NORTH CANTON  Antonio’s Pizza, a popular pizza destination in the suburbs of Cleveland, expanded this year with a location in Green and most recently in North Canton.

The business isn’t done growing yet either as additional locations are in the works.

START OF THE BUSINESS

Antonio’s Pizza Owner Fred LoSchiavo said the company was started 50 years ago by his father, Tony, on Dec. 12, 1967 in Parma. Joe Poletta, who operated Pepe’s Pizza on West 117th Street in Cleveland, was friends with Tony and allowed him to use the basement of the shop to work on his own recipes. Fred began helping has dad at age 11 and became his dad’s right-hand man.

"I used to go with my dad to learn how to do this," Fred said. "He needed help and I enjoyed making the dough, and I was really good at it."

LoSchiavo and his dad quickly found out that making pizza dough was an art, not a science.

While the first location was a success, one pizzeria was never the plan as Tony and his wife, Grace, had plans to expand their business, so their children had a future. Antonio’s soon after opened locations in the Parmatown Mall, Beachwood Place and downtown Cleveland.

EXPANDING AND GROWING

Fred LoSchiavo married his wife, Julie, and have two sons, Anthony and Vincent, who both also got into the pizza business. Tony would officially turn the business over to Fred and his brother Tony Jr., at that time the brothers were operating four locations. Eventually Anthony, Vincent and Fred bought out Tony Jr.’s portion of the company and they regrouped in 2005.

After working to figure out the best strategy moving forward, the LoSchiavos decided to expand and have opened 11 new locations and since 2008. The company also took a big step forward last year opening a corporate headquarters in Brunswick.

Fred LoSchiavo said he is passionate about food.

"I love coming up with new pizzas," Fred said. "We care about what we give our customers."

As the company began to expand with new locations, LoSchiavo said he found that people were coming from all over the United States to visit Antonio’s. He said he knows someone that comes into town from Atlanta and one of the first things he does is visit Antonio’s.

LoSchiavo, who travels a lot, said he wears his Antonio’s shirt when he travels and always carries gift cards with him to hand out.

"I hear a lot of people say they love our product," Fred said. "It makes you know you are doing your job and that is important to us."

He said growing the business has been gradual and some locations have done better than others. The recently opened location in North Canton is furthest south the company has ventured.

LoSchiavo said he has signed a lease in Fairlawn for a location and he is also looking in Stow and Mentor-on-the-Lake for future locations.

MENU AND OFFERINGS

LoSchiavo said what makes Antonio’s stand out is the quality of the food, extent of the menu and the customer service.

The menu features appetizers like gourmet nuggets, breadsticks, garlic bread, chicken tenders and breaded ravioli. Pizza of course fills the menu with different crusts and sauces to choose from. There are also specialty pizzas like the Italian cheesesteak pizza.

Other offerings include wings, chicken, salads, pasta creations and subs.

Fred said several of his favorite items on the menu include chicken cutlets and the prime rib melt.

The company also offers a wide variety of catering options.

More information about Antonio’s and to order online, visit www.antoniospizza.net.