Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza (Facebook / @Natalies_Coal / Instagram: nataliescoalfired)
5601 N. High St. (map it!)
Worthington, OH 43085
Open Tues-Thurs, 5-11p; Fri & Sat, 4p-12a; Sun, 11a-3p & 4-11p (brunch served Sun, 11a-3p)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
We’ve been fans of Natalie’s since it opened a couple years ago. There was a lot of hubbub about Natalie’s being the first (and as far as I know only) Columbus pizza place with a coal-fired oven. “Coal-fired” might connote smokestacks belching thick, black smoke, but this type of oven uses anthracite coal, a smokeless and hot-burning type of coal. It brings the ovens up to around 1200 degrees so they can cook pizzas quickly with a thin, charred crust.
In addition to the coal-fired fame, Natalie’s serves as a hopping live music venue. The two components seem to co-exist well. If you’re just stopping in for pizza, the live music doesn’t dominate the space, and if you’re visiting to catch a certain band, there’s plenty of good food and drink to supplement your listening. (Bonus: I’ve heard from musician friends that Natalie’s is a great venue to work with.)
Natalie’s has been running Sunday brunch for just over a year, although we only recently started trying it out. Given our love of their pizza, it wasn’t a surprise to find a LOT to like about their brunch, too. They offer a great deal of $17 for a brunch entree, a cocktail, and cup of Luck Bros coffee with complimentary refills. The coffee is served in different-colored and -shaped mugs made by a local potter. The menu says you can purchase your mug if you like it! I really loved this detail.
Our group mixed up the cocktails, from the Bloody Mary to the bellini to the mimosa (they also serve sangria). All good, although my preference is for Bloody Marys over mimosas.
We started out with a cinnamon roll, which was rightfully a huge hit. It was giant, warm, and coated with enough maple icing to make it sweet without setting your teeth on edge.
While we waited for our food, I took a peak around the restaurant. Here’s a look at that anthracite coal at work.
Brunch has been fairly busy on our visits (although not so busy you should stay away). The kitchen crew was moving things along pretty quickly.
It’s especially fun seeing the pizzas go in and out of the oven.
Although we do what we can to avoid kids menu cliches, it’s hard to stay away from baked macaroni that’s this flavorful. The boys had to fight us for bites of this. It’s thick and creamy, with a nice bite from the four cheeses.
Pizza of course features big on the brunch menu. You can build your own (complete with options for poached or fried eggs), or choose from one of four featured types. We opted for the cajun scramble with peppers, onions, spinach, mozzarella, and herbs. I liked the pizza – it had all the signatures of the Natalie’s style – but I kinda wished we had ordered the Morning Side or Southern Comfort pizzas. Those ones feature bacon, gravy, potatoes – more of the breakfasty goodness.
One of the hits of brunch was the arancini.
Arancini are essentially fried risotto balls, filled with black beans and squash, then breaded, fried, and served with a sweet goat cheese cream sauce.
The eggs benedict was very good, too. All the right components were there: perfectly-poached eggs, very nice hollandaise, a side of sweet potato hash. The sourdough bread was a little too tough for my liking, but it’s not like it was over-cooked.
Brunch at Natalie’s hit all the right notes: a great deal for food, cocktails, and coffee; very relaxing live music; solid food all-around.