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Bexley restaurant plain but not bland

Sara Bradley / Lantern photographer

Rubino’s Pizza in Bexley serves a nostalgic, no-frills menu that conjures up sentiments of a Sunday Italian dinner with the family.

Driving down Main Street in Bexley, a sign pops up that is reminiscent of a drive-in theater. Illuminated with individual light bulbs, the neon sign points to a non-descript brick building with two front windows adorned with red-and-white checkered valences.

Rubino’s is at 2643 East Main St. The interior is not much different from the retro exterior. Inside are few tables, a few booths and no air conditioning. A small menu that includes only pizza, pasta and sub sandwiches — the basics.

I sat down in a booth and I was the only diner there for the lunch specials, available daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Having eaten their signature super-thin crust pizza many times before, I decided to try something new.

I had to ask for a menu and I was handed a small, one-sided piece of paper. It didn’t take long to choose.

I ordered a side salad, a meatball sub with banana peppers, without onions, and a Diet Coke.

First came my salad and a can of Diet Coke, not a fountain drink as I had assumed. I liked this idea. A self-professed germophobe, I believe the less people’s hands are touching my food and drink, the better.

The salad was plain, but not bland. It consisted of some lettuce, a whole banana pepper and a house-made oil and vinegar dressing. This was the start of my no-frills, satisfyingly delicious meal.

Within 10 minutes of sitting down in the booth, my meatball sub arrived. The sub sandwich filled an entire basket and was adorned with more than a handful of crinkle-cut potato chips, not house-made. As I bit into the sub, I became aware that the chips were the only things not authentic in front of me.

Juicy, flavorful meatballs were cut in half and put on fresh, toasted Italian bread. With melted mozzarella, a homemade spaghetti sauce and banana pepper, the sub was too large of a portion for me to finish in one sitting.

I was given a square of aluminum foil and a plain white paper bag to pack up my leftovers. The bill arrived and I was shocked. $4.50 for the sandwich, $1.15 for the salad and $.60 for the pop. With tax and a tip, I had a delicious lunch and leftovers for later for under $10.

Rubino’s is not the place to go for a fancy date. It is the old favorite that you return to with friends. Rubino’s serves up uncomplicated, family foods that are sure to bring to mind old memories and become associated with new ones.

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