Brews News

Mac's Pizza Pub

Chad W. Lutz
When one thinks of pizza, dripping, drooling, drizzling toppings bubbling in a hot bed of gooey cheese neatly nestled atop a pound, or more, of white flour dough comes to mind. If you’re a pizza lover, you probably need to wipe off your computer (easy, killer). However, if you’re health conscious like I am, you’re probably scrambling for your Maalox and Zumba videos.

Americans eat pizza like we own it. In fact, according to several sources on the web, Americans eat an average of 350 slices of pizza per second. A second! That’s over 21,000 slices per minute, 1,260,000 per hour, and a whopping 30,240,000 per day. Statistics gathered by the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) shows 93 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month to the tune of 23lbs of pizza consumed per person annually. Beginning to feel full?

What’s even more bloating to the mind than how much pizza we actually consume is where to find a good slice. In a 2006 article by Ed Lavine entitled A Slice of Heaven: A History of Pizza in America, he writes, “between 1960 and 2000, the number of independents (pizza places) markedly decreased while the number of pizza chain outlets increased exponentially.” There are roughly 70,000 pie shops in the United States to choose from and hungry Buckeyes come up cantankerous far too often in a market saturated with pizza picks. Big chains like Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, and Papa John’s corner the market and account for nearly a quarter (24%) of all pizzerias in the U.S. However, one local Cincinnati pizza parlor seems to have the right recipe for success and it’s serving it up one slice at a time.

Founded in 2005 by McNeil “Mac” Ryan, Mac’s Pizza Pub offers a unique variation to the typical pizza prototype. Many competing places offer red marinara and white Alfredo sauce as a way to add variety to the traditional pizza menu, but Ryan takes a different approach and turns pizza on its crust.
Mac’s Pizza Pub 250 W. McMillan St. Cincinnati, Ohio 45219
“The original idea for the vegan pizza started with the dough,” said Mac in response to a question about his infamous vegan pizzas. After creating a sort of pact, Ryan and Clifton Natural Foods came up with vegan pizza dough which laid the foundation for many of Ryan’s most popular menu items. Mac’s Pizza Pub offers many other original pizzas, including their award-winning Chicago Euro, Flying Pig Pizza, Pesto Primavera pizza, and Spinach & Goat Cheese pizza.

But Mac’s doesn’t just do pizza. Mac’s offers hungry Cincinnatians everything from their signature creation called The Macover, which is basically pizza toppings rolled up into a pound and a half of dough, covered with parmesan cheese and garlic butter and fried until golden brown. Customers choose from a wide assortment of toppings, such as pepperoni, Italian sausage, black olive, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, spinach, ham, pineapple, and pretty much anything else you can think of to set your flavor sense afire.
The Mighty Macover awaiting a hot oil swim (Lutz 2011)
To offset the heartburn and food baby the Macover will no doubt incur, Mac’s offers another vegan-friendly menu option, the Clifton Natural Foods Vegan Burger. The Clifton Natural Foods Vegan Burger offers customers their choice of a gourmet meatless or artichoke flavored patty on a dusted wheat bun. The patty is then topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion and garnished with a dill pickle. Vegan cheese is also available upon request. That’s amore.

What’s more to love is Mac’s beer selection. When I made the trek to Mac’s back in May, I found Dead Guy, New Castle, Magic Hat # 9, Strongbow, Roebling, Samuel Adams, and Hudephol on tap and ready to quench. Mac’s houses a full bar at the front and back of the restaurant with high-end to dirt cheap liquors.
“Pizza Happy” (Lutz 2011)
While entertaining a cold can of hospitality, I asked bartender and long-time Mac’s employee Robbie Rein, a University of Cincinnati Criminal Justice major, about working at Mac’s.

“Basically it’s laid back during the day and then comes to life at night. You never know what each night will bring. Sometimes you’re serving hundreds of people and it can get kind of crazy, but we like it.”

I smiled and took another sip of my beer, rocking back and forth on my uneven bar stool. “With the amount people you get here, do you ever get drink orders wrong?”

He flashed me the same smile and said, “We don’t make mistakes, we make variations.”

Paying homage to the University of Cincinnati which sits just across McMillan St., the interior of Mac’s Pizza Pub is a proverbial Bearcat Haven. Pictures of past athletes and UC-grads-turned-somebody’s line the walls in hall of fame fashion. Giant murals, including the “smoking chef” and a blonde beauty, greet you as you walk into the dining area with pictures of rock greats like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Blues Brothers adorning the opposing wall. As you move further into the restaurant, Mac’s Pizza opens up into a small dance floor area which contains a make-shift stage and a row of bar tables and stools lining the wall to the right. Big screen TVs, typically broadcasting the Reds or Bengals, serve as most of the lighting in the bar area with three or four other lights providing a more intimate setting.

The atmosphere is fun and the energy, at times, can be over-the-top exciting. Mac’s regularly hosts local bands and DJs on the weekends and is a popular place among UC students. Their motto is, “Pizza hot, beer cold, people happy.” It appears they’ve hit those atmospheric goals right on the head.
Just the way they like it (Lutz 2011)
While they may not have thousands of locations in countries half of us probably couldn’t point out on a map if asked, Mac’s does what many other pizza places don’t; they deliver on taste, toppings, and entertainment. So the next time you find yourself in the Queen City and you’re hankering for a slice of pizza perfection, look no further than Mac’s Pizza Pub.
Mac’s Pizza is open from 11a.m. to 11p.m. Sun & Mon and 11a.m. to 2:30a.m. Tues – Sat
205 West McMillan Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45219
Prices: $4.25 and up