By Nick Dekker
Posted On: Oct 6, 2021
While the pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone, it can be said that there are some bright spots. In Columbus, we found a brand new craving that came together during the shutdowns in the fall of 2020: Wario's Beef & Pork.
Named for Mario's nemesis in the Nintendo games, Wario's is the brainchild of Chef Stephan Madias, who was known to many as a chef around town, most recently at The Crest Gastropub in the Clintonville neighborhood. Chef could often be seen tending his smoker in front of the pub, whipping up his own sausages and pastrami.
In the fall of 2020, Chef Madias and a business partner jumped at the chance to open a restaurant in an empty walk-up window in the Arena District, right across the street from Nationwide Arena and just down the way from Huntington Park and the forthcoming Lower.com Field. He opened in October with a small-but-mighty menu of a half dozen sandwiches plus a side of spuds. It didn't take long for word to spread over social media, as hungry diners caught wind of giant cheesesteaks and cold cut sandwiches.
What transforms Chef Madias' simple sandwich shop into one of the city's best new restaurants is the team's care and attention to their ingredients. Chef smokes or cures many of his own meats, or carefully selects them from reliable sources. They do everything from scratch, from their signature Wario's sauce to the au jus, the house cheese whiz to the giardiniera. The breads come from expert local baker Matija Breads.
Wario's sandwiches are as long as your arm, and are loaded to bursting. One sandwich can easily feed two people.
Currently the menu includes five sandwiches: the Steak (their take on a Philly cheesesteak), the Cold Cut, the Chicken Cutlet, the east coast-inspired Roasted Pork, and the Falafel. And you shouldn't miss a side of the house spuds: crispy roasted potatoes fragrant with herbs and parmesan cheese.
My recommendation for first-timers is the Steak sandwich, which loads shaved ribeye with onions and house whiz. Order it Wario's Way by adding provolone, white American cheese, and more whiz. My special hack is to add a side of the au jus for dipping the sandwich.
But there's so much to love on the menu, from the veggie-centric falafel to the crispy folded chicken cutlet, the roasted pork with broccoli rabe to the colorful and crisp cold cut loaded with giardiniera.
The team has also come up with some incredible specials, usually on Fridays or Saturdays, from pork carnitas to bodega breakfast sandwiches, meatballs to tender Moroccan lamb.
Chef Madias is clearly on to something, given the regular sell-outs at the sandwich shop. It's become a go-to for a workday lunch, a Saturday special, or for dinner before hitting one of the sports venues in the district.
Stop by Wario's Beef & Pork at 111 W. Nationwide Blvd. They're open Tues. - Sat. from 11:30AM to 7PM (or whenever they sell out). You can also follow them on Facebook and at @wariosbeefandpork on Instagram.