Tradition — and three essential dishes — are the recipe for success at Emelio's

Gary Seman Jr.
The Columbus Dispatch

For Emelio’s Restaurant on the West Side, consistency has been key to the pizzeria’s success since 1960.

Founded by friends Mike DiSabato and Emelio Ricevuto, the long-standing Italian restaurant has relied on three essentials: pizza, subs and salads.

Annette DiSabato, co-owner of Emelio’s with her husband, Leo, son of the late founder, said the restaurant is all about tradition.

The thin-crust pizza is made from hand-tossed dough, the way it’s always been done. The restaurant uses smoked provolone, which is sliced on-premises. An oregano-forward pizza sauce is hand-mixed to the decades-long standard of Emelio’s.

The finished pie is cut into squares — per the custom of central Ohio.

“I would say the product, of course, is probably the best pizza in Columbus,” Annette DiSabato said. “And, honestly, I’ve tried almost all of them.”

Cheese pizzas come in 10 inches ($11), 12 ($12.50) and 14 ($15).

Additional toppings include all of the standards — pepperoni, sausage, onion and anchovies, for example.

“I usually do pepperoni, sausage and pepperoncini,” DiSabato said.

The "all the way" pizza at Emelio's Restaurant is loaded with pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, onion, green pepper and pepperoncini.

An "all the way pizza" — pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, onion, green pepper and pepperoncini - is $19.50 for 12 inches.

Subs are surprisingly affordable, using local Auddino’s Italian Bakery buns.

The super sub ($6.50) has salami, capicola, provolone, hot peppers and typical garnishes. The meatball sub ($7.50), offers hand-rolled homemade meatballs, using a little bit of binder of finely ground breadcrumbs, also from Auddino’s, and egg, plus numerous spices.

The meatball sub at Emelio's Restaurant on the West Side offers hand-rolled homemade meatballs.

Mike DiSabato, who died in 2001, was known as the consummate businessman, a superb money manager who could track every penny. He bought his partner out after a few years in business.

His family and customers knew him as funny, loyal, family-oriented and a hard worker, Annette DiSabato said.

“Honestly, I never met anybody like him,” she said. “He was a really good man. But if you did anything wrong in here, he would not hesitate to throw you out.”

Among the salads, the house special ($6.50 a pint, $8 a quart) is the hands-down favorite, a simple assemblage of lettuce, tomato, provolone and cooked pepperoni, dressed in a red-wine vinaigrette.

“People rave about the salad,” DiSabato said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Emelio's house special salad draws rave reviews.

While things remain largely the same at Emelio’s, an automobile accident caused the family to redo the interior. Someone crashed into the building in September 2020. No one was injured.

The family kept the store open, doing catering, carryout and delivery, but hired a master carpenter to rebuild the bar and booths in the 75-seat dining room.

The floor was replaced and the walls got a fresh coat of paint.

“We still kept all the pictures we had up," she said, "so we have a lot of family photos.” 

Emelio’s Restaurant

Where: 574 Georgesville Road

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, closed Sundays

Contact: 614-279-7900, http://www.emelioscatering.com/restaurant/