When I first walked past Harlow’s Pizza in Lakewood, me and my girlfriend assumed it was either a coffee shop or bar designed like a 50’s-era soda fountain. With its glowing pink sign and curvy architecture, Harlow’s stands in stark contrast to the rest of the buildings on Madison Ave., and does’t exactly look like a pizza joint.
But looks can be deceiving, and one day I decided to peak inside and I noticed it had a brick pizza oven in the corner. I immediately knew this was a place I needed to check out. Shortly after I tried it and I concluded it was the tastiest pizza in the CLE. A bold statement, perhaps, but I was truly blown away how delicious and unique their pizza was. LOTL reviewed Harlow’s in Episode 12.
Harlow’s was opened in late 2017, and they describe themselves as Neapolitan-style pizza. According to an article from Scene Magazine, the owners actually went to Naples to learn how to make authentic pizza from that region. The pies are 12 inches and they feature a thin, crispy crust that’s charred to perfection in a wood-fire oven that was imported from Italy. They have a simple, minimalist menu that only offers five pizza options: Marinara, Margherita, Bianca, Salami, and Leonardo (descriptions can be found here). There are no exceptions or custom pizzas, the waitress told me. No other food is offered, but they do have a small bar that sells beer, wine, liquor and some non-alcoholic beverages.
The sauce is incredible, the toppings are delicious, and the flavors are spot on, but for me it’s the crust that makes these pizzas. It’s perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and has a mouth-watering flavor. Speaking of crust, it’s fascinating to watch the pizzas made as they go from a blog of dough to a delicious pie. Each pie is placed in the oven for a small amount of time and wriggled around until it’s been crisped to the liking of the chef. It’s truly a work of art. Also, note that this pizza is not a traditional American style pizza with globs of cheese and tons of toppings. Part of what makes these pizzas so good is their lack of clutter and their simplicity.
While the food is of the highest quality, the atmosphere and vibes are up there, too. Decorated with minimalist Southwestern decor, Harlow’s interior feels warm and inviting, even on a cold, rainy day. I’m sure that beautiful brick oven helps with the warmth, too. In the summertime, the main window in front is wide open and feels like a porch. The back patio is laced with luscious green vines and lit up with trendy string lights, making it a great place to relax on a summer night.
The pizza is top-notch, the staff is great and the vibes are positive. Harlow’s is absolutely a must-visit and the summer is a great time to check it out. My personal favorite pie is the Salami (it’s a wee bit spicy). If you’re really hungry, I recommend eating a whole pie. Splitting a pie makes a great snack, too. I give Harlow’s 5 pies out of 5.
Harlow’s is located on 14319 Madison Ave. in Lakewood. They are open Tuesday — Thursday from 5-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m.-12 a.m. They are closed Sundays and Mondays.