Cafe Napolitana to sling pizzas with new address and updated name, Aracri Pizzeria on Gay

Gary Seman Jr.
The Columbus Dispatch
After 30 years on North High Street, Cafe Napolitana is moving to Gay Street and has changed its name to Aracri Pizzeria on Gay. Co-owner Dominic Aracri makes a pizza.

Cafe Napolitana will keep the Downtown tradition alive after nearly 30 years but in a different location and under a new name.

Founder Palmo Aracri will move the East Coast-style pizzeria from 40 N. High St. to a new location right around the corner at 51 E. Gay St., where it will be known as Aracri Pizzeria on Gay.

It is expected to open around Thanksgiving and the current store will close a day before the new one opens.

"This is home right here," said Aracri's son, Dominic. "It's going to be a little bittersweet moving locations."

Cafe Napolitana co-owner Dominic Aracri tosses pizza dough.

"But it's exciting," added his sister, Sophia, who works at the restaurant with her brother.

Cafe Napolitana spent its first 10 years at 20 N. High St.

The new digs will have an updated, modern look and a menu to match, with more pasta choices, starters, salads, desserts and specialty pizzas, plus an array of new toppings.

"We're keeping everything pretty much the same," Palmo Aracri said. "One of the biggest reasons for moving is downsizing and trying to simplify. The restaurant and the bar where we are now is just a big space."

Pizzas will continue to be built on hand-tossed dough using a house-mixed tomato sauce.

Slices, cut from an 18-inch pie, still will be available for lunch — $4 for cheese and $4.25 for pepperoni. Otherwise, pizzas come in 10, 12 and 16 inches.

The pizza recipe won't change, but after 30 years, Cafe Napolitana is moving to Gay Street and changed the name to Aracri Pizzeria on Gay Street.

The rosa sauce, a blend of house-made marinara, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese, will return to the menu as an option for several dishes.

It's been a turbulent two years for Downtown businesses and residents, with office vacancies spiking amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of foot traffic and damage to buildings during the civil rights protests of 2020, though Cafe Napolitana was not among them.

"There were a handful of obstacles that we've had," Dominic Aracri said, "but we didn't lose sight of our goal."

In Columbus, as with most cities across the country, pizza is an obsession with local denizens, who managed to habituate Cafe Napolitana, a place with no designated parking or delivery.

Naturally, the owners turned to third-party delivery services, which take a slice of the profits but also opened up Cafe Napolitana to a wider audience, Dominic Aracri said.

"It kind of covers different areas," Sophia Aracri said.

Palmo Aracri and his wife, Deanna, opened the restaurant in 1992, and have four children, Brooke and Gabrielle the eldest, respectively.

An Aracri Pizzeria has since opened in South Campus Gateway as well.

All siblings worked at the restaurant growing up, but only Dominic and Sophia remain in the business.

"It's something they grew up with," their father said. "Sophia and Dominic love the business, Hopefully they can take over both places in the future if they want. They don't have to."

Hours at the new location are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays. For more information, call 614-224-3013.