Now Reading
This Columbus pizza is often regarded as some of the city’s best, and it’s only available one weekend a year

This Columbus pizza is often regarded as some of the city’s best, and it’s only available one weekend a year

Jack McLaughlin

Donato’s, Tommy’s, Hounddog’s, Terita’s. When someone asks about Columbus’ top pizzas, any of these long-standing local spots often come to mind. What if I told you, though, that one of the city’s best pies–which is only available one weekend each year–doesn’t come from a restaurant at all?

Known simply as Italian Festival Pizza, one of the best-kept secrets in Columbus pizza is are sold each year at the Columbus Italian Festival. The bad news is these pies are only available that single weekend each year. The good news? Italian Festival will take place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from Oct. 6-8.

You can purchase tickets to this year’s festival here.


Since 1999, the pizzas, served as rectangular slices, have been made by festival volunteer Vince Militello, a member of Columbus’ storied Carfagna family on his mother’s side.

“That’s my baby, my recipe,” Militello, who is known in festival circles as “Pizza God,” said with a laugh.

For the past nearly 25 years, Italian Festival visitors have braved long lines to grab a slice of their own from one of two places: Directly outside John the Baptist Church, or a small, “satellite” pizza stand on Fourth Street, both within Festival grounds.

Each hefty rectangle of pizza costs $5, and this year alone, he estimates, the festival plans to sell approximately 14,000 of them.

According to Militello, the considerable thickness of and the shape and of the crust—which eschews both the small, thin squares of classic Columbus-style pizza and the floppy, triangular cut of New York slices—is rooted in his ancestry.

“I’m Sicilian, and I’m a traditionalist,” he said. “I remember 30 years ago, you couldn’t sell a thick pizza in Columbus. That’s all changed now.”

Like so many other great pizzas, Columbus’ Italian Festival pizza starts with its sauce. Now an annual tradition, the sauce is made each year at Carfagna’s the weekend before the festival. While Militello won’t give his secret sauce recipe away, it did tell 614Now it uses California tomatoes, which are less acidic than other varieties, and is rounded out with “just a tad” of sugar.

“I remember when we first started making it, at the church. We didn’t know how much sauce to make, so we would end up a few 10-gallon pots,” he recalled. “Today, we start with 250 gallons.”

Minitello said the pizzas also feature olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh basil, and the only cheese used is a sharp provolone sourced from Grande Cheese Co. in Wisconsin.

“We do things right at the Italian Festival,” he said with a laugh.


Scroll To Top