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Hip To Be Square: Columbus-style pizza is a cut above

Mike Thomas

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In 2011, celebrity chef David Chang and food critic Peter Meehan (the personalities behind the Netflix series Ugly Delicious and season one of PBS’s Mind of a Chef) launched Lucky Peach magazine. By 2017, the New York Times best-selling culinary mag had called it quits, but not before changing the landscape of food-related publishing through countless thoughtful, in-depth features and groundbreaking artistic vision.

Before closing up shop, Lucky Peach published a series of features covering the unique regional pizza styles found throughout the US. Much to the surprise of some skeptical (and probably hangry) readers, right there in print along with Chicago’s infamous deep dish and clam-covered New Haven apizza were the words “Columbus-style pizza.”

Believe it or not, Columbus-style pizza really is a thing—and not just because the staff at Lucky Peach said so. A thin, crisp crust. Edge-to-edge toppings. Slices cut into small, poppable squares rather than triangles. Aside from a handful of notable exceptions, these are the hallmarks of pizza served by the capital city’s most essential local brands. But these characteristics alone do not make Columbus-style pizza the unique and wonderful phenomenon it is. Rather, it’s the history and tradition of the city’s iconic pizzerias that is at the heart of Columbus-style.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

Columbus-style pizza as we know it can be traced back to 1949, when brothers Jim and Dan Massucci, along with their associate Romeo Siri, began serving pizzas in their Grandview restaurant. Soon, demand for the Massucci’s hearth-baked pies was so great that they opened the area’s very first pizza shop on Main St. in Whitehall. In an Americanization of their Italian surname, the brothers named their shop Massey’s.

After changing hands a couple of times, Massey’s Pizza is today owned by a different set of brothers in Dave and Jim Pallone. While ownership of the popular local chain has changed, the Pallones maintain the same dedication to quality that first made Massey’s pizza a hit over 70 years ago. Massey’s now operates 14 locations throughout Central Ohio—and one in South Carolina.

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“We’re just like a mom and pop pizza operation,” Dave Pallone said of his business. “We do it the old-fashioned way, and we don’t shortcut things.” Part of doing things the old-fashioned way comes down to using traditional ingredients, like a proprietary blend of imported Galbani brand cheese (Italy’s No. 1 brand), or old-world Portofino pepperoni. Then there’s the way the pizza is baked—with the raw pies placed directly on the hearth of a 500 degree oven. Then, of course, there’s the cut.

Dave Pallone, co-owner of Massey’s Pizza

“Years ago, all pizza was cut like a pie. We invented this cut, ‘the Massey’s cut.’ Now everybody uses that. I think some people call it tavern cut, or party cut—but it’s actually the Massey’s cut,” Pallone said.

While Massey’s can be thought of as the godfather of Columbus-style, it’s just one of several shops with a decades-long history of serving the city’s signature pizza. By the middle of the 20th century, other iconic family-owned brands had emerged throughout Central Ohio.

In 1952, Thomas Iacono opened his first pizza shop in Columbus using recipes from his family’s native Italy. Featuring a thin, cracker-like crust, fresh ingredients, and the same square cut as Massey’s, Iacono’s brand would eventually branch into two of the city’s most celebrated local pizza chains: Tommy’s and Iocano’s Pizza—each of which continues the legacy of its founder with multiple locations throughout Central Ohio.

Like Iacono and the Massucci brothers before, Emelio’s Restaurant founders Mike and Binnie DiSabato made an early impact on the Columbus pizza scene. Opening in 1960, Emelio’s quickly became a neighborhood destination thanks to dishes like a signature salad, served to-go in styrofoam cups, with optional cooked pepperoni. But it’s Emelio’s pizza that has kept local diners hooked for decades.

“We’re really happy that we can still serve Columbus after all these years,” said Maria DiSabato, the granddaughter of Emelio’s founders and a third-generation employee of the restaurant. “Moving from one generation to the next isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely the clientele that has been so loyal to us that has made Emelio’s as great as it is.”

While gobs of cup-and-char pepperoni and the iconic square cut are essential to the Columbus style, you can honestly find similar pizzas throughout the country. More than the superficial elements they share, much of what defines Columbus-style pizza is in the relationships formed over this signature dish. Crafted with care by families in this city and enjoyed across generations, it’s the special people who make Columbus- style pizza something you won’t find anywhere else.

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Food & Drink

Rémy Martin 1738 presents: The Sidecar

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**SPONSORED**

We teamed up with Rémy Martin 1738 and local bartender, Ben Griest, from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo to bring you an icon of cognac cocktails. Ben's previous videos featured the art of margarita-mixology, and now we are moving on to another tasty cocktail. This timeless, opulent drink is well-balanced and fresh.

With National Cognac Day coming up, we figured it would be great to share, Rémy Martin 1738 presents The Sidecar.

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Food & Drink

National Brisket Day is Today!

Julian Foglietti

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Photo by Brian Kaiser

With meat shortages starting to take their toll and National Brisket Day here at last - we've gathered a roundup of some spots you can go to to get your brisket fix.

