Thus was born Pizza Vino, conceived by Zaucha and produced and bottled by Las Vinas Winery in Lodi, California. The line debuted in December, but already is enjoying strong sales in seven states and at more than 300 Ohio locations, including Gallucci's and various Giant Eagle, Heinen's, and Acme locations.
Pizza Vino comes in two varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir (a Pinot Grigio, designed to complement white pizzas, is due this month). Each retails for $8.99 per bottle, and for the price, their taste isn't bad at all.
Neither the Cab nor the Pinot has very much body, but they are fruity as all get-out, and thus do a commendable job of taming the spiciness and acidity of your average pie. We lean toward the Cab, with its bright cherry flavors and fresh bouquet. The Pinot is sweeter -- almost sherry-like -- with hints of raisin. Still, either one would go down easy enough on the deck or at a picnic, even with ribs, burgers, or wings. For more information, go to pizzavino.com.
Deep grooves and thin crusts . . . Beautiful pizzas are coming out of the kitchen at Gillespie's Map Room (1281 West Ninth Street, 216-621-7747), a friendly neighborhood bar in the Warehouse District. They're the creations of Ted Karter, a multitalented guy who spent the past decade tossing the dough at venerable Little Italy stronghold Mama Santa's while pursuing a notable career on the local Goth-industrial scene as DJ Cable. Now the Map Room's new kitchen manager, Karter is baking up some of the best pizzas in town, with thin yet chewy crusts; rich, garlicky tomato sauce; and plenty of flavorful toppings. Our large double-cheese with mushrooms and pepperoni ($12.50) was one of the best things we'd eaten all week. Kitchen hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, till midnight Friday and Saturday, and 6 p.m. to midnight Sunday.