1952 ad for Armando's, the first campus-area pizzeria.

College and pizza go together.

A 2014 USDA study found that one-eighth of Americans eat pizza on any given day. For young people the numbers are even higher. 26% of men and 18% of women aged 12-19 consumed pizza on a given day.

The United States has 1 pizza place for every 4,330 people. Here in the University District (plus campus), there is 1 pizza place for every 2,291 people. We like our pizza here.

In a college neighborhood, pizza is the staff of life. Pizza is cheap, tasty, filling, and customizable. It has all four of the food groups represented. It's large enough to be eaten socially. Pizza makers will deliver it to your door at all hours. Pizza is the poor college student's catering. It can be eaten without plates or utensils. It goes well with beer. Leftover slices make a frat boy's breakfast.

According to CMH Gourmand, pizza was first served in Columbus in the rough-and-tumble Flytown neighborhood where 670 is today. TAT Ristorante (which still operates in Whitehall and still serves pizza) started serving pizza back in 1929. The first exclusive pizzeria was Romeo's, 1576 W 5th Ave (at the corner of W 5th and N Star in Grandview.)

The very earliest mention of pizza in the Ohio State University newspaper The Lantern is in a May 1949 advertisement for Ann-Ton Restaurant way up in Worthington. The first campus area pizza was Armando's at 2572 N. High. An ad for it--with pizza top-billed--appeared in the February 2, 1952 issue of The Lantern. After 1952, the floodgates opened and pizza places proliferated madly in the University District.

For the past 30 years, the neighborhood's pizza cravings have been served by a rotating assembly of about 20 pizzerias.

In late winter 2015, there were 24 pizzerias principally serving the University District. In February, I began a project to visit, photograph, and sample a pepperoni pizza at each of these. I finished up in the spring of 2017. The document of my gustatory journey follows. Pizzerias are listed in alphabetical order. Pizza rating in upper right of each restaurant's entry reflect the likelihood of my returning based on the quality of the food and the experience. They are purely subjective.

Thanks to Susan Long, Astrid-Long-Kellough, Scott Hammond, Nicole King, Jeremy Kalgreen, Valerie Gilbert, Bill Hughes, Julie Hughes, Dawn Smith, and the others who have joined me on this pizza exploration.

ADRIATICO'S, 265 W. 11th Ave.

The King. Adriatico's is the best pizza in the University District. Survey after survey, poll after poll, year in and year out, identifies Adriatico's as the best pizza in the neighborhood and often the best in the city. Adriatico's has also won numerous citywide pizza competitions.

Adriatico's opened back in 1985 in the spot formerly occupied by the venerable Pizza City (1960-85). It started in Cincinnati where the original restaurant is a fixture near the University of Cincinnati campus.

Tiny building began as garge of a house that used to sit to the west.

Pizza is dine-in, carry-out, or delivery (until 2:30 AM). The large pizza is 16" and a large pepperoni pizza goes for $17.20. Crust is thin, chewy, and garlicy. Sauce is ample and a delicious blend of sweet and spicy. Pepperoni is the large 2-3" type. Pizza is cut in slices.

Look for the pizza clock with pepperoni hours behind the counter.

In October 2017, Ohio State announced plans to demolish the Adriatico's building and several nearby buildings to make way for a new $28 million building to house the College of Optometry and its clinics.

Students, alumni, and neighbors were furious and despaired over the loss of yet another beloved campus landmark.

Happily--with assistance from the university--the business was able to relocate to a new spot around the corner that had been vacated by Aveda, insuring future generations will continue to enjoy this Buckeye tradition.

BLAZE PIZZA, 1708 N. High St.

 Blaze-April 18, 2015

Pasadena, California-based chain Blaze opened in February 2015 with lines around the block as they offered free pizza on their opening day. 

Millennials love Chipotle and Blaze hopes they love the same concept applied to pizza. For $6.95 you get an 11” pizza and can choose as many toppings as you want. Blaze offers 6 sauces, 7 kinds of cheese, and an array of “artisanal” meats and vegetables. They throw it in the oven and 3 minutes later you’ve got a pizza.

Crust is thin and crispy. Cut in slices. Not my favorite but not bad.

Open until 12 AM weekends. VERY popular with weekend drinkers in the new mid-campus bar strip.

Dine-in or carryout. No delivery.



BUCKEYE PIZZA, 1584 Summit St.

