Balboa's - new location in O'Bryonville

Pop Quiz: Name the establishment in this building on Madison in O'Bryonville?

Answer: Balboa's!

Yeah - don't feel bad if you didn't know - it's been about a dozen things in the past few years!

Inside it's clean and kinda funky - cool layout, big bar, spacious seating, etc... It's a nice place on the inside. But decorating doesn't make good food.

These are the pepperoni rolls. Verdict? Too much bread, bitter pizza sauce, not enough pepperoni & cheese. Not bad but not as good as Betta's.

My friend is EXTREMELY picky - she got the burger, plain, well done. Unfortunately she didn't like it...the meat had seasoning - lots of garlic/onion. I had a bite - it's definitely a homemade burger but did have an after taste. Fries were fine.

By recommendation of the server (who was very good) I got the philly cheesesteak. Little odd that I was asked what I wanted on it - well I'd like what normally goes on a philly cheesesteak. I got cheeze whiz (cuz that's what comes on them), mushrooms, onion and black olives. And then I got onion rings instead of fries for an extra $1.

I have to say - I was pretty disappointed. The bread was good...shipped in from Philadelphia which is impressive. The sandwich though - I mean - it's a philly CHEESE steak. I want cheese! I couldn't even taste the cheeze whiz! Also - the sandwich and the onion rings sort of had a bitter after taste that wasn't good. I think something on the sandwich was burned and the onion rings tasted as though the oil was old.

I would take a Penn Station over this any day of the week...

The other thing to note is that my friend ate one bite of her burger and then ate her fries. She doesn't like seasoning and didn't like it. The server said she was going to comp the burger or 1/2 the meal or something. The manager came over - apologized - thanked her for being so easy going about it. Then - bill comes - charged full price. That's just lame...He also semi-insulted me. I won't repeat it and I know it was a joke but it was rude.

That said - I don't think I'll be back - maybe for pizza...but Dewey's is just down the street so it's doubtful.

Balboa's Philly Steak & Pizza on Urbanspoon


  1. i ate at the balboa's downtown and felt the same way. not enough meat or cheese and everything had a weird aftertaste. penn station is way better.

  2. Interesting

    You rip and/or make fun of other diners all the time in your "reviews" -- for example -- and then when you are the brunt of similarly nasty personal comment, you're so hurt by it that you feel the need to mention it in your "review".

    I say this in the hope that you will limit the remarks about people and confine yourself to the eatery. Yeah, I know, this is your blog and you can say any damn thing you want. I get that. But let me you hope to be taken seriously and/or to gain some credibility?

    But back to the topic - yeah, Balboa's sucks, despite the authentic Amoroso rolls, and ESPECIALLY that awful hamburger of theirs.

  3. I make funny comments - it's what I do - I also do stand up comedy on the side.

    In regards to this comment - it was something rude the manager said to my face.

    People can talk behind my back all they want - but for the establishment to be rude to my face - damn!

    It was meant as a joke but it was a bit much - even for me - and dude - I'm hard to offend.

    My reviews are about the place as a whole - not just the food - it's the location, the service, the experience.

    And yeah - it's my blog so I can say anything I want.


    But thanks for reading - I do appreciate all the comments. It's all for fun and the food was funky.

  4. The Balboa's downtown sucks too, so at least you didn't miss anything, and somehow the one downtown does attract the sharpest crayons in the pack either.

    TJ, come'on man, you think you're gonna walk into a place wearin that shirt and people aren't going to make fun of you?
    Hang it up and wear solids. You'll be doing yourself and downtown a huge favor.

  5. OOPS, that should be "doesn't attract the sharpest crayons in the pack either"

  6. Since we're talking 'sharpest crayon in the pack' here - is this a good place to mention that there are TWO Balboa's downtown, not just 'the one'?

    In any case, no, sorry - I own no such shirt and have not been in Palomino's for over a year. Your comment here is just as baseless and unwarranted as your "I've never been there but know it sucks anyway" comment regarding Tan Thai, made elsewhere.

    But whatever. You two can say any damn thing you want, true or not - your blogs, your words. I get it.

  7. I gotta say this review kinda made me cringe. One of the issues I have with almost every food blog in Cincinnati is the way the staff in restaurants are critiqued. If the manager really insulted you and it is relevant to the review, you should give the entire story. Otherwise it just comes across to me as "how dare the hired help." I guess I'm just saying if someone set up the story and leaves out the climax, the reader is left wondering what really happened. As for the food, it looks scary and I think Philly cheesesteaks are gross. That location has never done well so I'm guessing the deathwatch will start now.

