Would you wait two months for a pizza? Customers clamor to get on Wizard of Za's waitlist

G.A. Benton
Special to The Columbus Dispatch
Dylan Jones slices up pizzas at Wizard of Za in Clintonville.

What’s the longest you’ve ever waited for a pizza? I have that time beat likely, because I waited 60 days — that’s not a typo — to receive the pizzas I ordered from The Wizard of Za.

I’m not alone.

It isn't uncommon for The Wizard of Za to have multi-week wait times for customers assigned to a waitlist, compiled from a reservation-only online-ordering system, that stretches into the thousands. So be prepared to jump through hoops if you currently want a pie from this breakout business that quickly evolved from a social-media sensation and home-cooked-pizza purveyor into an actual (if unusual) Clintonville pizzeria with a fancy Neapolitan-style oven.

The wizard pulling the levers of this marketing-savvy company, and the scratch-cooking chef who created the wildly in-demand Sicilian-style pizzas is Spencer Saylor. He’s a 27-year-old Youngstown native who, on The Wizard of Za website, is described as cooking while he was a preschooler who “grew up in the kitchen.”

I’d add that Saylor is an affable fellow who informed me a few weeks ago that his pizzeria plans to offer handmade pastas and ice creams by sometime in July.

For now, though, Wizard’s core menu is extremely limited — four pre-designed essentially just sauce-and-cheese pizzas, save for one embellished with pepperoni. Also of note: Customers cannot order more than two pies at a time, and prices for Saylor’s eight-slice pizzas range from $20 to $25. If none of that dismays you, I’d also add that the two Wizard pizzas I recently sampled were good-looking and good-tasting.

Like every Wizard pizza, both featured yeasty focaccia-style crusts about a half-inch thick. The well-browned crusts were pillowy and bready in the middle but crunchy on their edges and somewhat crisp in the other areas where the dough came in contact with the rectangular pan it was baked in. The crusts also had appealingly nutty, sweet, spicy and salty notes from sesame seeds (on the bottom) and garnishes of chile-spiked Mike’s Hot Honey plus Romano or Parmesan sprinkles. 

The crust was additionally adorned with a lively crushed-tomato sauce, attractively browned mozzarella and locally sourced Ezzo’s “cup-and-char” pepperoni offset by cooling basil chiffonade in the pepperoni pie ($25). As anticipated, the zesty, edge-blackened pepperoni arrived glistening with heat-rendered fat, but this was otherwise a relatively grease-restrained pizza.   

Fresh-out-of-the-oven pepperoni pizza at Wizard of Za in Clintonville.

A creamier and tangier, pasta-style sauce was dolloped atop each slice of the equally delicious vodka pie ($23). Although meatless and somewhat richer and spicier, this pizza offered similar charms as the pepperoni pie.

The business emphasizes its Wizard of Oz connotations by tossing in a box of Lemonhead candy with every order (“troubles melt like lemon drops” in “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”) and offering Angie’s Rainbow Cookies ($7.50) — locally baked, irresistible cakelike confections that taste like chocolate-enhanced marzipan.

Most customers get their food to go, but the pizzeria offers limited indoor and outdoor seating from its wizard-hat-denoted section of Fusian Sushi in Clintonville. This afforded me a “two-for-one” opportunity to become reacquainted with Fusian, a trendy Ohio-based chain of Japanese-influenced Chipotle-style eateries.

I tried some signature items: a sizable, nice-tasting spicy tuna roll with a nose-tickling wasabi presence ($9.78); the pleasant chicken + rice bowl with warm meat, crunchy bits plus plenty of veggies ($9.98); and the likewise veggie-heavy tofu Thai crunch salad ($9.78), a recommended soy triple-threat (firm bean curd, edamame, soy sauce) that benefited from a savory, sweet and spicy Thai peanut dressing.

Given the healthful-minded, generally inexpensive and flavorful fare quickly prepared at this Fusian branch, it’s understandably popular. Is the mod and user-friendly operation an odd partner for its cultish Wizard roommate? Let’s just say it’s fitting that Fusian lists its rainbow roll (“crab,” tuna, salmon, cucumber, avocado, sweet soy and sesame seeds; $10.98) as an “inside-out” roll.


At a glance

Where: Wizard of Za + Fusian Clintonville

Location: 4214 N. High St., Clintonville

Contact: www.thewizardofza.comwww.fusian.com

Fusian hours: 10:40 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; Wizard of Za pizzas available by online reservation only