The storied tradition behind Springfield’s Italian-owned pizza house

Sept 06, 2018
  • By Glenn and Kim Creyts
  • Contributing Writers
Contributing Writers
Catanzaro’s employee, Jennie Lanum, slices up a pizza in the kitchen. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

It all started with fruits and veggies. Today, Catanzaro’s is famous for its authentic old-world style pizza and overstuffed subs. Here’s the story of how this business got its start and has changed through the decades.

Restaurant: Russ and Joe Catanzaro’s Old World Style Pizza and Subs

Location: 433 Dayton Ave., Springfield

Contact:

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Joe Catanzaro, right, and his wife, Linda, pose for a picture with staff members Don Oder and Jennie Lanum in the store. BILL LACKEY/STAFF Photo: Contributing Writers

Background/Overview: The Catanzaro family opened their first fancy fruit and fresh vegetable stand at the old City Market in 1889. Russ Catanzaro was born in 1911. He served in World War II, and then returned home to Springfield to work again in the family business.

Russ and his son Joe decided to build their own shop on Dayton Avenue in 1951. When they first opened, they sold fruits, vegetables, pizza and subs, however, they returned to selling just produce in the 1960s.

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Joe reverted to selling pizza in the shop in the late 1980s. He wanted to exhibit his family’s favorite old world style pizza to his customers. Then, one day he was making a “Torpedo” sandwich for himself and his employee Nancy for lunch. A local factory worker happened to come into the shop at that very moment and saw that great-looking sandwich ready to eat! He asked if he could buy it, and a stunned Joe sold to him with pleasure. The very next day, Joe began making and selling overstuffed submarine sandwiches, along with the pizza.

Containers full of candy at Catanzaro’s. BILL LACKEY/STAFF Photo: Contributing Writers

Today, Russ & Joe Catanzaro’s Old World Style Pizza and Subs is still the only Italian-owned pizza house in Springfield. And, is set in the exact location they built 67 years ago. The shop’s general manager for the past 11 years is their friend, Don Oder.

Catanzaro’s signature pizza crust, sauce, Italian bread, lasagna, chicken wings, and salads are additive-free and preservative-free and made daily onsite. Russ said, “We better keep ‘em (customers) healthy!”

Also, Catanzaro’s sells the highest quality seasonal fancy fruits, fresh vegetables, bulk novelty candies, 30 varieties of potato chips, freshly packaged desserts, and showcased ice cream treats, amongst many other items. Joe says, “More than you expect, just what you deserve!”

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A deluxe pizza at Catanzaro’s, fresh out of the oven. BILL LACKEY/STAFF Photo: Contributing Writers

The Menu:

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The Catanzaro’s store filled with fresh produce. BILL LACKEY/STAFF Photo: Contributing Writers

Hours:

Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

More Information:

Call-ahead orders are greatly appreciated. Delivery is offered until 30 minutes before closing.

Pan pasta, party trays and gift baskets can be handcrafted for all of your occasions; and Catanzaro’s catering orders include the set-up and clean-up.

Joe Catanzaro is a Mad River Township Trustee since 2010. He also owns Catanzaro’s Carriage Inn Restaurant in Enon. Telephone: (937) 864-1307.

Look for local restaurant profiles by Glenn and Kim Creyts every other week in “Life.” For inquiries regarding this column, and “Restaurant Profile” ideas and suggestions for future columns, please contact Glenn and Kim via e-mail: glenncreyts@att.net.

A sign hanging over the counter lets people know how long Catanzaro’s has been around. BILL LACKEY/STAFF Photo: Contributing Writers