Comfort food means more to me now than it probably ever did.
There are some days that I just need my food to give me a big extended hug and wrap me up in its rich, deep, savory flavors.
One spot that has delivered taste, value and quality food right to my doorstep has been Gionino’s Pizzeria.
The Akron-area franchise has 50 locations throughout Ohio. Its Third Street location was opened a little over a year ago at the edge of Huffman Historic District by businessman Tony Clark, who also owns DK Effect, a bar and arcade that sits next door. It’s the first and only location in the Dayton area.
In addition to pizzas so packed and dense that you could probably do a light weightlifting routine with them, the restaurant also features other Italian dishes on the menu like lasagna ($7.95) and meatball casserole ($6.95) — if you opt for this be sure to pop on an order of garlic bread ($1.55) or the deliciously addictive Gionino Bread with garlic butter and a thick layer of cheese ($6.50 for a small, which feeds two). The portions and toppings are robust and generous.
Our region, like most, has no shortage of pizza joints, but not all of them are made equal. If you want a weighty, thick, perfectly cooked pie lavished with a liberal layer of toppings, this is the spot.
Their crispy Italiano fried chicken is also a signature dish that can accompany the pizza order or be the star of the show.
>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: The pizza isn’t the only star at Dayton’s first Gionino’s Pizzeria
Their “Everyday Family Feast Special” featuring a large 16-inch, one-item pizza, an order of eight pieces of chicken, a pint of coleslaw and their JoJo’s — potato wedges that are breaded with the same batter used on the chicken and deep fried — is a terrific deal at just $28.50, and it could easily feed six people for less than $5 per person. There are also daily deals you can capitalize on that they offer via email after signing up on their website.
Pro tip: If you order online, be sure to click on the deals tab and apply the coupon for 10 percent off all online orders. That everyday deal is now going to cost you $25.65.
The chain that started with brothers Sam and Chuck Owen in Tallmadge, Ohio differentiates itself with the food. The ingredients and flavors — especially of the pizza — are a terrific value. The nine toasted subs on the menu arrive generously piled and are all priced under $7. The sausage sub ($6.95 with peppers, onions, cheese and red sauce) and the Philly steak sub ($6.95) are standouts.
The Italiano fried chicken comes as a two-piece snack ($5.95), 4-piece dinner ($8.50) or 8-, 12-, 16- or 20-piece box with JoJo’s ($14.95, $20.95, $27.50, $32.50). JoJo’s can be added to any order for $2.25 for a single serving of six wedges or 25 wedges for $7.40.
In addition to the signature fried chicken, Gionino’s also has Buffalo wings (6 for $6.50, 12 for $12.95) and boneless wings (6 for $5.25, 12 for $9.75). Featured sauces are mild, honey mustard, Cajun dry rub, hot, spicy garlic, barbecue or spicy garlic Parmesan. A Buckeye wing sauce option has a sweet glaze with a fiery finish. They are a nice accompaniment to the pizza, which for me has always been the star of the Gionino’s show.
This pizza arrives thick and loaded up. It’s the kind of pizza that has you stuffed by the second slice. It’s the kind of pizza you can’t wait to eat leftovers of.
Gionino’s Best Pizza is the most expensive because it has so much on it. The generous combination of pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, bacon, black olives and banana peppers costs $13.25 for a 9-inch, $17.75 for a 12-inch and $24.50 for a 16-inch. A traditional deluxe pizza with pepperoni, sausage green peppers, onions and mushrooms is $10.75 for a 9-inch, $15.75 for a 12-inch and $20.35 for a 16-inch, but it’s worth the extra few dollars to splurge as the Best Pizza is not one to be missed.
The Caprese pizza is the only option that comes on a thin crispy crust with a combination of fresh mozzarella and provolone with spinach, basil, tomatoes and Parmesan ($14.25 for 12-inch, $18.35 for 16-inch).
The Mediterranean pizza with fresh spinach, Feta, provolone, roasted red peppers, black olives and white sauce; the Popeye pizza with fresh spinach, ricotta and provolone with white sauce and a garden pizza offer some tasty vegetarian options.
Gionino’s house Italian dressing and marinade is available for purchase at the store for $4.95 if you want to keep the flavors going after the food is gone.
It’s unlikely you’ll still be hungry after a meal from Gionino’s, but if you want some sweet to offset the savory, they have their own version of cinnamon bread — a “Cinnabake Dessert” for $4.95 with the option of extra icing available for an upcharge.
I believe there are different styles of pizza made for different moods and moments in life, and right now, for me, it’s the age of Gionino’s.
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