As vice president of Gino’s Original Pizza, Matt Wojtowicz told The Blade he had big plans for the company, expanding the family owned local chain to a major franchising operation with locations in Florida, Texas, and beyond.
That was in fall, 2015, and as of this moment those growth plans for Gino’s remain a work-in-progress. Wojtowicz, however, is executing that concept on his own. A quirky pizza joint with an extensive menu of pies that bare an unmistakable resemblance to those baked at Gino's, Pizza Cat fits right into its West Toledo neighborhood, at 4034 Monroe St. A spin-off location named Pizza Kitten, located inside Ottawa Tavern, 1817 Adams St., originally served only vegan and vegetarian pizzas but recently expanded its menu to include Pizza Cat’s offerings as well.
Having left Gino’s, he opened Pizza Cat a year ago.
Likely as a reflection of its owner, Pizza Cat has a younger, DIY-vibe that eschews tradition — takeout orders are placed by phone or through the restaurant’s Facebook page, facebook.com/pzzacat — and serves goofy/funny-named pies: Yellow Submarine, Isosceles Kramer, Wu-Tang Veggie, Bennie and the Briskets, and Clovis. Chances are if you get these references, you’ll get Pizza Cat and love its pizzas.
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Whether you’re a newbie to Pizza Cat or a wily veteran, the menu is daunting, with approximately 75 pizza combinations in four categories: pork, beef, chicken, and vegetarian, as well as the myriad options that come with the “build your own pie” order and its dozens of toppings: everything from the expected (bacon, pepperoni, banana peppers, green pepper, and mushrooms) to the unexpected (Kalamata olives, pickles, pickled beets, and vegan mac and cheese).
And if that’s not enough customization, the pizzas include four crust options: regular thin style, cauliflower, gluten free, and hemp. And did we mention Pizza Cat also serves sandwiches and wings as well?
For our two recent take-out orders from the West Toledo location — an at-home weekend dinner and a noon workday lunch for a dozen colleagues — we sampled a large but hardly comprehensive selection of Pizza Cat’s offerings. As a whole, the pizzas were hot and delicious. But of course, everyone has their favorites. Here are ours. (Unless noted, all pizzas were ordered in the standard thin crust style.)
▪ The Hawaiian Brisket ($12): ham, pineapple, and barbecue brisket. The sweet barbecue-sauced brisket yields a delicious and tender twist to the Hawaiian theme.
▪ The Charleston Chicken: sweet barbecue sauce, spicy chicken, a six-cheese blend, red onion, and pineapple on cauliflower crust ($10). The Charleston Chicken successfully embraces its sweeter side with the addition of pineapple, and the cauliflower crust is a minor revelation for those counting their carbs. It’s crunchy like a thin crust — even a day later — with little to no discernible difference in taste.
▪ Luigi’s Spicy Meatball: meatballs soaked in Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and Italian sausage links ($10). The meatballs are as big as the flavor, which you taste before even putting it in your mouth. It’s spicy without being too spicy.
▪ South Side Jay: pepperoni, bacon, and banana peppers. A smoky flavor gives this standard pizza a different and delicious identity.
▪ Dave's Spicy Reuben: a quarter-pound of corned beef with Thousand Island dressing, kraut, and spicy orange secret sauce, an intriguing and welcome variation on the classic sandwich.
▪ The Bacon Willy’s: light on pizza sauce and mustard, with ground beef, red onion, bacon, tomatoes, six-cheese blend, and pickles ($12). Don't be turned off by this combination; it tastes like a McDonald’s cheeseburger, only bigger, flatter, and much, much better.
▪ The Sultan Kitty ($10): garlic butter, feta, red onion, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, and Mediterranean spices. Whether you’re vegetarian or not, this meatless pizza will not disappoint.
For those looking to inch their way into Pizza Cat’s variety, try the well done and more traditional McLovin' ($10): sausage links, salami, and bacon.
As for what we (at least most of us) didn’t care for: the hemp crust had a displeasing aftertaste, and the Young Dems ($10) — ground beef and chicken with artichokes and Kalmata olives — was by far the least popular pizza at work. So much for that trope of newsrooms as liberal bastions.
Whether you’re an adventurous eater or not, Pizza Cat’s menu may overwhelm you, but it will not disappoint.