In Cincinnati we’re known for some weird regional foods that go without saying. But there are even hyper-micro-regional foods for every neighborhood of our fair city that have some legacy through a restaurant or a festival. Here is a sampling of some of them.
Westwood has the Concord Grape Pie served for over half a century at Habig’s Restaurant. The delectable pie was seasonal and based on the recipe by Margaret Habig.
Price Hill has Simon Hubig’s Ives Grape Meringue pie, made from the Ives grape, which was cultivated in Cincinnati starting in the 1850s by farmers on Cincinnati’s East Side, and is still being made into wine
Camp Washington has its Palazollo family spinach ravioli, served two times a year at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church spaghetti dinner. It’s become so popular that it can now be found frozen at several local meat markets like Humbert’s Meats in Finneytown.
Evendale has the St. Rita’s Mock Turtle Soup, made from the Woebkenberg family recipe and served at their annual summer festival since 1916. Now the festival is no longer held, but the legacy of the soup lives on.
Clifton has the Zinover from Zino’s in Short Vine. It’s a delectable deep fried pizza turnover. The son of the founders still makes them for festivals and events out of a food truck.
Clifton Heights had its Potato Crisp, made at the legendary bar and café Inn the Wood. It cured many a college hangover. It was carried to the Keystone Bar & Grille in Hyde Park, after Inn the Wood was sadly demolished for new development at the University of Cincinnati.
Corryville has Mecklenburg’s Mocha Pie, based on the Coffee Toffee Pie from Blum’s in San Francisco. It was brough into being in 1975 by chef Rob Fogel.
The West End has the nectar soda, a flavor created at Mullane’s Confectionery and Soda Fountain. It’s pink and has the flavor of vanilla poundcake.
Deer Park has the Hippo Double Decker Sandwich, a heaping pile of ham and turkey, created by Harry Sarros at the Marathon Inn on Montgomery Avenue.
There’s the famous pickled herring and rye served complimentary on Shuller’s Wigwam’s relish tray.
Fairmount has the honor of creation of the original Cincinnati pizza pie, by the Church Lot Ladies of the San Antonio Catholic Church. This was the pizza that inspired Cincy’s original pizza chains like LaRosa’s, Pasquales, Angilos, and others. It was Aunt Dena, not Buddy LaRosa, who came up with sweet San Marzano red sauce.
Oakley has a dish called Baked Apples a la Oakley that was made by the Home Ec department and served at some of the local schools.
Madisonville has a pea hull beer that was served at one of the earliest taverns on the site of what is now the Bad Tom Brewery.
Winton Place has the made-to-order German hot slaw at the Old Timber Inn by nonagenarian Elmer Ferguson.
Northside had one of my faves – the Binkle Fries from Honey’s Restaurant on Hamilton Avenue. They were double fried, crispy goodness, served with a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce. They were invented by chef Shoshanna Haffner, and carried with her to her restaurant Branch in East Walnut Hills.
The African American community of Dunbar off of Red Bank Road had its seasonal blackberry cobbler, made from berries picked by kids and shared with neighbors.
If you raid the church and community cookbooks of each neighborhood, you will certainly find more of these awesome recipes.