Cuisine: Italian and beyond (pizza, crepes…)
1717 Northwest Blvd.
5xNW section of town
as the menu says: “of course it’s in the back of a liquor store, it’s bonopizza!”
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 5 PM to 10 PM
Regular alteaters may be thrown a bit off balance when trying to conceive of Bono as an alt.eats destination, but consider the case carefully: Bill Yerkes, the head ‘tosser’ at Bono Pizza is about as alternative as any human could be and Bono also meets our other alt eats criteria: off the beaten path location, authentic (with a dash of audacity) ethnic food and independently/family owned.
Bono Pizza is located in a carryout on Northwest Boulevard (almost in Grandview) in the area known as 5xNW. It features a wood fired oven and the always entertaining personality and styling of Bill Yerkes. His wife Peggy is there most evenings to take orders and take care of her customers. Bono features eighteen specialty pizzas as well as a ‘build your own’ option. All pizzas are $10 each.
Bill perfected his pizza craft during twenty odd years in Italy. His crusts and ratios are in the Italian style with all flavors balancing each other harmoniously. Italian pizza lovers have often said that the Yerkes approach to pizza pie would make any Italian proud. Bill’s non traditional half (or in his case 3/4), exhibits itself in the some of the toppings and names (Hulk, Waikiki, The Greek Boy….). Using a wood fired pizza and hand tossed techniques, the pizza may have a bit of char or not come out as a perfect circle. We like to call that real food.
The menu is a constant blank slate for Bill. There is a core group of pizzas and sometimes other dishes (maybe a salad, maybe a pepperoni roll) and who knows what else. Bono has offered crepes for $3, espresso for $1 and on occasion creme brulee in shot style glasses. Beverages can be obtained in the adjoining carry out.
The location is not without challenges. There have been issues with the roof and the space itself calls for some creativity for business hours after the carry out closes. However, customers get a “hidden clubhouse” feel about Bono that can be hard to beat.
Here are a few examples of the pizzas:
Fresh tomato sauce, pepperoni, (real – really good too) Italian Sausage and fresh Mozzarella cheese.
Smithfield peppered ham/bacon, carmelized for three plus hours with onions then lathered on a layer of Asiago and real mozzarella cheese with a sprinkling of Parmesan and “pixie dust” (that came right off the menu and not my keyboard, but at Bono….it could happen).
This pizza was created and inspired in part by the Grumpy Gourmet who has made an appearance or two at this establishment.
Here is a bit of Bono history to give the current incantation some added meaning.
The summer of 2008 was THE season for Bono Pizza in the Short North. The unconventional ways of pizza purist Bill Yerkes meshed a traditional approach to pizza (well kind of) with many non traditional elements such as a unique partnership with a Short North Bakery in a location in an alley. The enterprise should not have worked. It did. In fact it prospered. It was the darling of Short North and Victorian Village residents as well as an unofficial meeting point for Columbus Underground ilk. However, like any burning sun, it was bound to extinguish and it did in the fall of 2008.
There were attempts at rebirth. Bill came full circle with a location near his home at a site vacated by Cowtown Pizza but the site did not quite work out. Unfortunately most of 2009 was a year without a Bono Claus so the natives started to get a little restless. Bono reopened in mid 2009 and has slowly been rebuilding a following.
Alt eats specializes in some out of the way places and off the beaten path locations. For a few, the far side of 5xNW may be a bit too far. Bill does have a mobile pizza oven that can be available for events and catering (give him a call) and there is ongoing discussion of partnerships with other businesses to bring Bono to the masses on occasion. We will see what happens.