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Pizza Sauce

Pizza Sauce

Jack McLaughlin

While sauce rarely gets the same amount of love as dough or cheese and toppings, it’s the heartbeat of any pizza. The sauce is where a chef has the most room to make a pie their own and hone its flavor profile.

From sweet to white to wild, let’s get lost in the sauce while we check out just a few of Columbus’ tasty styles.


The Sweet

According to Jim Ellison, author of Columbus Pizza: A Slice of American History, a slightly sweet sauce is an integral component of traditional Columbus-style pizza. 

The sweetest example among these Columbus-style pies? That one goes to the longstanding, family-owned Plank’s Cafe & Pizzeria on Parsons Ave.

Bexley Pizza Plus is an option to explore if a thicker pie with sweet sauce is your thing.

The Savory

While many Columbus-style sauces serve up a relatively close balance between sweet and savory, if sweet just isn’t your thing, it’s likely that another regional variant is. Brier Hill Pizza is a style named for the Youngstown neighborhood where it was created, and is defined by its savory, bell pepper-forward “Sunday Sauce”.

Stop by The Old Towne Tavern or Meatball Mafia to experience decadent Brier Hill Pizza here in Columbus.

The White

Ironically, one of the pioneers of Columbus Pizza, Jimmy Massey, hated tomatoes. While he made a mean red sauce, this meant Massey ate white pizza when cooking for himself. 

And if you want to be like Jimmy, some notable Columbus white pizzas come from The Pizza House as well as Borgata Pizza Cafe, which serves up New York style pie.

Everything in between

With all this talk about style and region, guess what? There really are no rules. 

Some of the wildest, most indulgent Columbus pies come from spots like Mikey’s Late Night Slice, where red sauce is swapped for things like ranch dressing or (around Thanksgiving) even cranberry sauce.

And for some inventive sauce options with a gourmet flair, Figlio’s is calling your name, with pies that feature an olive oil base, chipotle tomato sauce, and almond pesto.


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