As a kid in the 90’s, my brother and I would sometimes spend Summers with our dad who at the time lived on Waverly Court off of Frankfort Avenue near the border of the Crescent Hill/Clifton neighborhoods. Back then, the area was nothing like what it has become today as now there are a plethora of amazing dining and drinking options for miles up and down the road.
A place we’d frequent as a small family was Clifton’s Pizza, homey spot with eclectic clock-themed decor that resides at 2230 Frankfort Avenue. This establishment has been open for over 25 years, making it a legitimate Louisville staple in our ever-blossoming restaurant community. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten full of beer and pizza at this joint, and I can’t remember a single time where my experience wasn’t awesome.
Their pizza was (and remains) one of my personal top choices in town, but as I’ve grown older I’ve drifted away from their namesake menu option and have repeatedly made my way back to something not entirely different, but certainly a separate eating experience.
I’m of course talking about Clifton’s Pizza’s massive calzone, one of Louisville’s most underrated menu items in my opinion. Before I get too deep into my feelings for this monstrosity, check out a picture I took before I dug my fork and knife into it:
There are plenty of calzone options in Louisville, but for my money, Clifton’s Pizza’s rendition has remained the undisputed heavy weight champion. It’s tough to put into words why this particular calzone is so noteworthy, I mean at its core it’s really a simple concept: you get your choice of six pizza toppings and mozzarella cheese baked inside what I’m assuming is the same delicious dough they use for their pizzas.
But I’m convinced that something magical is happening in that pizza oven; perhaps they’ve got Gandalf working in their kitchen putting delicious food spells on each order. Or maybe they’re just really good at what they do. Let’s just say both are true.
I’ve ordered this calzone dozens of times, so I’m well-versed on exactly how I like it. For my six pizza toppings I chose pepperonis, ham, sausage, red onions, jalapenos, and then more jalapenos. Yes, that’s a double order of jalapenos because jalapenos rule. It usually takes about 25-30 minutes after ordering to be served (gotta let it bake, baby) so sit back, relax, and order a beer (this time I decided on a refreshing Sam Adams) and enjoy the warm, if not kinda weird atmosphere (lots and lots of pop culture-themed clocks).
As usual, my calzone was huge (covered up at least 80% of the plate) and served with a side of Ruffles potato chips. It was hot and ready to go with cheese and tomato sauce erupting out of the top like Mount St. Helens. I cut it in half thinking that I’d only eat half of it, but my appetite got the best of me as I fearlessly crushed the entire thing in less than ten minutes. I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of, but considering how fucking big this thing is, staring at an empty plate afterward is certainly rewarding.
Maybe you’ve had this calzone before, maybe you haven’t. Perhaps you need a refresher on how good this entree is, or maybe you need to be formally introduced. Either way, now is as good a time as ever for you and a few friends to visit Clifton’s Pizza and experience a true Louisville original.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Phillip Olympia is absolutely, positively not a food critic. Having said that, he really, really loves food, and he really appreciates Louisville’s effervescent independent restaurant scene which is why we have decided to embark on a weekly series of posts documenting a singular item from a particular menu from one of many local spots. We’re calling this series “Food For Fun” because, well, I don’t know. It’s a dumb name, but you’ll get over it.