By Dom Joseph
When asked what form of food is most popular in Youngstown, the answer was unanimous — pizza. Restaurants like Belleria Pizza & Italian Restaurant, Wedgewood Pizza, Pizza Joe’s and Cocca’s Pizza have gone to battle for years to be the city’s best-tasting pizza. One restaurant, however, has separated itself from the rest.
Avalon Downtown at 17 West Federal Street has served downtown Youngstown for over six years. Opening on New Years Day of 2013, it arrived as a subtle replacement to the closed Avalon Gardens tavern.
Avalon Gardens closed the year prior to Avalon Downtown’s arrival. The tavern served the North Side of Youngstown for 90 years.
Brigid Donofrio, a junior communication major at Youngstown State University, said she was devastated when Avalon Gardens closed.
“When they brought Avalon back, I was so happy, and I was going there at least once a month … Whenever someone asks me where the best pizza is close to campus, I always tell them Avalon,” she said.
In a city where pizza is the most popular food choice, Donofrio explained why Avalon is the undisputed champion.
“It’s very distinct,” Donofrio said. “You take one bite, and you know it’s Avalon. Some other local places have similar tastes and styles, but Avalon has its own very unique flavor.”
Avalon has a wide variety of pizza choices for its customers in the hopes of attracting more than just traditionalists.
Jacob Sebest, a junior communication major, said Avalon is the best place to get a speciality pizza.
“I recommend their Mediterranean pizza. They use very fresh olives. Their cheese is good. Their spinach is good, and they use a perfect amount of olive oil. I also like their egg pizza. It’s very creative, and not a lot of people make things like that.”
When it comes to the classics such as pepperoni, cheese and the local Brier Hill pizza, Avalon is Sebest and Donofrio’s first choice.
“Their cheese pizza is the best,” Donofrio said. “I also like the Brier Hill. That was actually really good and of course their pepperoni is delicious, too.”
“Although I’m not a huge fan of their tomato sauce, I do love their Brier Hill,” Sebest said. “The flavor and the crust they use makes up for that.”
Avalon Downtown competes with V2 Wine Bar and Trattoria, Bistro 1907 by Mark Canzonetta, O’Donald’s Irish Pub and Grill Downtown and The Federal during the after-work hours each night, and it attracts a large crowd.
“It’s definitely fun during the downtown hours,” Donofrio said. “It’s fun going down there for dinner, but honestly, anytime is a good time for Avalon.”
Since its grand opening, Avalon has put its name inside the competition for best pizza in the Mahoning Valley. It’s a very opinionated debate, but Avalon is continuously brought up as a vote for the best.