Buckeye Pizza, open nearly a decade

It was round and had sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. It was also $7.50.



CAMPUS PIZZA, 1479 Worthington St.

Campus Pizza closed just as I was starting this project so I didn't get to try a slice.

Something else will doubtlessly open in in there soon. This converted residence has housed a number of pizza, wing, and other fast food operations over the past 40 years. Since 1970, this address has housed LBJ Pizza, Pizza Express, Pisa Pete's Pizza-By-the-Slice, Buffalo Bill's Wings World, Cluck-a-Doodle-Doo Wings, Mama Mia's Pizza, and Champs' Café to name just a few.

The University District is a competitive marketplace for pizza and only the strong survive.

CATFISH BIFF'S, 75 W. 11th Ave.

Catfish Biff's-April 17, 2015

Catfish Biff's opened its doors in 1984 at a prime spot just across 11th Ave. from thousands of pizza-hungry South Dorms residents. Catfish Biff’s is open late (3 AM Thursday-Saturday) and offers an affordable pizza. A large (14”) pepperoni pizza goes for $9.50 with a coupon.

Catfish Biff’s has been a rite of passage for Ohio State students for 30 years but opinion is divided. Some recall it fondly as one of their all-time favorites. Others regret it as greasy kid’s stuff. For myself, I was surprised how good it was. Not for nothing has this been around so long. Crust is very thin but chewy. Not flavored. Sauce is basic and slight but a little spicy. Pepperoni is the 1" type. Flavorful. Cheese is not excessive.

Pizza is delivery or carryout. No dine-in but there are a couple picnic tables out front for warm weather dining. Pizza is available by the slice.

Closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never reopened. Building purchesed by Ohio State.


Cottage Inn started in Ann Arbor, Michigan back in 1948 and became a University of Michigan (Boo!) favorite. It became a franchise in 1986 and now has 40 units in Michigan and Ohio. Ohio State location has been around just a couple years.

A tasty, quality pizza. Good crust. Available in 7 flavors. Cut in slices instead of squares (an Ohio custom). Crust rim instead of edge-to-edge toppings (another Ohio custom).

Reasonably priced. 16″ XL one-topping is $13.98.

Nice dining area in a small early 20th Century storefront near Lane and High. Open to 3 AM. Delivery to 3 AM.

DOMINO'S, 2183 N. High St.



The Domino's chain started in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1965 and has expanded to over 10,000 outlets worldwide. Domino's has been on campus since 1970. This particular store has been around since at least 1971.

There used to be another Domino's on Smith Place at the southern edge of the University District. According to campus legend, the franchisee of that particular store was University of Michigan football coach and Woody's rival, Bo Schembechler.

DONATO'S, 2084 N. High St.


Donato's is a homegrown pizza chain that was started by Jim Grote, an Ohio State student, back in 1963. First location was on Thurman St. down in German Village. The chain now has over 150 stores in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and three other states.

Donato's large pepperoni pizza is 14" with a thin, cornmeal-dusted crust, covered edge-to-edge with small pepperoni disks, dusted with Parmesan cheese and seasoning. Sauce is slight but flavorful. It costs $13.90.

Campus Donato’s has carryout, delivery (to 1:30 AM), and one of the larger dining rooms of any of the neighborhood pizzerias.

Donato's first appeared on campus back in 1979 at 15 E. 15th Ave. The current campus location at Frambes and High has been there since 1985. Street front was remodeled in the 2000s for a more contemporary look. The Northberg Tavern, a venerable campus bar dating to the 1930s, formerly resided in the basement.

GATTO'S PIZZA, 2928 N. High St.

Gatto's Pizza is one of the original pizza places in the city of Columbus. The Gatto brothers opened their doors at this location way back in 1952. Walls are covered with framed clippings and photos from Gatto's half-century in the business.

Pizza is delicious. You don't stay open 55 years without a superior product. Uses the little pepperonis that curl up around the edges when they cook. Cut in squares (aka party-style, aka tavern-style, aks Columbus-style, aka Youngstown-style.)

A large is 14" and a large pepperoni pizza runs $12.

No delivery. Carryout only. No real dining space inside. Did not accept credit cards until 2019. Cash or checks. Open 5 PM to 11 PM weeknights. Til 12 weekends.

Moved from its exceedingly hot building to a location on Indianola in Clintonville in 2021.