Living Large in Northeast Ohio
March 5, 2016
January 1 2016
The Elmton in Struthers has always been one of my favorite places to go. It was a hangout when I was in high school almost 49 years ago, especially after the Boardman/Struthers football game. Struthers was Boardman's big rival. Boardman "cake eaters" like me thought we were living dangerously in enemy territory!!! After high school it continued to be the place to go for my college friends. Many a Friday night were spent in those booths with the individual juke boxes.
Over the years the Elmton has held a special place in my heart. It was my comfort place where I went for comfort food. It was the first place I brought my wife to be when she came to Youngstown for her first visit. When we got engaged, we went to the Elmton. When we got married we went to the Elmton. When we had our son, the first place we brought him in his baby carrier was the Elmton. Over the years we have spent anniversaries, birthdays, and numerous other celebrations at the Elmton.
It has been at this location since 1945, operated by the same family as ownership passed through the generations. Center to its menu is its pizza. You will never taste pizza like this anywhere else. You can decide for yourself whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. You either like it, or you hate it. The most obvious thing about Elmton pizza is it tends to be a tad greasy, and it tastes much better hot than cold. This is due to the amount of cheese it uses. The “cheese” is actually a combination of cheeses, the makeup of which is a trade secret. An article in the Vindicator a number of years ago said that it is Swiss cheese that gives it its extra tang. And it is delicious.
The sauce is cooked a long time, and it includes sliced green peppers which have had the “hell” cooked out of them. I am not a pepper fan, and I fish them off of my pizza, but the flavor makes the sauce great. They won’t serve pizza without peppers because grandma wouldn’t like them doing that. The recipe is the recipe.
Its other claim to fame is broasted chicken. This was a novelty back in the 1950’s. It involves pressure cooking the chicken in oil. In this health conscious world, this is one of the few places left in the United States where they still brag about broasted chicken. The only other place I have seen it is at an early bird special place called The Flaming Pit on Federal Highway in Pompano. Trans fats anyone? Notwithstanding, the chicken it terrific, served with broasted fries on the side, and cole slaw.
The menu is not limited to chicken and pizza. You will find spaghetti, cavatelli, fried fish, hamburgs and hot dogs. The hot dogs are either broasted or fried and delicious.
The Elmton caters to Struthers locals, but you can see all sorts of folks there from all over the county. The bar in the front room is a polished, wooden classic, and there are two back rooms that are just for dining. The far back room is often used for parties. I had a birthday party for my son there once. The folks who work here tend to stay a long time.
One problem, if you can call it a problem, is that over the past years it has grown in popularity. A number of years ago the owners decided to redo the place and do some advertising. (They took out the juke boxes....Oh No!!!!!) What used to be a place you could get into with relative ease became one of the busiest places in town. That can mean long waits for pizza on Friday nights and early Saturday evenings. But it is worth the wait, and there are all sorts of "not so heart healthy" appetizers to munch on while waiting.
They have a separate carry out entrance right next to the main restaurant. Last time I ordered out I stood behind five people also in line to pick up their carryout. Bad for me. Good for the Elmton. My only regret is that is a long haul to Struthers from Canfield, which means I don't get down there as often as I would like either to eat there or take out. I also miss the juke boxes at each of the booths. Life didn't get any better than sitting there eating pizza, drinking wine, and listening to Patsy Cline on the juke box.
From the interesting patrons, to its wonderful and original pizza, to its tacky Christmas decorations...the Elmton is Youngstown comfort food. Take a trip to Struthers and give it a try. Warning: It closes for a week in the summer for vacation...usually the last week in July. Call before you go to make sure they are open.
584 Fifth Street (at the corner of 5th and Elm)
Struthers, Ohio 44471
By: Mark G. Mangie
The Elmton: Struthers Comfort Food