Out on a recent date night with the wife, we decided to take a drive into downtown Grove City for an early dinner at one of the area’s best known pizza shops, Tristano’s Pizzeria. I had been to Tristano’s once before with a couple of buddies, and I knew that this would be someplace that Mrs. Grub Guy would absolutely love. It’s a little tricky to find since it’s not located along the main strip through town, but a mere couple hundred feet away and down a plain-looking side street. The large, greenish building looks more like an old house than a pizza shop, but don’t let its appearance fool you. Tristano’s is home to some of the tastiest, and most authentic Chicago-style, deep dish pizza in Columbus.
My wife looked at the shop, then looked at me and said, “Are you sure this is where you’re taking me?” Oh yeah, I’m sure. We parked along the street and entered through the door on the side of the building. They offer several outside tables on their wrap-around porch, but it was a wee bit chilly for us that evening, so we headed inside. The dining room is a small, modestly decorated space. The shop’s owner, Lou Tristano, proudly displays his family and wedding photos on the walls, and there’s a glass door in which you can see employees cutting and rolling pizza dough and making your order. When we arrived we were the only customers in the building, but that quickly changed as it got closer to dinner time. The tables filled rapidly and, honestly, it felt a little closed in at that point. If you’re claustrophobic, go during an off-hour.
Their menu is centered around pizza (duh), and Tristano’s offers several varieties. Their house specialty is the Chicago-style deep dish pizza, which is stuffed with tons of mozzarella and other toppings. They also offer a thin crust pie that you can customize to your liking. Salads, sandwiches, pastas and appetizers round out the remainder of the classic, plastic tri-fold.
They offer an impressive variety of wines and over 75 different beers, including some from local breweries. I chose the Oktoberfest lager, made by Elevator Brewing Company right here in Columbus. It was served in an ice cold glass, which was much appreciated. The brew was dark and strong, and perfectly complimented my meal.
We ordered the Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich ($5.75) to sample, on the recommendation of a couple of friends. Now, you don’t have to be from Chicago to know how to make a good Italian beef sandwich…but it sure helps. I myself have never been to the Windy City, but I’ve heard tales of the wonders of Italian beef, and I have to say that if the beef in Chicago is anywhere near as great as what Tristano’s is serving, I’m on the first bullet train, baby! From the seriously hefty roll, to the cheese, and then the heavenly beef and au jus, this sandwich had it going on. It was served with my choice of hot peppers or sweet peppers. Wow…I’m hungry just writing about it.
My wife wanted a salad, so we decided on the small Antipasto Salad ($6.20). Yes, this is a small! Crisp iceberg lettuce topped with tons of meats, shredded cheese and veggies, and served with their house Italian dressing, satisfied her long-unfulfilled salad craving. I shared a few bites, and it was all fresh and delicious. I could eat this alone as a meal!
But the best was yet to come (throwback to Sinatra…see how I did that?? :) ) The main attraction was the Chicago-Style Stuffed Pizza ($14.00) of the small, 13-inch variety. We added fresh-ground sausage as a topping, and because the sausage is raw, it was cooked on top rather than the usual way, being inside with the cheese. The sausage itself was deliciously spicy and bold, “Sweet Lou’s” marinara sauce was sweet and tasted incredibly fresh, and the Romano cheese on top was an added bonus. The two thin layers of crust were filled with an incredible amount of gooey mozzarella that pulled on and on forever.
The braided crust was soft and perfectly browned. It truly was a masterpiece. As you can imagine, we were both full after just one piece (of course, I had eaten half a sandwich and salad, too). It really was a delicious pie, and I had wished at that point I would have ordered the sandwich to-go so that I could have room for another slice. But nonetheless, Tristano’s makes for a good cold pizza breakfast, too!!
In case these photos don’t convince you of the sheer awesomeness that is Tristano’s Pizzeria, you don’t have to take my word for it. Tristano’s has been voted Grove City’s best pie for 6 years, and 1st place in People’s Choice, among other awards. They proudly display their accolades in the dining room, so stop by and see for yourself. Tristano’s also has take out and accepts reservations and call-ahead orders, so that your food will be ready when you come to eat…without the wait!
When you think of pizza in Columbus, you usually think “cracker-crust” pizza. Tristano’s challenges that way of thinking in a big way. If you’ve been looking for an alternative, check them out!
Tristano’s Pizzeria sits at 3306 Columbus St, Grove City, OH 43123 (Map). They’re open Monday – Wednesday, 3:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Thursday, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, Friday – Saturday, 11:00 am – 11:00 pm, and Sunday, 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm. For more info, feel free to check out their Facebook page.