  8. Okay - TJ - I've never mentioned Tan Thai - so no idea what you're talking about there.

    Amy - Here goes - full disclosure.

    My friend had the hamburger she didn't like. She said she was going to take it home for her dog. The manager then pointed to me and said "I hope she's not your dog."

    I didn't feel like putting myself out there for my friends to mock me (jokingly and with love of course) that I'd been called a dog.

    As I said - it was a joke - but still a bit rude.

    I'll comment on service typically if they're slow, don't clean plates or just plain do dumb things. This was a different case - hope that helps explain it.

    Maybe I was a little too sensitive.

  9. OH wait - i did mention Tan Thai! I forgot - truly sorry.

    I based my thought on Liz's review - I really trust her and she was a continued patron over the years...

    My apologies on that - I don't remember everything I've written...

  10. Personally I am very interested in the interaction of staff, personally and impersonally.

    You are not just paying for the food that is set in front of you but for the entire experience.

    A good waitress, a rude manager, noticing a cook didn't wash his hands coming out of the bathroom are all relevant to a review.

  11. The 2:51 comment (except for the last 3 sentences) addressed Schwartz and his comment(s), not Heather's.

  12. Haha this is great, I had a solid time at this establishment and thought the pizza was good.

    To those locals who live close, it's definitely worth a try IMO.

  13. Never ate there but traditional philly cheesesteaks are made with cheese whiz(did you do any research on that or just to lazy) as usual your commments and reviews are as poor as your taste in restaurants

  14. She sad right in the review that Philly Cheese steaks are supposed come with cheese whiz, which is why she asked for it to be made that way...

  15. Alright. So, in reference to this blog, review and patron- I'd like to first say that I am the waitress who waited on you. A few months back, my owner found your review and printed it out for the staff to read over, along with a few others to show us honest feedback on how our first few weeks and months were being perceived. Yes, if you are at all skeptical- I can assure you I am the one who took care of you. I recall(ed) your entire order, your "picky" friend and most of all- your friend's shirt (which I commented on at the time): something about 25 cent mustache rides. In the meantime, I have since been promoted to General Manager and keep coming back to how appalled I was by YOUR review. So, to make a long story short- I've since decided that if you can manage and can find it in yourself- I'd like to invite you (and your friend) back for a redemption meal as well as a chance to actually give our newly fine-tuned establishment a second chance. And, maybe to keep in mind that not everything will be perfect but the intent and personable staff I have will go above and beyond no matter what. I doubt you get this type of offer often, especially after you give such an admirable review..... But I truly care about the image of my restaurant and would welcome the opportunity to change your mind at any cost. Please let me know. Shoot me an e-mail so that we can set up a day for you to join us!!

  16. Megan - thank you very much - I definitely will email you and take you up on the offer to come back.

    You did a great job as our server that night. And that's what I say repeatedly to people when discussing restaurants:

    You can't control what people think of the food. You can't control their taste buds. BUT you can control service - it's the only thing you have 100% control over.

    You were great. Your manager at the time - not so much.

    I'll shoot you an email and look forward to giving Balboa's another try.


  17. These comments are so interesting to me, because I've eaten there 3x and we've had really good experiences! (obviously, or we woudln't go back.) BUT, we get pizza ever time, and nothing else. My bf is a very picky New York pizza eater, and he loves it. I think it's great too (Dewey's has WAY too much garlic for me -- yuck.) Hopefully their new manager is better..maybe that's the reason we haven't had any issues.

  18. Just a follow up - I did email Megan back a month or so later about taking her up on a revisit and never heard back. Maybe she's not there anymore but I never went back.

    Maybe I'll try the pizza if I go back.

  19. I agree with Christa, I've been to Balboas (on Madison) a couple of times now. We've only ever had their pizza, but I really like it! I'm a huge fan of Deweys, but I think Balboa's pizza is pretty good too! It's definitely worth a try! Plus, you can always walk around the corner to BonBonerie for an after dinner treat, which I love!

  20. Jeff from MiddletuckyNovember 10, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    TJ Jackson, acting trollish in an online discussion about food?

    What a, um, surprise.