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LaRosa’s Columbus entrance a sentimental addition for Cincinnati natives

Adriatico’s, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Catfish Biff’s — need I go on? The campus presence of pizza is undoubted: it is a downright staple, as essential and ubiquitous as bread or eggs. And with the prominent, Cincinnati-based franchise LaRosa’s now on the Columbus pizza radar, students and city-dwellers alike have yet another venue to choose from.

Having opened its doors on Nov. 24, LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria is nestled in Dublin, Ohio — a northern Columbus suburb — at 7048 Hospital Drive, Avery Square. It is the first Columbus location for the franchise, whose growing presence includes more than 60 pizzerias across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

So what, exactly, differentiates LaRosa’s from long-time Columbus pizza veterans and countless campus favorites like Tommy’s and Donato’s?

A second-year in health sciences, Cincinnati-native Cossette Buchman believes that the sentimental value of LaRosa’s is at the heart of its appeal.

“LaRosa’s was the pizza I ate growing up,” Buchman recalled. “My parents didn’t like it because the sauce was very sweet, but it was always the kids’ favorite. We would go there for birthdays or special occasions.”

But others, including second-year in engineering Stuart Ruck, believe the LaRosa’s hype is simply a regional phenomenon. As a Beavercreek native, Ruck is familiar with the franchisor and its considerable Dayton presence — a presence spanning five stores in total.

“It’s just pizza: nothing terrible, nothing great,” Ruck said. “Don’t get me wrong, (LaRosa’s) is decent … but it’s like the Skyline craze. People from Cincinnati rave about their chili, when it’s nothing really that exceptional.”

LaRosa’s now stands among the ranks of a myriad of Cincinnati-borne chains — from Graeter’s to Skyline to Dewey’s — whose tendrils have reached Columbus.

A 20-minute drive from campus, this particular venue features a traditional dining room with up to 140 seats, as well as patio seating and “Buddy’s Room,” a space designed for parties and groups that throws back to its founder. And while the venue offers carryout and delivery as well, the sheer distance remains an obstacle for students like Buchman.

“I would go there on the weekend, but on a school night I’d rather get something close. Now I prefer Dewey’s and Adriatico’s, but I still like LaRosa’s for the sentimental value,” Buchman said.

LaRosa’s menu features “classic specialty pizzas,” alongside a build-your-own menu, which ranges from $4.89 for a plain, 8-inch small to $13.39 for a 16-inch extra-large. The menu also features other Italian dishes — pasta, hoagies, calzones, salads, among others.

The restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday and from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. all other days.

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