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Local Eats: DeMino's Pizza

A Brookline hole-in-the-wall with a whole lot of flavor coming from one man and a tiny storefront.

When it comes to dining out, you can rely on your old standbys or you can try something new. Give your favorites a break from time to time and try one of our recommendations. You and your appetite may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Overview: You might have lived in Brookline all your life and not know about . Located near the corner of Brookline Boulevard and Merrick Avenue, it is the epitome of what is considered a "hole in the wall:" A tiny, windowless storefront wedged between other businesses, and often forgotten in favor of larger, flashier establishments up on the main business drag of Brookline.

But appearances aren't everything. Those who have "discovered" DeMino's swear by the square cut pizza and hoagies that seem to be the dominating forces on an invisible, non-stated menu. This is takeout that is delicious and mysterious.

Environment: You know those storefronts that look so shabby, you think there's no way there could be an active business residing behind those doors? DeMino's may not be quite that bad, but it's close. There is a sign out front over the screen door entrance, advertising the name and phone number. Stepping inside is like going into someone's kitchen, sans dining area. There's a little counter for the cash register, two chairs, and that's it. The rest of the small space is dedicated to cooking. If you were hoping to dine in, you're out of luck. This is strictly a takeout pizza shop.

Satisfy your thirst:  Beverage cooler? Nope. There's two bars just up the corner, if you're looking for six packs. Otherwise, head on up the street and buy some pop at the CoGos.

Satisfy your hunger: There is no actual stated menu, so the entirety of what's available is a mystery. For friends and devotees following up on recommendations is suggested. Otherwise, play it safe. If it sounds like every pizza shop has it, chances are he'll make it for you. The dough is homemade and the ingredients are fresh, resulting in a pizza slice that is substantial without being overwhelming, with a crust that is neither too weak to uphold its toppings nor too thick to allow the full flavors of the sauce to seep in. The pizza is made by tray, so specify number of slices when ordering. The other obvious option is the meatball hoagie, and what a fantastic option it is: A thick, homemade Italian bun stuffed with homemade meatballs coated in the sweet tomato sauce and just enough cheese to bring it all together in a satisfying bite. The skill at which the sandwich is prepared is impressive. The outer edges of the bun are blackened to sharp crisp, but the inner bread dough stays chewy and soft. The proportions are exact and the meatballs taste of family recipes passed on through the decades. Brookline, the South Hills, all of Pittsburgh has little that rivals DeMino's meatball hoagie.

Dessert: Help yourself to a butterscotch disc or some M&Ms in the candy dispenser. That's about as sweet as it gets.

Service: Service with a smile is overrated. This is a one-man operation, so don't expect too many pleasantries, especially if you haven't called ahead your order. Calling ahead is recommended as both a way of cutting down wait time and cutting down the amount of irritation you might cause the shop owner.

Overall: DeMino's won't be winning any  awards for service or interior design, but what it does well it does really well. Order pizza, a meatball hoagie, or try to guess what else might be up the master chef's sleeve. Any way you choose to try it, DeMino's offers a substantial quality meal at a price that beats nearly any other shop in the area.

Check out food writer Emily Fear's food blog, Forked!

Randi July 21, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Did he go out of business?
sher September 21, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Yes, he had to go due to illness, haven't found another place around that compares to his, or the price! Sorry to say!!

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