Forget hot dogs and apple pie, pizza is perhaps America’s favorite dish. According to an article on The Food Network, the average American eats 6000 slices ( or 750 pizzas) during their lifetime. That’s a lot of pizza.
In every Ohio town you’ll find locals who are passionate about their favorite pizza shop. Most towns have one or two standouts with a fierce and passionate following.
Today I wanted to take a look at one of Chillicothe’s storied establishments: Jerry’s Pizza. Since 1954, Jerry’s has been serving up their signature slices at the same location on the corner of Paint Street and East 8th, walking distance from the paper mill.
It’s really just a little hole in the wall place. Some might say the building has seen better days, or maybe even that it looks like a dive bar. But that’s all part of the charm.
Jerry’s plays host to bar regulars and families alike. Old school wood paneling and red upholstered booths set off the decor. Sports are playing on the televisions screens on this Sunday afternoon, though I’ve been here on a weekday when the same screens featured Wheel of Fortune for the bar regulars. The Ohio Lottery game Keno is available to play as you wait on your pie as well.
There are weekly specials and special theme nights, such as Sunday night karaoke. But the real draw here is the pizza.
Fried Pepperoni and Pop
They have all the usual starters like chips, wings and fried pickles. But their fried pepperoni is unique, so I order a basket.
My husband is skeptical. The basket is mounded high and served with a side of ranch for dipping. They are crisp and very snackable. Imagine a chip made out of pepperoni. Maybe it’s the newest low-carb alternative, but don’t tell your cardiologist I said that. (And it certainly beats kale chips.)
We wash down our starter with pop (because it’s pop here in Ohio). Pepsi products are served.
Thin Crust Pizza
Shortly our two, yes two, large pizzas arrive at the table. Yes, your math is correct: two people, two large pizzas. One large pizza is not enough for two adults. I know a friend that tells me her daughter could polish off a Jerry’s large on her own from the age of eight, and she is a tiny thing.
The pies are decidedly thin crust, made from a secret recipe. Some like their crust very crisp and ask the waitress to “burn it.” I prefer mine to have just the slightest bend and prefer it the way Jerry intended.
The sauce is just a bit sweet. And though no one would call the sauce chunky, it’s not exactly smooth like a jar sauce either. Upon examination, you can see little bits of the tomato. It’s delicious.
Overall the pizza has a bit of a different taste, not at all like your traditional pizza and most find it a love it or hate it affair. I’ve heard both. I am definitely in the “love it” camp and occasionally crave it enough to warrant the hour plus drive for an evening at Jerry’s.
It’s not just the pizza that keeps me coming back. There’s a home town vibe as well. The wait staff is attentive and friendly, the atmosphere comfortable. My kids always get a kick out of the restrooms. In order to get to the ladies restroom, you have to pass through the bar to a tiny doorway back by the pizza ovens.
This place has been here forever. It’s stood the test of time. I wouldn’t change a thing and will continue to make my bi-annual pilgrimages to Jerry’s.
Though the location on Paint Street will forever be my favorite, Jerry’s has a second location, Jerry’s Pizza West, at 23 Star Drive in Chillicothe.