Since 1975, the pizza "worth the drive" has been prepared with the same family recipe that has kept regulars coming back for generations.

Since 1975, the pizza "worth the drive" has been prepared with the same family recipe that has kept regulars coming back for generations.

Owner Tim Bucco and his wife were once regulars themselves at Little Sicily's Pizza, 2965 Brice Road, before becoming the owners in 2006.

"My wife and I have been customers since almost day one and we knew the previous owner well," he said. "When we were dating, we came here all the time, back when it was only a 12-seat restaurant with mostly carryout business.

"This has always been family-owned; my daughter and son are in college right now but if they're interested someday, they'll be welcome to carry it on."

Bucco isn't quite ready to hand over the reins yet, he said.

He feels like he's just getting started.

"In the 1990s, Little Sicily's expanded out to 70 indoor seats and then when we took over, we put in the outdoor patio to expand it by 50 more seats for a total of about 120," Bucco said. "This way, we can have entertainment every Saturday night during good weather and we've got a couple of regular acts that people really seem to enjoy.

"While we're mainly a family restaurant, we do like to invite people in for the NFL ticket on our three big-screen TVs and we have regulars that participate in our fantasy football league," he said.

Of course, the key to success for any longtime restaurant is in its food, Bucco said, and the pizza recipe at Little Sicily's hasn't changed since 1975.

"What has really helped make us successful is our homemade recipes that we have and our customer service," Bucco said. "The only thing we changed was adding a homemade lasagna, and that has become a big seller for us. Our Little Sicily sub is our favorite sandwich; people here just call it 'the sub' because it's so popular."

Good customer service requires having good employees, and Bucco said his employees are like family.

"We have 17 employees right now and I feel like they are my extended family," he said. "Our motto is to let our family serve your family."

Having grown up in the area, Bucco said it is important to him to support the community that has supported him.

"We always support the local schools," he said. "I'm a Groveport graduate and we like to help with car washes and gift certificates to give back.

"We were also invited to participate in a Community Pride event last spring to help spruce up a housing development close by with (Columbus) Mayor Michael Coleman."

One very successful change that Bucco introduced is offering a gluten-free pizza alongside Little Sicily's traditional, time-honored recipe.

"I'm not sure what's causing it, but more and more people seem to have food allergies, so we want to be able to keep serving them," he said. "I'm doing about two to three dozen of these a week now. Of course, our traditional pepperoni pizza is still our mainstay."

Bucco is confident in his food and invites anyone who hasn't been to Little Sicily's to give them a try.

"We've done this successfully for 38 years now without delivery, and that's why we're still the pizza worth the drive," he said.

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