Pizza is like a pop song: everyone has their favorite. Ask anyone and they can tell you where to get good pizza. Or, they’ll tell you that you can’t get it here because it’s in another city; that nothing here compares. And like a pop song, most of these opinions are based on a memory or association rather than on the actual merit of the pizza/music itself: it’s the pizza you survived on throughout your college years, or the song you danced to at the prom. Stripped of nostalgia, it becomes either just OK or straight up horrible—one-note flavors and a lot of cheesiness.
Bono Pizza is not this type of pizza. In fact, when you visit Bono Pizza you’ll notice two things: this is no ordinary business and, more importantly, this is no ordinary pizza. Bono is located inside a convenience store at the corner of Chambers Road and Northwest Boulevard; if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s easy to miss. Inside you’ll find the welcoming and accommodating Peggy Yerkes, who will go out of her way to ensure your visit to Bono is a pleasant one. While seating is limited, there is also a covered area behind the convenience store where you can eat, weather permitting.
I tried my first Bono pizza—the Margherita (to gauge a new pizza place you have to start with the basics)—on a Friday night. I was back on Sunday for another. And the following weekend for yet a third. While it’s not always the first thing you notice, the crust can make or break a pizza—it’s the melody that carries the rest of the song—and Bono’s crust is amazing. It’s a Napoli-style crust and the result of owner Bill Yerkes’ time in Italy—carefully crafted, hand-tossed, and wood fired at insanely high temperatures by the talented Jake Wilch. It’s a thin crust with just a little chewiness on the inside, like an artisan baguette. Fresh from the oven, you can almost hear it crackle as it cools.
I admit it—I’m a sauce guy; I like a lot of it and rely upon it to provide flavor that’s usually missing from the rest of the pizza—I depend on it to provide the melody when, in reality, it should be the harmony. Bono’s sauce is home-made from fresh tomatoes and provides the perfect harmony: it compliments Bill’s amazing crust while not overpowering the pizza. It adds a layer of complexity to the pizza as a whole; this is one pizza I don’t need slathered in sauce. (Which is not to say I wouldn’t be tempted to eat a bowl of Bono’s sauce by itself.) They also offer a house-made pesto made with fresh garlic and basil in lieu of (and just as good as) their tomato sauce.
Enter the toppings: they are the production value in this musical metaphor; layers of instrumentation on top of an already-solid tune. They’re creative, well-thought out combinations of fresh, quality ingredients; not whatever happens to be in vogue at the moment in the food world. While some combinations are clever (e.g., the Berliner with kielbasa and sauerkraut), Bono has plenty of traditional offerings, such as the San Rolando (pepperoni and Italian Sausage), the Carbonara (slowly caramelized ham/bacon and onions over Asiago, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses) and my favorite, the Puttana (black and green olives, capers, hot peppers, and artichoke hearts). You’re also free to create your own combination of up to five ingredients (these tend to change, based on what’s fresh and available). Bono has a flat $10.00 per pizza menu pricing, though bring cash as they are a cash-only establishment. Beverages are available from the attached convenience store.
Bono Pizza is located at 1717 Northwest Boulevard (in front of Kroger) and is open Wed. through Sun., 5pm–10pm. Although they do have take-out available (614.906.8646), I highly recommend eating your pizza on location: the taste of a fresh-out-of-the-oven Bono pizza is incomparable. It also gives you the chance to get to know Bill, Peggy, and Jake, which is as much of the Bono experience as the pizza itself.