What's a Tarantosaurus? No, it's not a dinosaur: It's a 29-inch pizza at Taranto's

·3 min read
Buffalo chicken pizza at Taranto's Pizzeria
Buffalo chicken pizza at Taranto's Pizzeria

Taranto's Pizzeria is a big name in the local pie business and has — get this — one of the largest pizzas in central Ohio.

The Tarantosaurus is a 29-inch option that is equivalent of four pizzas. Although it can be loaded with as many choices as the customer prefers, most choose the standard three-cheese blend and pepperoni for $55.

Owner Debbie Taranto said an associate who helped her build up the business suggested offering the gargantuan pizza size. A naming contest was held and a customer came up with Tarantosaurus.

History was born.

For 22 years, the locally owned and operated store has been tossing its own dough, mixing its own sauce and developing its own brand of signature pizzas.

Her brother, Dan Taranto, opened the original Taranto’s in Pickerington more than 30 years ago, but it has since closed.

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Debbie and her father, John, collaborated on the Lewis Center store.

Taranto's: Signature pizzas include traditional, gluten-free and vegan options

Pizza is big business at Taranto's.

"Our ingredients are fresh-made daily in the kitchen by people who live in the community we serve," said pizza maker David Starcher, who has been at the restaurant for 10 years. "Although we are in Polaris, when you walk into our dining room, it feels just like you entered your local hometown pizzeria."

Red sauce specialty pies come in 7 ($9.75); 10 ($13.75); 12 ($17.75); and 14 ($19.99) inches. Five-cheese and white pizzas are, respectively, $7.99, $10.75, $12.75 and $14.99.

The all-out customer and staff favorite is the Buffalo chicken version — roasted chicken breast, onion, mozzarella-provolone mix, Buffalo sauce and a topping of ranch and jack cheese. Taranto’s son, Noah, now 27, created the pie about seven years ago.

“It’s very popular, especially with the 20-something crowd,” she said.

A build-your-own option is on the menu as well.

Early on, Taranto accommodated people with diet sensitivities by offering a gluten-free crust made by a bakery to the restaurant’s specifications. She also introduced a vegan crust about year ago, which is made in-house. Pizzas come with non-meat toppings and dairy-free cheese. A cauliflower crust also is available.

Italian sub at Taranto's Pizzeria
Italian sub at Taranto's Pizzeria

Subs are substantial meals made heftier with a side of fries ($2).

An Italian sub ($7.99) with salami, ham, capicola and traditional garnishes is a crowd-pleaser. Gussy it up with spicy Italian sausage crumbles ($8.75).

A veggie sub ($7.99) has mushrooms, onions, green peppers and the two-cheese blend.

“What’s unique about them is the bread,” which is purchased from an out-of-state bakery, she said. “You can do things like that when you’re an independent, not a chain, a few things out of the box.”

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Taranto’s also is known for its stromboli ($9.25, $12:50 and $15.50), essentially a rolled pizza with cheese and four toppings, while the outside brushed with a garlic-butter sauce, is baked to a golden-brown. Marinara is served on the side.

Labor issues and other factors have kept Taranto from expanding. She has invested in her community by helping found the Orange Township Business Association, and the Fourth of July parade and fireworks.

“I love my community,” she said. “I love where we are at this point. It’s just a perfect location.”


Taranto’s Pizzeria

Where: 1282 E. Powell Road, Lewis Center

Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Mondays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays

Contact: 614-841-2345, https://tarantospizzeria.com/

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Taranto's Pizzeria in Lewis Center serves signature pies, hefty subs