosciutto di parma ($16), and a build-your-own with mozzarella, mushrooms, pepperoni, and pancetta ($14).
We had to try the traditional margherita for a taste of what all the pizzas are based on. It's served with chunky tomato sauce that lets the fresh tomatoes shine through rather than covering up the taste with too many additions. Add in a bit of olive oil and top with gooey, fresh mozzarella and salty pecorino Romano cheeses and large basil leaves -- it's a classic for a reason.
The freshness of the ingredients was evident on all the other pizzas we tried as well: prosciutto di parma (Italian ham), marinated mushrooms, thick chunks of pepperoni, pancetta (Italian bacon), imported Italian sausage, and pesto sauce.
Address: 105 W. Fifth St. Perrysburg
Hours: 11 a.m. to mindight Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations accepted for parties of 10 or more.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V
Web site: 5thstreetpub.com
The La Montanara stands out because its dough is fried and it is based on the best pizza in New York City as ranked by the New York Times. The crust is crispier than the others and definitely sturdier, offering a nice foundation for the pecorino Romano and smoked mozzarella.
If you're visiting the pub, you're likely there for the pizza, but it offers other menu items such as a sangria-marinated ribeye steak and caprese burger. As appetizers, we decided to go with the spicy pork meatballs on a plate ($6.50) and Mozzarella Tower ($9).
The meatballs are moist and flavorful, served with tomato sauce and melted provolone cheese and also deserving of high praise.
The Mozzarella Tower is an over-the-top authentic version of the "cheese stick" appetizer with fresh slices of mozzarella flash fried and served with a chunky tomato sauce and garlic and balsamic dressings.
If you're not too stuffed on pizza, try having another one for dessert. The pizza fritta is like an elephant ear that went to finishing school: a flash-fried pizza crust topped with your choice of cinnamon apples or strawberry puree.
It's a carb overload, but worth it.
A five-star rating for a pizza joint? The pizza is that good, making it one of the best restaurants in the Toledo area.
There is a cautionary note to pass along. It is very loud in the dining room, especially on a Saturday evening. The noise carries over from the bar, which serves beer, wine, and cocktails, along with classic rock being piped in -- but it is a pub after all.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org -83.62791
Finally, pizza in the area with authenticity.