Lunch Out @ Balboa's

Sarah first came to Balboa's in O'Bryonville after being lured in by the 1/2 price lunch sign that is hanging across the front railing.  The pizza was good enough to warrant a visit by the two of us one day on the way home from Rookwood, and when we met for lunch last week and were looking for a cheap option, Balboa's was the pick.  It's definitely not perfect, but for an affordable lunch option, it's hard to beat.

The Food:  There is no lunch menu at Balboa's, but with half off of everything except the seafood, the prices are better than typical lunch specials anyway.  I actually read bad reviews after our visit, making me even more glad we stuck with what we knew to be good - the pizza.  We ordered a large with 1/2 green olives and pepperoni, and 1/2 margherita - basil and tomato.  At 18", the pizza seems even bigger than the slight variation from a typical Dewey's (17") or ZZ's (16").  It's the closest thing I can think of to a New York style slice available in Cincinnati, even though it wasn't quite crispy enough to fold (next time we'll ask them to leave it in a bit longer).  Balboa's pizza has a very thin crust, that expands out to a bubbly edge, and the sauce is a bit sweeter than the norm.  Both halves of the pie tasted good, and we had enough leftovers for an additional meal.

Another reason we ate Balboa's twice - we also ordered a large grilled caesar salad, which was a meal in and of itself.  Two full heads of romaine lettuce, lightly grilled, came with caesar dressing, parmesan, and croutons on top.  They bring you a knife to cut up the  lettuce yourself, which can be a bit of a chore, but no big deal.  The dressing was creamy but not thick, and while there was a bit too much for my taste, I think it was mostly a function of us not tossing the salad after cutting it up.  Bite-size croutons were classic and crunchy, and the grill does add a bit of flavor.

The Ingredients:  Nothing noted about local or organic ingredients.  For easy things like the basil on the pizza, it would be great if this was something Balboa's would consider.

The Story, Setting, & Service:  Again, the real draw here is 1/2 off at lunch on Monday through Thursday.  But, in addition, they're currently advertising the World Cup games they're showing all summer on 4 TV's at 2 bars.  They've also got lots of space and natural light in the building, with vaulted ceilings and exposed ductwork.  There's also 2 pool tables and another TV upstairs, as well as more seating.  It's a good, clean option for pool, and the service was attentive (there weren't too many people when we went on a Thursday at noon).

The Last Bite:  The pizza at Balboa's is the reason to stop in - Sarah and I agree.  They don't do it by the slice like in NYC, but you won't be disappointed by a whole pie.  For the price at lunch, this is a great place to know about.  If you split up what we ordered on this trip, you could probably happily feed 4 people for $20 - that's not something you can say very often.

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