This week the 14850 Dining Report is in Collegetown visiting an old stand-by, The Nines. This College Avenue pizzeria and bar is in a former firehouse building serving Ithaca’s east hill — the new station number 9 was built next door — and offers the area’s finest deep-dish pizza, plus sandwiches and a few surprises, as well as a great patio for eating outside and watching the world go by.
Deep-dish pizza is the way to go here, and you can order a whole pie to share or a single slice. Note that one slice, a quarter of the square pizza, is plenty of food for most people.
Mix and match the toppings; a friend taught me that eggplant, broccoli, and meatball is a magical combo at the Nines, or leave off the meatball to keep it vegetarian. The spiced meatballs are homemade and then sliced, so they work well on a pizza — but unfortunately make for a skimpy meatball sub. As with any pizza place, it’s easy to stick to vegetarian choices.
Not everyone wants pizza every time, so for a change, try the delicious BBQ ribs or the surprisingly good roast chicken. This is no fancy restaurant, but the food is simple, well-made, and delicious, and there’s often live music or an open mic.
An appetizer we have to recommend is the corn nuggets, deep-fried morsels of creamy battered corn that were added to the menu here after the Chariot closed in 2005. We order these as soon as we walk in the door, and make a game of counting how many come in each basket and recording the trends.
For something a little healthier than the corn nuggets, try the chicken chili, or the generous spinach salad, piled high with hard-boiled egg and crumbled bacon.
There’s a full bar, with plenty of decent liquor for mixed drinks and basic cocktails, and the beer selection is a good one. It includes a couple of seasonal items from area breweries like Ithaca Beer, and always-on winners like Guinness and Lake Placid’s excellent Ubu Ale.
The Nines has a reputation for being slow, and it’s true that if they’re busy, a pizza can take a while. We try to call ahead to order our pizzas, or get an appetizer order in quickly. You can also ask your server what will come out fast, such as soup or chili or a salad or sandwich — anything that doesn’t have to wait its turn for the limited oven space.
Find the Nines at 311 College Ave next to the fire station, call 607-272-1888 or visit theninesithacaNY.com and tell them you heard about them here.