A Dayton classic: Why to visit El Greco's Pizza Villa before it’s closed for good

El Greco's cheese bread is loaded with provolone.
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El Greco's cheese bread is loaded with provolone.

Credit: Lauren Rinehart for Dayton.com

Credit: Lauren Rinehart for Dayton.com

The sun is setting on a Dayton pizza restaurant.

El Greco's Pizza Villa, 3976 Salem Ave., said it would close Dec. 22 in a Facebook message to fans on Nov. 17.

>> Legendary pizza restaurant to close for good

Located in a nearly abandoned shopping center on Salem Avenue sits this unassuming little restaurant and bar. Inside you'll find a handful of booths, strings of Christmas lights and deep red carpeting covering the walls. To an outsider, this place wouldn't necessarily make a charming first impression. But to hear the hundreds of warm memories and you-had-to-be-there stories Dayton has accumulated over the past 50 years, you'd swear El Greco's was a slice of heaven on earth.

>> PHOTOS: A look at El Greco’s Pizza Villa, a true Dayton classic

Here are some reasons you’ll want to visit this pizza restaurant in its final days:


El Greco’s heyday was in the 1960s and ‘70s when Salem Avenue was a more populous area with many more open businesses surrounding the little restaurant. Nowadays, most people make a special trip there to order their favorite hard-shelled tacos or thin crust pizza.

Speaking of tacos, El Greco's is known for their Taco Tuesdays, where customers can order a basket of tacos at $0.99 each (with the purchase of a drink or other food item). In fact, their menu is full of interesting dishes that blend Mexican and Italian flavors, such as nochos, petas, and their homemade salad dressing.

“Nochos” are taco shells broken in half, topped with melty cheese and one or two jalapenos. “Petas” are large, flat tortilla-type crusts with their signature spicy sauce, topped with melty provolone cheese plus any additional toppings you'd like before being cut into diamond shapes.

Their salad dressing is a sweet and tangy onion dressing that doesn't taste like anything you can buy at the store. Chowing down on these unique dishes brings back memories to longtime fans of El Greco’s.

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For those of us who have frequented El Greco's throughout the years, they’ve made some changes here and there: a fireplace now sits where the tabletop Ms. Pac Man game once was, some of the posters and signs have been replaced, and they recently added a patio.

At the same time, you'll still be comforted by the glow of twinkly lights, the dark ambiance of that red carpet, and the flavors that are exactly as you've remembered them since you were a kid. Ultimately this place remains a constant despite the evolution of the greater Dayton area around it. That's probably why so many people make it a point to visit when they're in town.

If you're looking for a piece of Dayton history and culture that you can still see, smell, taste, and feel right here and now, you should definitely visit El Greco's Pizza Villa before it’s too late.

Want to go?

WHAT: El Greco's Pizza Villa
WHERE: 3976 Salem Ave., Dayton
INFO: elgrecos.orgFacebook | 937-278-3344

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