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The Suburbanite
  • Only homemade at Contessa’s Pizza

  • Real Italian-made food can be found across the ocean in Italy, or if you are looking for a shorter drive, try Contessa’s Pizzeria.


    “Everything is homemade,” said Denise Bailey, sister of owner Geno Ivey. “The sauces, dressing, chicken, soups - everything is wholesome, not processed and nothing out of a can.”

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  • Real Italian-made food can be found across the ocean in Italy, or if you are looking for a shorter drive, try Contessa’s Pizzeria.
    “Everything is homemade,” said Denise Bailey, sister of owner Geno Ivey. “The sauces, dressing, chicken, soups - everything is wholesome, not processed and nothing out of a can.”
    Ivey, who had been in the car business for 30 years, always loved to cook and wanted to start a family restaurant.
    Thanks to support from his Uncle Matt, Contessa’s Pizzeria, located at 6630 Wise Ave NW, North Canton,  opened back in November 2008.
    “I talked my uncle for years about why I don’t just open up a place,” Ivey said. “A year ago, I laid out a business plan. I wanted to open up in July, but didn’t get the place until October.”
    Pizza is of course on the menu, but there is a host of family recipes for a variety of Italian food. Ivey had many passed down to him by cooking with this mother Phyllis growing up.
    “Mom was sick a long time, so Geno spent a lot of time with mom in the kitchen,” Bailey said. “She taught him a lot, he learned to take care of her, and that’s how they started making pizza together.”
    Geno has plenty of practice, having been the cook at the family holidays, doing all the sauces, pastas and the traditional food for a big Christmas dinner.
    Besides all of the cooking knowledge Geno has, Contessa’s uses his grandmother Mary’s sauces and wedding soup, and more recipes from his Aunt Mary as well. Bailey helps with the cooking and will be working alongside Geno more frequently than she already does now in the near future.
    With two generations worth of recipes making up the menu, the name Contessa’s was natural as it is the name of the family when they came over from Italy.
    The atmosphere of Contessa’s is also unique, with a relaxed, family feeling kind of restaurant. Geno takes the time to get to know his customers, joke around with them, and loves their non-verbal feedback.
    “I love cooking,” Geno said. “I love making you something and waiting for the expression on people’s faces when they eat it. It’s just a passion of mine that I always wanted to do.”
    As an example of how authentic Geno’s is to the going to Italy, customer Carl Talrico of North Canton explained why he keeps coming back.
    “I love Margarita Pizza, which my mom would make for me growing up,” Talrico said. “The only time it tasted that way again was when I went to Rome in 1999. When I heard this place was opening, I came down, I tasted the Margarita Pizza, it tasted just like mom’s, and I’ve been coming back ever since.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Geno has appreciated the people of Jackson and North Canton, saying they are “fantastic.”
    “We have very loyal customers here, and I try to make them feel like friends,” Geno said. “Your not leaving an Italian house and feeling hungry.”
    The wedding soup is not the dull soup found at some other restaurants. It tastes fresh and like something that has taken two days to cook, which Geno does for his soup.
    There are five different kinds of specialty pizza besides traditional toppings, salads, broasted chicken, wings, subs, pasta dinners which can also be done for family sized 6-8 servings, baked specialties like pasta penne and lasagna and various sides.
    The house speciality is Contessa’s Peppers, where Ivey takes three hot banana peppers and stuffs them with Hot Italian Sausage, then sautes them in Olive Oil, adds in fresh garlic and tomatoes and tops it off with Parmesan Cheese. These are hot, so they are only for the brave.
    If there is something not on the menu but is requested, Geno will do his best to accommodate.
    A free lunch club is offered as well. Order anything seven times, and get the eighth meal free up to a $6.95 value, which is a majority of the items on the menu.
    Catering the food aspect of events like weddings, business lunches and graduation parties is also available. Geno said they would fill the order no matter what the size, and call for pricing
    Delivery and ordering ahead are available by calling 330-497-3700. Finding the place should be easy, just look for the red and green umbrella tops out in the front, and smiles at the front door.