Classic, Columbus-style pies remain the star at Ange’s Pizza in Whitehall
This beloved East Side destination has been slinging square-cut pizzas since the 1950s
When you talk about classic Columbus-style pizzas — the kind often baked in 1950s-launched shops and that feature rectangular-cut, thin crusts and provolone — you have to mention Ange’s Pizza.
I discovered there are eight Ange's Pizzas, though, and they are not all created equally. The pizzerias are grouped under two websites that aren't created equally, either.
To resolve my “is this a single chain or what?” befuddlement, I visited the Ange’s Pizza created longest ago — the vintage Whitehall shop, which opened in the 1950s.
Long story not so short: Six Ange’s Pizzas are bunched under angespizzaonline.com; the barely different angespizza.com lists two separately owned pizzerias that include the sole subject of this review: Ange’s Pizza in Whitehall.
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It’s run by John Angeletti, kin of “straight off the boat” Italian immigrant Strino Angeletti, who began a family pizza business about 70 years ago that would later splinter into separate operations. (Further exploration of this byzantine story is beyond this article; hopefully someone will write an opera about it.)
While vintage, the Whitehall Ange’s occupies a dinky and drab brown building. What I encountered inside was considerably more colorful.
Not because the interior is snazzy — it’s a humble little space with no place to dine and a waiting room-like bench. Nevertheless, a cheery impression arose from overhearing many-walks-of-life customers speak with Gordon Merritt — Ange’s manager — as he commandeered the counter and a busy pizza-slicing knife.
Among a steady stream of regulars who engaged Merritt, one called him “baby doll” while entering and then praised him for slicing her pie in that special way she likes it. A walk-up arrived soon after and a multitasking Merritt correctly guessed her order, then divided another pie, and started on her food. Minutes later, a smiling guy picking up dinner said, “I love pizza! But I will only eat it from here and two other places in town.”
Noting me jot those quotes down (from, in order: Denise, Kathy and Scottie), Merritt told me that Ange’s makes its dough and sauce daily using the original recipes.
I could taste that pride and old-school quality in Ange’s pies. My delicious pepperoni pizza starred zesty and audibly crisp, cup-and-char pepperoni glistening with oil and generously applied. With its yeasty, thin crust, semi-sweet, oregano-accented sauce and abundant oven-browned cheese, it was an edible definition of the beloved local style ($11.95; all pizza prices provided are for medium-sized pies).
Uncredited but welcome pepperoni were part of the winning team atop my aptly titled “spicy Italian” pizza ($18.20). Banana peppers and capicola brought surprising heat; clumps of garlicky good sausage added to the meaty heft.
With its blanket of attractively brown-spotted provolone and mozzarella, the cheese pizza ($10.95) did its name proud. And it afforded a fuller appreciation of Ange’s simple but classic pizza frame.
I also tried: the Italian sub ($6.95) — a fine rendition with oven-singed ample meats and a cheesy-garlic-bread-evoking bun; wings ($7.50 for six) — baked to faintly crisp only in spots, but not oily and not bad, and with a cooked-on hot sauce that wasn’t messing around; chef salad ($5.95) — a solid version of what some pizzerias call antipasto salad with peppers, onions, ham, cheese and pepperoni; stromboli ($10.95) — purists might call it a calzone; I’d call this garlic-crusted folded pizza “good-tasting and good-looking.”
Mexican pizza ($16.95) wasn’t on Ange’s menu in the 1950s. Mine was missing its advertised lettuce (arguably a blessing in disguise). But what it had — a Columbus-style crust supporting ground beef wedded to a comforting bed of melted cheeses (provolone, mozzarella, cheddar) goosed-up by jalapenos, onions and tomatoes — might well have made it a cheeseburger-riffing “American Graffiti”-era favorite.
139 S. Yearling Rd., Whitehall
Correction: The review originally stated that Ange's used house-made sausage, and that this was the only Ange's location that made its dough and sauce daily. In an email, manager Gordon Merritt said these were both miscommunications.