This week we asked readers to share their choice for Dayton’s signature food. The verdict is in and thin crust, square-cut pizza came out on top.
More than half of our readers said Marion’s Piazza was their top spot to take out-of-towners for square-cut pizza. Other favorites were Cassano’s Pizza King and Joe’s Pizzeria.
In the 1930s, Marion Glass, the founder of Marion’s Pizza, organized a group of boys to take to the streets on bicycles and sell ice cream bars. Later, he sold those treats in storefronts and then after owning three Cassano’s pizza franchises, he had the idea to open a unique dining room pizza spot in 1965 called Marion’s Piazza. Today the business has restaurants in north and south Dayton, the Dayton Mall area, Centerville, Beavercreek, Kettering, Englewood, Troy and Mason.
Vic Cassano Sr., the son of Italian immigrants, and his mother-in-law, Caroline “Mom” Donisi, started Dayton’s first pizza shop in 1953. Cassano’s Pizza King opened in a 20-by-15-foot room at West Schantz Avenue and Patterson Boulevard. The pizza shop was known locally at the start as “Vic & Mom’s.” Now, with multiple locations in Dayton, there are over 30 Cassano’s Pizza King stores.
Joe’s Pizzeria, located at 4313 Airway Road, is a Dayton staple with over 60 years of experience in the area. The pizzeria took home second place in the 2021 Best of Dayton contest category of “Best Square-Cut Pizza.”
Marion’s Piazza took home first place and Cassano’s Pizza King placed third.
Other contenders for Dayton’s signature food included Bill’s Donuts, Esther Price, The Killer Brownie from Dorothy Lane Market, Mikesell’s, Stewed Tomatoes from The Pine Club and The Hamburger Wagon.
Some readers mentioned Dayton doesn’t necessarily need a signature food.
“Not every city has to be famous for a food,” Brad Carver said in the survey. “Isn’t it enough that we are famous for hundreds of patents that have collectively changed the world more than since the invention of fire? Creativity, art, and ‘flavor’ come from much more than a city’s culinary scene. Dayton had a flavor all its own that doesn’t require a single taste bud to recognize.”
In addition to those that filled out our survey, over 600 comments were made on Dayton.com’s Facebook post.