Restaurant review: Don't let the exterior fool you: Star-quality fare awaits at Ange's Pizza
When you talk about classic Columbus-style pizzas — the kind often baked in 1950s-launched shops and that feature rectangular-cut thin crusts and provolone — you have to mention Ange’s Pizza.
I discovered there are eight Ange's Pizzas, though, and they are not created equal. The pizzerias are grouped under two websites that aren't created equal, either — only one has “online” in its domain.
To resolve my “is this a single chain or what?” befuddlement, I visited the Ange’s Pizza created longest ago — the vintage Whitehall shop, which opened in the 1950s.
Long story not so short: Six Ange’s Pizzas are bunched under the “angespizzaonline” website; the barely different “angespizza” website lists two separately owned pizzerias that include the sole subject of this review: Ange’s Pizza in Whitehall.
It’s run by John Angeletti, kin of “straight off the boat” Italian immigrant Strino Angeletti who, about 70 years ago, began a family pizza business that would later splinter into separate operations. (Further exploration of this byzantine story is beyond this article; hopefully, someone will write an opera about it.)
While vintage, the Whitehall Ange’s occupies a dinky and drab brown building. What I encountered inside was considerably more colorful.
Not because the interior is snazzy — it’s a humble little space with no place to dine and a waiting room-like bench. Nevertheless, a cheery impression arose from overhearing many-walks-of-life customers speak with Gordon Merritt — Ange’s manager — as he commandeered the counter and a busy pizza-slicing knife.
Restaurant review:Vincenzo's Convenient Elegance offers expertly prepared to-go foods
Among a steady stream of regulars who engaged Merritt, one called him “baby doll” while entering and then praised him for slicing her pie in that special way she likes it. A walk-up arrived soon after and multitasking Merritt correctly guessed her order, then divided another pie, and started on her food. Minutes later, a smiling guy picking up dinner said, “I love pizza! But I will only eat it from here and two other places in town.”
Noting me jot those quotes down (from, in order: Denise, Kathy and Scottie), Merritt told me I was in the only Ange’s that makes its dough and sauce daily using the original recipes. He said the sausage was house-made, too.
I could taste that pride and old-school quality in Ange’s pies. My delicious pepperoni pizza starred zesty and audibly crisp, cup-and-char pepperoni glistening with oil and generously applied. With its yeasty thin crust, semi-sweet, oregano-accented sauce and abundant oven-browned cheese, it was an edible definition of the beloved local style ($11.95; all pizza prices are for mediums).
Uncredited but welcome pepperoni were part of the winning team atop my aptly titled “spicy Italian” pizza ($18.20). Banana peppers and capicola brought surprising heat; clumps of garlicky good sausage added to the meaty heft.
With its blanket of attractively brown-spotted provolone and mozzarella, the cheese pizza ($10.95) did its name proud. And it afforded a fuller appreciation of Ange’s simple but classic pizza frame.
I also tried Ange’s Italian sub ($6.95) — a fine rendition with oven-singed ample meats and a cheesy-garlic-bread-evoking bun; wings ($7.50 for six) — baked to faintly crisp only in spots, but not oily and not bad, and with a cooked-on hot sauce that wasn’t messing around; chef salad ($5.95) — with peppers, onions, ham, cheese and pepperoni, it was a solid version of what some pizzerias call antipasto salad; stromboli ($10.95) — purists might call it a calzone; I’d call this garlic-crusted folded pizza “good-tasting and good-looking.”
Food review:For 7 decades, Gatto's Pizza has served delicious Italian fare
Mexican pizza ($16.95) wasn’t on Ange’s menu in the 1950s. Mine was missing its advertised lettuce (arguably a blessing in disguise). But what it had — a Columbus-style crust supporting ground beef wedded to a comforting bed of melted cheeses (provolone, mozzarella, cheddar) goosed-up by jalapenos, onions and tomatoes — might well have made it a cheeseburger-riffing “American Graffiti”-era favorite.
This story is part of the Dispatch's Mobile Newsroom initiative. Visit our reporters at the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Whitehall branch and read their work at dispatch.com/mobilenewsroom, where you also can sign up for The Mobile Newsroom newsletter.
Where: 139 S. Yearling Road, Whitehall
Contact: 614-235-0898, www.angespizza.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Price range: $5.95 to $26.70
Ambience: frequently busy little bare-bones neighborhood pizza shop with no tables but very accommodating service
Children's menu: no
Accessible: not very
Liquor license: no
Quick click: Classic Columbus-style pizzas are still the stars at this beloved vintage pizzeria.