Columbus pizza? Altoona-style pie? And what the heck is Brier Hill? We dish out the details of pizza styles in Ohio and surrounding states.
If there’s anything I know about Midwesterners, it’s that we love our pizza. Whether it’s a weekend party, an office lunch, or even a casual night of takeout, we’ll take any excuse to order a pizza. In addition to your basic, chain-restaurant pizza, tons of regional styles exist in Ohio and surrounding states, including some that may be totally new to you. Some you may have to travel to, but many of them are available right here in Columbus (the pizzerias listed operate in Columbus location(s) unless otherwise noted)
As an Ohio native, I didn’t even know I had grown up on Columbus-style—I thought it was just good pizza! Known for its thin crust, rectangle slices, and loads of toppings, Columbus pizza serves a uniquely Midwestern flavor. Unlike the thin crust of New York, Columbus’ is almost flaky, with a crispy texture that sometimes bubbles. Although the crust is almost impossibly thin, it’s surprisingly strong, and able to hold mounds of pepperoni or sausage, which are two common go-tos around here. On a Cbus-style pizza, there are so many toppings you barely see the cheese. But don’t worry – your taste buds will definitely know it’s there.
- Tommy’s Pizza
- Terita’s Pizza
- Donatos Pizza
- Plaza Pizza
- Massey’s Pizza
Youngstown prides itself on their unique Brier Hill pizza. It uses a bready dough with a little bit of crunch. The toppings include a thick and savory tomato sauce, hot bell peppers, and a sprinkle of Romano cheese rather than the usual mozzarella. A classic, meatless pie in Youngstown, many churches sell these pizzas as fundraisers during Lent. Luckily, you don’t have to travel three hours up north, as a few nearby places offer them as well.
- Missing Jimmy’s (8-inch)/Meatball Mafia (12-inch)
- Borgata Pizza Café (by request)
- Olde Town Tavern
- Wedgewood Pizza (Youngstown)
Created in Steubenville by WWII veteran Primo DiCarlo trying to recreate Italian cuisine, Ohio Valley pizza features a thick square crust topped with sweet tomato sauce and cold, uncooked toppings. The pizza is often twice: first with some sauce to help the crust begin to rise, then next with more sauce and a small layer of cheese. When it’s done, more cheese and cold toppings are layered on top before the pizza is cut into serving-sized squares.
- DiCarlo’s Pizza
- Ray’s Pizza (Wintersville, Ohio)
- Iggy’s Pizza (Toronto, Ohio)
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We all know about Chicago deep-dish: the famously delicious pie-like pizza with cheese on the bottom and sauce on top. Its thick and high crust edges provide ample space to fill with loads of cheese, heaps of toppings, and chunky tomato sauce (in that order). Baked in a pan, this pizza’s crust comes out slightly fried due to the oil—yum! Just as popular, Chicago stuffed pizza is made the exact same way but with an additional layer of crust on top of the cheese. You can buy deep-dish in many Columbus restaurants, including:
- Romeo’s Pizza
- Yellow Brick Pizza
- Meister’s Bar
This lesser known Chicago style is similar to Columbus’ own, although it differs slightly in terms of ingredients and likely predates its Columbus counterpart according to Columbus pizza historian Jim Ellison. Hailing from Chicago’s South Side, it involves cracker-thin crust cut into small square slices. It evolved in—you guessed it—taverns as a snack to accompany beer and spirits. The dough is rolled rather than tossed, leading to its thinness. According to GrubHub data, this style actually outsells the more famous deep-dish among local Chicagoans. Unfortunately, to get this authentic Chicago tavern style, you’ll have to travel all the way to the Windy City to grab a slice.
- Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria (Chicago)
- Barnaby’s (Chicago)
- Candelite Chicago (Chicago)
- Dino’s Italian Pizza (Chicago)
- Pat’s Pizzeria (Chicago)
Another deep-dish pizza, Detroit pizza uses its extra space for fluffy, chewy dough rather than sauce. To even be considered Detroit-style, the pizza should be at least 1.5 inches thick. This rectangular pizza is topped with mozzarella or Wisconsin brick cheese which caramelizes against the pan, giving the crust edges a crispy, cheesy finish.
- Buddy’s Pizza (Detroit)
- Loui’s Pizza (Detroit)
- Square Slice Pizzeria
- Pie of the Tiger*
Altoona pizza is recognized by the controversial slices of American cheese that top it. The crust is thick and doughy, characteristic of a Sicilian-style pizza dough like that of the Detroit-style. It’s traditionally topped with sauce, green bell peppers, salami, and then American cheese. It almost looks like an open-faced grilled cheese with the melted, yellow cheese slices topping it. If you’re game to try this culinary creation, you’ll have to schedule a road trip to Pennsylvania.
- 29th Street Pizza (Altoona)
- Zach’s Sports Bar (Altoona)
*Pie of the Tiger owner Faith Pierce considers their pies to be a blend of several pizza styles, including Detroit and Sicilian.
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