Ohio City Pizzeria will serve pizza and pasta with a mission

When customers walk into the new and improved Ohio City Pizzeria (3223 Lorain Ave.) later this month, they should be prepared for a revamped menu in an old-school Italian setting.

On Friday, July 19, the neighborhood staple will reopen under the ownership of West Side Catholic Center (WSCC), which provides food, clothing, shelter, and other services to those in need. The project is in partnership with Brandon Chrostowski, founder of EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute, where Chrostowski helps formerly-incarcerated adults master the hospitality industry and get a new start.

WSCC bought the 1,700-square-foot pizzeria last March, before former owner Angie Zingalis closed the doors in April to focus on her dry-cleaning business, says WSCC executive director John Litten. WSCC and Chrostowski have spent the past year developing a menu, developing potential staff members from WSCC’s workforce development program and EDWINS graduates, and choosing a nostalgic décor.

“When you walk in here, it really feels like Grandma’s house,” says Chrostowski, explaining that the pizzeria has tin ceilings, dark cherry wood, red-and-white checkered tablecloths, an old 1920s radio behind the bar, and a black-and-white checkerboard floor.

Tiffany-style chandeliers hang over the bar, and the green and “earthy” walls are decorated with restored and vintage black-and-white photos of Ohio City and Sicily. “You want to say, ‘Grandma, you haven’t changed these photos in 30 years,’” Chrostowski says. “You come in and say, ‘Haven’t I been here before?’ Yeah, you have.”

Ohio City Pizzeria will employ about 10 people, serving in roles ranging from servers to management. Profits will go to support WSCC’s mission and workforce programs.

Litten and Chrostowski have been working with Zingalis on developing the menu. In addition to pizza, Chrostowski says they will offer a full Italian menu (including some gluten-free pasta dishes and vegan pizza). “We covered all the bases,” he says.

Chrostowski says entrees won’t be more than about $25, with a steak costing $32 at the high end, and a full bar and 100-bottle wine list will also be priced affordably. “This is still a working man’s pizza shop,” he says. “The price point is modest, with salad costing $6 to $8, appetizers for $8 to $12, and a big plate of pasta for between $14 and $18.”

The two say they will offer delivery from the third-party service, and, of course, take-out orders are welcome.

Opening week, Thursday, July 19 thru Saturday, July 27 the pizzeria will be open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Starting Monday, July 29 regular hours will be 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Ohio City Pizzeria is closed on Sundays.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.