Legacy Smoke House

With their main location in Hilliard and a food truck moving throughout the city, Legacy Smoke House is a solid choice for brisket on National Brisket Day, just be sure to get there while supplies last. Enjoy!

Pecan Pennys

Just off Main Street, Pecan Pennys is ready to fulfill your brisket needs. If your looking to feed a family though be sure to get your orders in advance as they're requesting 24 hours notice on dinner bundles.

Ray-Ray's Hog Pit

With locations in Franklinton, Westerville, Clintonville and Powell Ray Ray's Hog Pit is open for business with brisket stocked at all locations. #NationalBrisketDay is the best day!

Hoggy’s Restaurant and Catering

Located on Bethel Road, Hoggy’s will be stocking brisket for both dine-in or carryout. Feel free to stop in or stop by!

The Pit

With a new location opened up on Parsons Ave. The Pit BBQ will be offering brisket for the National day. Celebrate with some tasty brisket!

City Barbeque

City Barbeque will be offering brisket for the National day! So get excited and get ready for some yummy BBQ brisket!

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{UPDATED} Indoor Dining: what’s NOT opening?

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Los Gauchos

PINS Mechanical Co.

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Hey Pinheads. We're so excited to hear that our world is beginning to reopen! Many of you have reached out asking about our opening plans so we wanted to provide a brief update on Pins Mechanical Co. While we fully trust and support the decisions of our local leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our team members and guests, while not sacrificing the experience that makes Pins, Pins! With that in mind, none of our locations will be opening in May. There are many unknowns with COVID-19 and we hope that taking this extra time will help our guests and teammates feel better about the measures we’ve put in place to keep all of us safe. For example, on top of our already stringent cleaning procedures, we’re installing UV technology at all locations (ensuring you always have clean balls to play with). We’re looking forward to welcoming back our kick-ass team to train and adjust to this new normal. Once our people feel comfortable + confident, we’ll know it’s time to get rollin’ again! Thank you for your incredible support, online sales, photo shares + kind words over the last two months. Even when you couldn’t show up, you showed up and we’ll never forget it! We’re hopeful that everyone will be safe and smart as we begin to reopen the doors to the small businesses that make our communities so special. See you soon, Pinheads!

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Old North Arcade

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Dear friends, . As you are most likely aware, Governor DeWine has permitted the reopening of bars and restaurants for dine-in seating effective 5/21. We are very grateful that our leadership is now offering businesses the choice to do what they think is right. We offer no judgment for the bars and restaurants that are/have chosen to open. However, for our particular business, and for our staff, we still think it's too early. We are going to remain closed this week and next but do hope to open soon. Your understanding and patience is greatly appreciated and we cannot wait to see you all. It is important to us that we apply an extra layer of safety and precaution on top of the govermental recommendations. Tentatively, we are looking at the end of May to reopen in a very limited capacity but we're following local and national developments very closesly so will be quick to bail if things turn south. Your continued support has been quite humbling. Thank you. Stay healthy, support local, and be more than kind to one another. . Cautiously optimistic, . ONA Staff

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Watershed Kitchen + Bar

101 Beer kitchen

They are delaying opening dine-in service until May 26th.

Matt the Miller's Tavern

Stay tuned on social for patio and dine-in updates!

J. Gumbo's

J. Gumbo's will continue to stay open for online ordering for pick up and delivery - stay tuned for dine-in updates.

Mouton on High

The Whitney House

The Whitney House will be opening Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 11 am.

The Guild House

Stay tuned for opening dates!

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Stay safe everyone 💕

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Smoked On High

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

The Woodbury

The Woodbury will be opening its doors for dine-in service on June 1 2020.

Roosters

Roosters are not opening dine-in until May 26th 2020.

The Eagle

The Eagle is temporarily closed - stay tuned on social for updates!

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In light of the government mandated closure of dine-in business for an indeterminable period of time, we’ve made the incredibly hard decision to temporarily close The Eagle Columbus. . Given the truly unprecedented and quickly evolving nature of this health crisis, we’ve been forced to make the best decisions we can, with the information we have. As the true scale of this crisis has been revealed, it’s become impossible to deny the impact this mandate will have on our business and team members. This decision was made as all of our decisions have been: with the health, happiness, well being and best interests of our guests and team members in mind. . The state of Thunderdome Restaurant Group is strong and we look forward to seeing and serving you all on the other side of this. Truth, courage, and be well.

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Lavash Cafe

Tiger + Lily

Tiger + Lily is sticking to carry out for the time being. Follow them on social for updates for dine-in!

Yats Grandview

Red Lobster

Red Lobster is continuing to stick to curbside pickup, delivery, or touchless pick-up.

Harvest Pizza

Bareburger Columbus

Bareburger is opening for dine-in on May 26th, 2020.

Mezze

City Barbeque

Local Cantina - Creekside, Grandview, Dublin, Westerville, Hilliard Locations

Creekside Local Cantina is delaying opening indoor dining until May 26, 2020.

OH Pizza and Brew

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