Restaurant Review: Catalfino's Pizza

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The reputation of Catalfino's pizza precedes it. For over a decade running, Catalfino's took first or second place in the Slice of Columbus competition. It scored several consecutive second places in the North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show. And Catalfino's landed in the top 10 of the American Pizza Championship.

Catalfino's business also has a storied past - in fact, it goes back to the mid-'70s. That was when the family that still owns and operates Catalfino's co-opened their first one-oven, two-table shop on the East Side of Columbus. Decades of success, change, expansions and relocations eventually brought Catalfino's to its newest spot in Pickerington a couple years ago.

This latest incarnation is a big and bright, nice but casual restaurant with a decidedly sporty attitude. There's lots of Buckeye stuff on the walls, plus tons of TVs beaming in games and races (it's the kind of place where a NASCAR dad gets decked out in full stock-car regalia). Largely full of happy families, Catalfino's also has a fully stocked bar detailed with a crazy parade of flattened beer caps.

A crazy parade of "Man vs. Food"-type munchies can adorn Catalfino's pizzas, salads, sandwiches and starters if you so desire. I so desired.

That's why I picked the funky Fagiolo Fries appetizer ($6). It was a big pile of "krinkle" cutters doused in a nice, black-peppery homemade pasta and bean soup topped with melted provolone. Yeah, it sounds odd, but really it's not far from chili cheese fries. Think of it as Italian-American poutine, if you want, but do think of it.

Also think of the Chicago Combo ($9), which the menu says is fully endorsed by The Fan's Mike Ricordati. Here, a decent Italian beef sandwich increased its girth by the addition of a spicy sausage patty. Was it an authentic Windy City dish? Not really. Did it's blend of "jus" (I would have liked more), griddled roast beef, spicy sausage and giardiniera (hot pickled veggies) prove Ricordati knew what he was talking about (at least in this case)? You betcha.

Of course Catalfino's top-notch pizzas are the stars. You can design your own, go with a traditional combo or pick one of the shop's over-the-top specialties ($8.50 to $22). If you're considering the latter, here are some uncommon things Catalfino's will toss onto their excellent, thin and crispy crusts: wing sauce, chicken and celery; BLT; spaghetti and meatballs; pulled pork.

I'm generally not a fan of barbecue on pizza, but Catalfino's Carolina pulled pork was a winner. I liked how its homemade thick, tangy and smoky barbecue sauce complemented both the good meat and - wait for it - onion rings!

Also terrific was the well-named Champion (ricotta, bacon, sausage, ham, pepperoni and much more). Catalfino's menu says this pie's won over 20 awards in competitions, and I could see - and taste! - why.

The menu also says The Fan's Scott Torgerson declared the Spicy Italian "will be his final meal if he's ever on Death Row." After demolishing that irresistible grease bomb (killer spicy marinara plus double meats and cheeses), Death Row seemed almost redundant.

To read G.A. Benton's blog visit ColumbusDiningGuide.com

Catalfino's Italian

10501 Blacklick-Eastern Rd., Pickerington

614-575-5380

Web: catalfinos.com

Cuisine: Pizza

Price: $ (up to $10 per person)

Patio: Yes

Hours: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday, 4-9:30 p.m. Sunday