The pizzeria that helped introduce round pies to Ohio also offers overnight shipping across the U.S.
Tony Pizzi, a mason by trade, ventured to America from Italy and settled in Conneaut, Ohio, where he opened a beer garden in 1934. He bricked together two old fish-drying houses and lived above the business with his wife, Mary, and two daughters. But his focus changed when he visited family in Boston and tasted round pizza, made in a galvanized pie pan traditionally used for apple pies. He took the recipe back to Ohio and renamed his place Pizzi Café (www.pizzicafe.com) in 1939.
Today, the business is owned by Patrick Griswold, who says he purchased it “on a whim” in 1995 (a second owner was in charge by this point; Tony Pizzi retired in 1969). Since taking over, he has worked diligently to share the pizzeria’s history with customers—and, of course, he hasn’t changed the menu or the recipe one bit. “Our very original pizza is made in a pie pan,” Griswold notes. “We use a peasant-style dough, the best spices—it’s a very particular recipe—and only sliced whole-milk provolone.” Loyal fans of the unique pizza have access to it 24/7, thanks to overnight shipping all over the country through the pizzeria’s website.
Griswold has kept many other aspects of the business intact, including the family-friendly atmosphere. “Our café is truly unique—unrushed service, great product and family values all play a part,” he says. “We’ve resisted changing much of the key elements Tony Pizzi built upon—for instance, we still use a simple clay pizza box. This little place has a history second to none, and my goal was and always has been to tell the story of Tony and Mary Pizzi.” —Tracy Morin