Meatless Monday: Chicago-style pizza at Tristano's

Anthony Dominic, Crave

Don't get me wrong; I love gourmet pizza. Light sauce, smoked cheese, imported peppers, fresh greens-I'll take it all, thank you. But every once in a while I'd much rather knife and fork my way through a big, bready pie slathered in gravy. And I recently found as much at Tristano's Pizza in Grove City.

Tristano's wasn't on my radar until I took Columbus Brew Adventures' Pitchers and Pizzas Tour last month. While the Chicago-bent spot isn't part of the itinerary, tour guide Jim Ellison counts it among his favorites in Central Ohio. He also guaranteed I would miss the house-turned-pizzeria when driving up Columbus Street, which I did-twice. (Look closely on your right for a green two-story with a wraparound porch and red and white trim.)

The menu's long with appetizers, salads, sandwiches, etc., but you only need to place one order: Sweet Lou's Chicago-Style Stuffed Pizza ($20 for a large or $13 for a small-both shareable and likely to become leftovers). If you grab a seat in the back of the dining room, you can watch owner Lou Tristano build your pie through a set of French doors separating the kitchen.

The pie comes out piping hot, dripping with mozzarella and Romano and, as advertised, a tangy marinara sauce. You can add meat and veggies at an extra cost, but I found the pizza to be just right as is. The recipe is inspired by Tristano's Italian grandmother, who taught him how to cook. He later honed the details, he says, while working in kitchens around the Windy City.

Bonus: You'll notice jazz decorations around the pizzeria's dining room. It's a nod to Tristano's heritage. His uncle was famed Chicago jazz pianist Lennie Tristano.