On an early spring work-related trip to Columbus, I landed in town just in time for a late lunch. It would be pizza of course, and I tracked down a new joint not too far from the airport. Heading southeast into the Columbus suburb of Bexley, I made my way towards Rubino’s Pizzeria.
Not that it often matters much, but Rubino’s is rated four-stars on Yelp and is also found on a list of the 25-best pizzerias in Columbus. With a description that made it sound like it had some old-school charm, I was interested. While my visit found that it did, Rubino’s was yet another incident of Chicago thin crust pizza—the kind that the Pizza Snob prefers to not prefer.
Driving through a busy commercial area along the narrow four-lane East Main Street into Bexley, in a somewhat short span I passed a Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and a Donatos. Then, just as the commerce turned residential, I spotted Rubino’s classic neon sign at the curb in front of their small square non-descript free-standing brick building. (Talk about pizza congestion, there was even Bexley Pizza Plus right next store!)
I parked in between the window signs for “pizza” and “spaghetti.” As I walked through the front door, I felt like I was warping back into 1965. The big square room had old red-cushioned booths against the wall alongside a sea of Formica tables. There were also a vintage Ms. Pac Man and an old pinball machine that helped date the scene. To the left was a long counter in front of the old ovens that looked to be made of black cast iron. An award hung on the front wall naming Rubino’s the best pizza in Ohio.
I took a seat in the rear where I received table service for my order. The menu board right above my head, was all I needed to request a small salad, large cheese pizza ($10.25–no slices here) and some water (served in my own plastic jug with a small Styrofoam cup).
Not knowing what I would be getting into, the Chicago-thin, which I should have expected, was put upon me. I did my gracious best to hide my smirk and at least first give it a try. I just don’t like this oily, cracker-thin crust cross cut variety of pizza which I am now learning reigns here in Columbus.
I started eating around the edges, but things soon got sloppy when I ate in the middle where there’s no crust to hang on to. Funny how there were even a few pieces cut so small that were no bigger than a dime.
As expected, the crust tastes like a cracker, and the pie was overall way too juicy with oil for my liking. However, I must say that the tomato sauce and cheese didn’t taste that bad despite being somewhat salty. My rating will be better than you would expect, since for some reason there was something flavorful about this pizza. I wound up eating all but a few small crust-less squares in the center.
Rubino’s Pizzeria (cash-only, by the way) has been around since 1954 and will probably be around a lot longer. Although what they offer is similar, I think theirs is a notch above the locally-founded Donatos which has since blossomed into a regional chain. On the other hand, Rubino’s stayed true to its roots and if Mom and Pops are you kind of thing, you will walk away smiling like I did.
Rubino’s was a fun journey back in time despite not being my favorite style of pizza. The service was great and this would be a fun place to take your family if you don’t mind some Chicago-thin.
PIZZA SNOB RATING *** ½ Working on a Good Thing