Some people have a sweet tooth, others crave coffee. I have an affinity for pepperoni pizza. Any kind — deep dish, hand-tossed, pan — it doesn’t matter, as long as it possesses three main criteria:
- Not too saucy
- A generous layer of cheese
- Doesn’t skimp on the pepperoni.
While some pizza chains offer decent interpretations, they miss out on capturing the true essence of what really goes into making a great pizza. After countless empty pizza boxes and a lot of years tasting pizza around the state, the following are my favorites in Ohio.
Belleria Pizza and Italian Restaurant
While in Youngstown, whether visiting family or just passing through, I make sure to stop by Belleria Pizza and Italian Restaurant. There are 11 locations throughout Ohio, with many in Northeast Ohio near Youngstown. The sheet pizza can feed a small army; and the menu offers a wide array of other dishes including pasta and sandwiches. The menu varies at each location, so check out the website where you can click on the locations and peruse each menu. For example, at one of the two Columbus locations, you can order a potato skin pizza and elephant ears and at the other, a broccoli and cauliflower pizza and tiramisu, but not vice versa.
A landmark in a predominately African-American neighborhood in East Cleveland, Angela-Mia Pizza offers carryout (they don’t deliver). But it’s worth the drive to sink my teeth into the buttery crust. Each pie is piled with cheese and toppings that cover every inch. The menu also offers wings, rigatoni and sandwiches, but it’s the pizza that has created decades of loyal customers. Angela-Mia is usually the first restaurant named by Clevelanders when asked, “where can I find some good pizza?”
When I was a student at The Ohio State University, I looked forward to the weekends when I could treat myself to a campus staple, Adriatico’s. Located in the heart of campus, this pizza place offers a classic New York style with big slices of zesty pepperoni and a thick, chewy, square crust. Students, professors and locals make this their headquarters to enjoy a slice of pizza, a beer and watch a Buckeyes game.
Guido’s Pizza Haven
Finally, my all time favorite pizza place is Guido’s Pizza Haven in Chester Township in Geauga County. Guido’s has been family-owned and operated for more than five decades. While the menu offers an array of delicious Italian options including lasagna, eggplant Parmesan and spaghetti, the pizza is incomparable. Customers include local residents and people like me, who travel some distance to wait patiently for a seat in their limited-seating dining room (although often times I will just get it to go), eagerly anticipating the opportunity to enjoy the rectangular pizza with crispy cheese that melts over the crust. The pepperoni is visibly undetectable, until you take a bite and realize that hidden under the surface is a treasure trove of meat. The homemade sauce has a bit of a kick, but isn’t overwhelming. The name should really be Guido’s Pizza Heaven.
I have a long way to go before I’ve experienced all the great pizza places throughout Ohio.
*Written by Terri Ford