I was taught growing up that you should not discuss religion or politics. As I have grown older, I have added pizza to the list of taboo subjects – people are passionate about their pizza preferences! With that being stated, the following is a summary of just some of the amazing locally or regionally owned pizza places in Warren County. Obviously, this list is not all-inclusive (a complete restaurant list can be found here), but rather representative of some of the local pizza dining options that visitors to Southwest Ohio might want to enjoy.
Aponte’s is located in Mason, Ohio and is locally owned and operated. Fans of the TV show Restaurant Impossible may recognize this pizzeria from its 2013 episode. For my visit with colleagues, we enjoyed a variety of calzones, strombolis, and their massive 16” BBQ Pizza, featuring pulled chicken, feta, celery salad, tomato, and alfredo sauce. In addition to a wide variety of pizzas and toppings, the restaurant offers salads, subs, and entrees such as Eggplant Parmesan, Salmon Tapenade, and Spaghetti or Rigatoni & Meatballs. The menu variety, ample seating, and large portions make this a great option for families, teams, or date nights.
Bentino’s Pizza. A local favorite since 1998, my family just discovered this little gem last year. Locally owned by a father and son, their mission is simple,“serve delicious, affordable food that guests will want to return to week after week.” They make their dough from scratch daily and top it with homemade pizza sauce and fresh ingredients. Three pizza size options mean you can order individual faves (8”) or share (12” or 16”). I would categorize this as hand-tossed – not super thin crust and not deep-dish. Personal favorites include Meat Madness, The Greek, and Deluxe. Their calzones are also a family-favorite, and we start every meal with Garlic Knots. Pasta options, hoagies, gyros, and salads round out the menu.
Campioni’s Pizzeria and Sports Bar offers two Warren County locations – Mason and Springboro. Both locations are locally owned by the same family. Appetizers, wings, a wide variety of fresh salads, spaghetti, calzones, and pizza are on the menu. On a recent visit, we tried the Campioni’s Deluxe pizza, BBQ Chicken pizza, and Mac n Cheese Bites as an appetizer. Ingredients were fresh and generous. Even with their small 9” pizza, I had enough to share. I couldn’t help but notice a couple of unique specialty pizza offerings on the menu – Cheese Steak (grilled steak sirloin, sautéed onions, mushrooms, and cheese) and a BLT (complete with bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo). I would categorize their pizzas as thin crust. Seating areas include the main dining room, bar area, outside, and a party room available for free rental making Campioni’s ideal for a variety of occasions and group sizes/types.
Two regional chains have made their way to Warren County in recent years. LaRosa’s Pizzeria was founded in Cincinnati in 1954 and now has locations in Mason, Mainville, and Lebanon. They offer a full menu with family recipe pizzas and other Italian favorites – over 40 menu selections, in fact! Now it seems that it is usually crust-type that drives preferences, so it is worth noting that LaRosa’s offers traditional thin, crispy pan, hand-tossed, gluten-free and multigrain honey wheat. Many who grew up in this area got their first taste of LaRosa’s at Kings Island – myself included. Maybe it is the nostalgia of it, but I still prefer their traditional thin pepperoni pizza. I have to add though, that their Antipasto Salad is one of my favorite salads anywhere!
Marion’s Piazza was founded in nearby Dayton, Ohio in 1965 and now has a Warren County location in Mason. Founder Marion Glass developed a thin crust pizza (often referred to as “Dayton Style”) which has been voted “Dayton’s Best Pizza” in over 32 local newspaper and magazine surveys and has been rated “Second in the Nation of Independent Pizza Establishments” in Pizza Today Magazine. While there are sandwich, pasta, and salad offerings, the star of Marion’s is the pizza. Most offerings are fairly traditional, but an unusual pie I urge you to try is the Ham & Sauerkraut Pizza.
Because we often see sports teams, multigenerational families, and groups coming to the area, I am including one national chain that has opened its first Ohio location in Mason. Blaze Pizza specializes in fast, 11” personal pizzas that you completely customize – all for a flat rate price. Available toppings range from applewood bacon and crumbled meatballs to artichoke and arugula. And there are 7 cheeses from which to choose (including a vegan option), as well as 6 sauces. While the crust is super-thin, I found I still had enough for 2 lunches. The customization aspect allows every guest to get exactly what they’re craving. As of this writing, Blaze’s pizzas were also very affordable at just $6.95 each!
Southwest Ohio has a history of innovators and inventors as well as an entrepreneurial spirit – so we have plenty of great, locally owned and operated restaurants in the area. Hopefully, this gives you just a taste of some of the great options available when you just gotta have a pizza!