I was in my sophomore year of college before it even occurred to me that a person might order something other than pizza at Hideaway Pizza.
A guest lecturer had come to OSU to talk about journalism and a few of us from the newspaper took him to the original Hideaway for lunch, at which point he completely flummoxed me by ordering a Dagwood sandwich ($8.95) with spicy brown mustard.
I mean...there are non-pizza items on the menu, which means they’re okay with making and serving things that aren’t pizza to customers. And, given Hideaway’s somewhat storied history in the state, it’s a good bet they wouldn’t let people order food that wasn’t up to the same standard as their pizzas.
Fast forward to [LOUDLY COUGHING OVER THE WORDS “20 YEARS”] later and Hideaway Pizza has opened a new location (5022 N. Western Ave.) that is somehow both fancy AND schmancy.
And while I fully intend to someday rank the specialty pizzas at Hideaway from the least favorite to the Hideaway Special (which we all agree is the best, right?), I decided to honor the memory of that one guy who ordered a sandwich that one time whose name I couldn’t remember for $100 million by reviewing the restaurant’s non-pizza menu.
If you don’t start with a 50/50 ($8.95) — that’s a mix of fried mozzarella sticks and fried mushrooms — then why are you even here, man? This is Hideaway 101. You eat the mozzarella sticks while they’re still melty and gooey, taking great care not to burn the top of your mouth and then accidentally doing it anyway, and then the mushrooms once they’ve cooled down enough to not squirt hot fryer oil on your tongue.
But if I’m being honest, I think I might prefer the recently returned fried raviolis ($4.95) to the mozzarella sticks. The outside is coated in buttery crisp fried breadcrumbs, but once you bite through those and the pasta, you’re rewarded with a perfect melted center of mozzarella. The ratio of cheese to crust is better and the form factor is ideal for piling on the chunky marinara and eating it with a fork, like a gentleman.
Perhaps you’re going for something healthier before indulging in a carb-a-thon, in which case I still love a Just-a-Beginner salad ($3.45) after all these years. Mixed greens. Black olives. Diced tomatoes. A single pepperoncini. Douse that bad boy with bleu cheese or Hideaway ranch and just feel the health coursing through your veins.
(P.S. I will trade you my olives for your pepperoncini. That’s a standing offer.)
Okay, I’m not going to tell you not to order pizza at Hideaway Pizza. It’s in the name, which is a pretty decent indicator that it’s their specialty. But! If you’re having pizza that night or you had pizza yesterday or maybe you’re rolling solo and you don’t want to buy a whole pizza, then there are options.
Maddeningly good options.
Because when you try the pesto chicken florentine pasta ($10.95), you’re suddenly going to be struck with the following dilemma: Next time you come to Hideaway with friends, they’re going to want pizza and you are going to be craving this pasta again.
It’s an assertive pesto; flavorful, but not offensively so. There’s feta and mushrooms and chunks of chicken interspersed in the pasta, so you’re always getting a different bite, but it’s always green and bursting with basil. I loved it.
Not everyone likes pesto, because some people are born evil, but if you’re one of the damned, there’s a second option I recommend: Big Kid Mac 'N' Cheese ($10.95).
There’s a lot of very creamy, cheesy pasta studded with pieces of grilled chicken and liberally covered in bacon. (I know this is a pretty red state, but if you can’t enjoy your bacon liberally, there’s something wrong in your brain.)
Who was the first person to combine chicken, bacon and ranch dressing? I’d like to shake their hand and lean in slowly for some butterfly kisses, because this is just a great combo. Hideaway’s chicken bacon ranch sandwich ($9.95) comes on a Hawaiian sweet roll with shredded lettuce and tomato slices and melted mozzarella holding the whole mess together. And it is definitely a mess. A delicious mess, but a mess nonetheless. Ask for extra napkins or just wear that face full of ranch like the badge of honor it is.
Now, you shouldn’t still be hungry at this point, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and the heart might be trying to impress the stomach by ordering a lemon-blueberry sweetza ($5.99). This dessert for two (or more) is a big, freshly baked lemon sugar cookie filled with lots of juicy blueberries. The whole thing comes topped with vanilla ice cream and a blueberry puree drizzle.
It. Tastes. Like. Froot Loops.
Maybe that’s not your thing, but it’s definitely my thing. Chewy, gooey sugar cookie is such a treat and the tart pop of blueberry is a perfect balance with the smooth ice cream. I’d tell you to save room for it, but I’m fairly certain your stomach will magically manifest a cookie-shaped space for it.
I’m still not going to tell you to go to Hideaway Pizza and not get pizza. They make good pizza. But if you’re looking for something different, different can be really good, too.