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Vito’s Pizza and Subs
Out of a possible five
$

Hot dog pie takes pizza to new high

The place had me at Tony Packo’s Pizza.

As soon as I saw those words on the menu at Vito’s Pizza and Subs, which opened in August in the Georgetown North shopping center on East State Boulevard, I knew I was going to like the place.

Vito’s is a small chain based in – you guessed it – Toledo, also home to the legendary hot dog spot.

And this pie did Packo’s proud. And how could it not, given it was made with Tony Packo’s hot dog sauce, sliced Packo’s Hungarian sausage and served with a side of Packo’s pickles and peppers or sweet hot pickles and peppers.

The pizza was also topped with cheddar and mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of yellow mustard, which brought this dog-meets-pie home. The sweet hots were also great whether added to each bite or just to nibble on the side.

But I need to warn you, as great as this crispy, thin-crust delight was, it was not a pizza for those with sensitive tummies.

As impressive as the Packo’s pie was, the most impressive thing about Vito’s was its service, which went well beyond above and beyond. It does a lot of take-out business, so you put in your order at a counter and wait. But the gentleman working the register during both of my visits did something I had never seen before: After rattling off all my items, he told me to hold on a second while he searched his computer to see whether he had any coupons or special deals he could apply. Of course, he did, and it saved me a few bucks.

The second time I visited, I already had a coupon with me, but he told me not to use it because he had some better offers he could apply. If that was not exemplary enough, the computer locked up as he tried to ring me up, which held up the many folks waiting for take-out orders on a busy Friday night. When he finally got it going, he apologized to me and told me he had comped one of my items for the inconvenience.

So, basically, he worked to find me a better deal and that caused his computer to flare up and yet he apologized to me. I felt like I needed to apologize to the folks behind me in line, but I am guessing he took care of them, too.

Another real find at Vito’s was the Sicilian Deep Dish Square Pizza. Vito’s offers four types: thin, deep-dish, classic (hand-tossed) and stuffed, and six crust toppings: ranch, garlic butter, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, Cajun and just straight butter.

The Sicilian monster was tremendous with a nearly 1 1/2 -inch thick crust that was crispy and brown on the bottom and soft and tender on top. I chose the Pepperoni Pleasure Pizza Sicilian-style and was rewarded with double pepperoni and double cheese atop the crust with two toppings of my choice. I chose more pepperoni and even more cheese and felt like a genius.

There wasn’t a bit of cheese peeking through the heavy layer of pepperoni slices, some of which crisped up around the edges a bit, which was great. The cheese did ooze out around the edges enough to brown and crisp, too, which is may favorite part of any pizza. Vito’s slightly sweet sauce paired nicely with this zesty pie as well.

Even a pizza I ordered for my kids and would never order on my own – the Mac ‘N Cheese – was tasty. It had that bright yellow, gooey mac and cheese atop, in this case, a classic hand-tossed crust and came with either bacon or ham. Of course I added bacon, and this pizza was actually wonderful in a processed-cheese kind of way. The mac and cheese did not dry out too much so it was still creamy and good.

The only pizza I did not like was the “Award-Winning Mediterranean.” Not sure what award it won, but this pie, recommended on thin crust, was made with an olive oil sauce, topped with chicken, black olives, green peppers and mozzarella and feta cheese, and seasoned with dried oregano and basil.

The herbaceous flavor profile was fine, but the entire pizza was just way too dry because there was not enough sauce. The chicken was a tad dry, too, but would have been more easily overlooked if it actually had some sauce on it.

There were some nice non-pizza finds, too.

The Vito’s Salad was way above what most pizza take-out joints offer. This mix of greens was topped with red onions, sliced almonds, dried cranberries and gorgonzola cheese. The cheese, almonds and berries were prevalent in every bite and I even had some leftover.

Vito’s New York style foldovers were sort of a combination of a sandwich, a calzone and a taco. A round, bread-like crust was stuffed with ingredients, folded over and dusted with parmesan cheese and baked.

I had the A.1. Angus Steak, which had thinly sliced steak, mushrooms, green peppers, red onions, lettuce, diced Roma tomatoes, provolone and a little A.1. steak sauce. The soft bread and fresh vegetables really made this sandwich a winner.

The chicken wings were just OK. Baked wings are never as good as fried, and I have had many better baked wings. The “Very Hot Sauce” was also not near hot enough to be called “very.”

Both of the breadstick type of items I tried were great. The Vito’s bread had a blend of cheddar and mozzarella, lots of grated Parmesan and garlic. The cinnamon bread was coated in cinnamon sugar and served with sweet white icing for dipping.

Vito’s Pizza and Subs offered a lot. The variety of pizzas, toppings and crusts, and the addition of a great sandwich and salad options made it a place I would definitely go back to.

But when I added in the stellar customer service and that addictive Tony Packo’s pie, it became a place I will frequent.

Restaurant: Vito’s Pizza and Subs

Address: 6533 E. State Blvd.

Phone: 485-8486

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to midnight daily

Cuisine: Pizza

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: None

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Vito’s bread ($5.50 small; $8 medium; $10 large; $11 giant), Vito’s Salad ($3; $6), foldover ($4 6-inch; $6 12-inch), specialty pies ($11; $13; $15; $18), cinnamon bread ($3; $5; $6.25; $7.50)

Rating breakdown: Food: ** 1/2 (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: * (1 maximum)

Note: Restaurants are categorized by price range: $ (less than $20 for three-course meal), $$ ($20-$29); $$$ ($30-$39), $$$$ ($40-$49), $$$$$ ($50 and up).

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.

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