My family still hasn't gotten over the closing of City Oven on Banksville Road last fall. It wasn't just the thin-crust fire-roasted pizza, or the vault-like entrance built into a former coal mine: A back deck, nicely insulted from Banksville's 'burb-bound dreariness, offered enough space for a toddler to let his freak flag fly, while his parents guzzled BYOB beer and pondered their life choices.
But ever since the Banksville location closed — a victim, apparently, of constrained parking — I've found some solace at City Oven's cozy Downtown lunch spot. Tucked into the first floor of Fourth Avenue's Times Building, its bright yellow interior features a mix of window-counter seating, booths and communal tables.
All my favorites from the menu have survived, often in convenient lunch-sized form: wood-fired red and white pizza (white or wheat crust available, plus a gluten-free option for 12-inch whole pies); the roasted Portobello panini sandwich; and the mixed-green salad with gorgonzola and roasted red peppers. A $7.50 lunch combo gets you a couple slices and a side, including a soup of the day. The pizza, while eschewing gourmet-level pretension, is a couple steps above your typical lunch-counter fare: Try the vodka sauce.
What's more, the Downtown City Oven has just unveiled expanded evening hours — to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Which means my kid may be back, some Arts Fest evening. You've been warned.