For the past 50 years, Mentor residents have flocked to Longo’s Pizza for its authentic house-made Italian dishes made from the recipes of original owners Joe and Tootie Longo. Today, Joe Longo Jr. carries on the family tradition with two Longo’s locations in Mentor, plus Joey’s Italian Grille spots in Chardon and Madison and Pastina in Mentor.
We’ve always stayed true to how we started out here. We’ve used the same sauces for more than 50 years, and we still make our own meatballs and sausage. I could save a lot of money by changing things. What we do is a lot more labor, but we’ve kept true to what we pride ourselves on. My sister Tina and I grew up here; this is the only thing we’ve ever done. We complement each other well and at the end of the day we have the same goals. You get a passion for something and you stay active in it every day. It’s all about the community here.
Our father always told us to support the community that has supported you. We take that to heart. We’re known for our pizzas, chicken Parm, chicken tenders, lasagna and meatballs. On a Friday, we’ll sell 1,000 pizzas at all of our locations and we sell more than 3,500 pounds of chicken tenders each week. There are more than 250 restaurants in Mentor. We’re the oldest restaurant in the city, and we’re proud of that. We’re feeding three generations now.
The core of what we do never changes. I’d rather be called an “old standby” than a “flash in the pan.“ You’re only as good as your staff. We have people who have been here for more than 20 or 30 years. If you want to be successful, you have to be heavily involved in the daily operations and invest in a good staff. As corny as it sounds, the best thing about this business is that we love what we do. — as told to Barry Goodrich
When You Go: Longo's Pizza, 8907 Mentor Ave, 440-974-8282, longospizza.com
Read More: Click here to read the full list of 18 Classic Cleveland Restaurants.