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DiCarlo’s Original Pizza

Big-name and small-town pizza buffs alike are avowed fans, but the DiCarlo family cherishes first-time customers above all else. Italian immigrants Michael and Caroline DiCarlo didn’t originally set out to helm a pizzeria that would thrive through the decades. In fact, pizza wasn’t even on their radar when they opened an Italian grocery store in…

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Marion’s Piazza

From its start in 1965, this dine-in dynasty has become the epitome of Dayton-style pizza while hosting a slew of celebs—we’re talking Zsa Zsa Gabor, dahling! Since 1938, Marion Glass had owned an ice cream and sandwich shop in Dayton, Ohio, but when he spotted increasing competition from burger-toting carhops, he sought the next big…

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Augie’s Pizza

Starting with one modest location, a former WWII ski paratrooper and his wife crafted a remarkable pizzeria lineage for their family over three generations. After arriving in the States as a teenager, Augie D’Amicone, raised in the mountainous Abruzzo region of Italy, was drafted for the U.S. Army as part of the 10th Mountain Division,…

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LaRosa’s

This entrepreneurial owner transformed $400 and a dream into a pizzeria empire. The year was 1954, and ex-Navy man Buddy LaRosa knew he wanted to start his own business. When he started selling his Aunt Dina’s pizza at church festivals and received an overwhelming response, he put his $400 savings (convincing a few partners to…

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Pizzi Café

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,…

Ken Petti, with his wife, Almeda, introduced Master Pizza in 1955.

Master Pizza

After nearly 60 years in business, this Cleveland-area pizzeria keeps up with the times through aggressive marketing and social media strategies. Not long after opening Master Pizza (masterpizza.com) in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, in 1955, founder Ken Petti was primed for impressive growth. By 1960, he took on four partners to start franchising—the first business to…

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Donatos

From the start, Donatos founder Jim Grote used precise measurements to ensure consistency and turned the “pizza fad” into a 154-location powerhouse. In 1963, Jim Grote’s dad famously warned him, “This whole pizza thing is just a fad.” But with $1,300 borrowed from his father and future father-in-law, Grote opened his first Donatos (donatos.com) pizzeria…