Behind the Menu: Casual mood, reliably tasty food set the tone at Minelli's Pizza

Gary Seman Jr.
The Columbus Dispatch
Pepperoni pizza at Minelli's Pizza

Minelli’s Pizza is a family-owned restaurant on the West Side known for its casual atmosphere and consistent food quality.

The restaurant was founded by Bob Ferrelli and Bob Minshall in 1967 on Sullivant Avenue, a location that survived until a few years ago and was sold and renamed Bella’s Pizza.

Meanwhile, Ferrelli’s son, Jeff, opened his own Minelli’s in 1992 as a tiny carryout on North Wilson Road.

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“In the little room, I could be on the phone taking orders, ringing the register and putting things in the oven all at the same time,” said Ferrelli, who played football as a defensive back for Ohio State University from 1973 to '76 under legendary coach Woody Hayes.

He expanded his store by 1,600 square feet to include a dining room and a bigger kitchen, but not big enough to put in an industrial mixer, so Ferrelli mixes his dough daily at Bella’s and takes it over to Minelli’s.

“It’s the kind of place where you have the same people sitting in the same booth at the same time every day,” he said.

Thin-crust pizza gets top billing

Pizza, naturally, is a huge draw at the restaurant.

The thin crust has a handle on the outer edges. Residual cornmeal, placed on the bottom of the dough to keep it from sticking to the deck oven, attaches itself to the crust, offering a nice, rugged texture.

Antipasto salad at Minelli's Pizza

The sauce, mixed in-house, is a balanced mix of herbs and spices, Ferrelli said.

A variety of pies offered

The most popular pie is the pepperoni ($5.49 for 8 inches, $13.74 for 12 inches, $15.99 for 14 inches and $18.24 for 18 inches).

“We use Ezzo pepperoni,” Farrelli said, referring to the meat made by locally based Ezzo Sausage Co. “It’s expensive but it’s the best.”

Aside from the build-your-own options, Minelli’s also offers signature pies, also offered in 8, 12, 14 and 16 inches.

The most popular is the chicken, bacon and blue cheese ($7.99, $17.99, $19.99 and $21.99), which gets a topping of mozzarella-provolone blend.

Ferrelli said the assertiveness of the blue cheese is counterbalanced by the chicken and bacon.

“You’ve got to watch you don’t put too much on it but it’s good,” he said.

Salads have unique twists, too

Somewhere along the line, someone ordered fried pepperoni on a typical garden salad ($7.99) — a collection of lettuce, cheese, banana peppers and tomato and Italian dressing.

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“Some people order it just to have it on the table, just to eat it like potato chips,” he said.

Another salad choice is the antipasto ($10.99 for a small, $12.99 for a medium and $13.99 for a large) — capicola ham, salami, a base of provolone topped with iceberg lettuce, a provolone-mozzarella blend, pepperoni, banana peppers, black olives and tomato.

“They share it,” he said of customers. “It comes in a pizza box.”

Pasta with homemade goodness

Jill Ferrelli, Jeff’s sister, makes fresh spaghetti noodles and sheet pasta for the lasagna, which comes with a salad and dinner roll.

The lasagna ($9.99) is a little different in that it doesn’t have ricotta or isn’t layered several inches high.

Homemade lasagna at Minelli's Pizza

Instead, it has a few layers of homemade marinara sauce, ground beef, cheese and pasta cooked in a baking dish and spooned out onto a plate. It’s garnished with parsley and basil.

“It’s a good enough portion to fill you up,” Ferrelli said.

The price of the burger ($4.99 with cheese or without), topped with traditional garnishes, might cause some to do a double-take.

“It’s a good burger,” Ferrelli said, noting that a side of fries is $3.49. “It’s a third-pound. That’s all there is to it. We cook it on a flattop grill and we use brioche buns.”


Minelli’s Pizza

Where: 1189 N. Wilson Road

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Contact: 614-279-3344, http://minellispizza.com/