Natalie Jackson was just a small-town girl and recent college graduate who moved to New York City for excitement and job prospects.
She found both and something else: pizza.
Jackson, a Circleville native, fell in love with New York-style pies, particularly those from Grimaldi's in Brooklyn and John's in Greenwich Village.
Meanwhile, her dad, Charlie Jackson, had a different passion: music. He said he always enjoyed the venues that offered good food and music.
So the two combined talents and, on Friday, Aug. 3, will open Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza and Live Music in Worthington. It takes over 2,400 square foot of space at 5601 N. High St. in part of the building that used to house W.C. Gathers. Natalie's, a full-service restaurant, seats 100 in an open space that's both industrial and comfortable.
"We thought we'd make a good team," said Charlie Jackson, who's also director of the Pickaway County Visitors Bureau.
"I really think we have something special here," Natalie Jackson said. "We're really excited to open. It's been a long time coming."
Getting the crust right was paramount. To achieve the authentic charred crust they desired, they purchased a 6,000-pound Earthstone oven that uses anthracite, a clean-burning coal.
Getting the thing in the building was another ordeal altogether. They had to build an opening big enough at the back of the restaurant, with two swinging doors, to fit the oven inside.
Decorated with mosaic copper-colored tiles, the oven reaches temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees, which bakes the pies in three to four minutes.
Dave Koenig, the chef and general manager with 20-plus years in the restaurant business, said one thing to remember is the quality of the products, including the fresh -- but not made-on-premises -- mozzarella.
"Everything in this house is fresh," he said. "There is no freezer."
The hand-tossed crust, for starters, is made with 100-year-old sourdough starter, named after explorer Jedediah Smith. There are 13 signature pies and a create-your-own section. All options come in 12 inches and cost $11 to $15.
There are a few starters, such as the hand-crafted arancini, (the deep-fried risotto balls served with a slow-cooked marinara) bruschetta, hummus and mac 'n' cheese. The menu is rounded out with a few salads.
Natalie's has a full liquor license, including 12 beer taps. The emphasis will be on locally made products as much as possible, she said.
The live music will consist mostly of American traditional -- folk, blues, jazz and singer-songwriters. She said she realizes some people won't want to have their meals interrupted by the tunes, so patrons can check the schedule at nataliescoalfiredpizza.com.
Natalie's is open for dinner six days a week, closed Monday. For more information, call 614-436-2625.
Babushka's Kitchen has moved to Northland.
The Polish restaurant in Clintonville has picked up stakes and is relocating to the former Merchant of India space at 5173 Sinclair Road.
Owner Dennis Bennett said the Clintonville location, in the former Scottie MacBean site at 4675 N. High St., was too big and the new space opens up the opportunity for a liquor license.
The restaurant should open in about four months after an extensive remodeling effort is complete at the new location.
Passport Cafe is now open until 7 p.m. weekdays and from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
"It was something our customers asked for," owner Troy Bellot said. "That was our biggest complaint: People who wanted to get here but just couldn't break free for lunch."
The restaurant is located at 1335 Dublin Road in the Rivers Edge Corporate Center just outside of Grandview Heights.