Sometimes you pass a Dayton gem all the time and never recognize its shine.
For me, that was the case with Hoagie’s Pizza House, a family-owned business in the mostly green-and-yellow building located at 6128 N. Dixie Drive in Harrison Twp., Montgomery County.
To say I’ve been meaning to stop into the independent eatery is an understatement. I’ve heard of the place for years, which is no wonder.
Ralph Hoagland opened Hoagie’s in 1969.
It sticks out on the corner of Gipsy Avenue and N. Dixie Drive near Dixie Twin Drive-In and the delicious Olive Mediterranean Grill.
Hoagland’s daughter, Theresa “Micki” Collins, now owns the store. She closed the Troy location about two years ago.
I’ve seen the restaurant’s iconic sign featuring a moustached chef in tails carrying a pizza and reading “How About A Pizza?” more times than I can count.
The Leadbelly Boys, Dayton Daily News’ former food crew, tried to take down an 18-inch Hoagie’s square-cut pizza back in 2004 and nearly didn’t live to tell about it.
Alas, even we mighty and steel-gutted Leadbelly Boys sometimes meet our match. Not often, mind you, but sometimes. In this case, we strode haughtily into the unassuming-looking Hoagie’s, thinking there was no pizza in town that could get the best of us. But we will admit when we’re beaten. And so we admit that the 18-inch whopper that the chuckling waitress brought to our table was more than we could handle. Thin crust but still a thick pizza, with a killer dose of cheese and a humdingin’ sauce. Carrying our leftovers with us, we left with our tails between our Leadbelly legs.
I walked into the restaurant not knowing what to expect, and was greeted by a friendly cashier who answered all my questions with ease.
The beer and candy selections are displayed on the wall behind the counter.
After placing my order -- the Famous Hoagie recommended by a friend -- I headed to the dining room and found two rooms of booths and tables.
Christmas decorations filled shelves below the main room’s TV. A Mickey and Minnie Mouse cutout was propped up against an old-school CD jukebox in the second dining room.
Besides pizza and hoagies, the restaurant offers a variety of Italian-inspired sandwiches and pasta dishes. On its menu, Hoagie’s brags about its homemade dough.
The freshness was apparent when my fully loaded hoagie came out.
The toasted white sub-style bun held an ample amount of ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone and mayo and a mess of veggies: shredded lettuce, tomato, sliced onion, chopped bell pepper, sliced banana peppers and surprising green onions.
I ordered a large sub, about 12 inches, for $10.35. Cut in four, the delicious sandwich came out in a metal basket and could have fed two people easily. I took home leftovers.
You can get a half-sized Famous Hoagie for $5.20.
Hoagie’s fans rave about its pizza and the Spider “Pizza Sandwich,” which has ham, salami, provolone, pizza sauce, banana peppers, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and green peppers on a submarine bun.
I’m looking forward to trying it, and Hoagie’s take on Dayton-style square-cut pizza, on my next visit.
Let’s see if those Leadbelly Boys had it right.