At Lorenzo’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in Oberlin, patrons are welcomed with smiles, the occasional doggy treat and mouthwatering pizzas of both conventional and distinctly unconventional varieties. They have Larry Cariglio to thank for that. Cariglio has owned the friendly joint for nearly 30 years, and he operates it with his wife, Mikelann, better known as Mickey. The Cariglios live in Amherst and have two grown children.

The Neighborhood … and Beyond

Sure, Lorenzo’s is a neighborhood hangout. But the restaurant also draws patrons from the college as well as from Lorain, Elyria, Amherst, Wellington, Grafton and elsewhere. “Oberlin as a town is a big attraction,” says Cariglio. “People are just really drawn to the place.”

A Pizza for Everyone

“I’m a traditionalist, so it’s pepperoni for me,” says Cariglio of his top choice in toppings. “But we make all kinds here. Even vegetarian pies and a non-tomato-sauce chicken pesto. We’ve also perfected a gluten-free pizza for people who can’t have wheat. We use special pans and wear gloves (to avoid wheat contamination).”

Involved in the Community

The Cariglios are known for their community service through Murray Ridge Center, the Lorain Country Board of Developmental Disabilities. “We currently have three employees with learning disabilities,” says Cariglio. “One guy has been with us for 25 years. He does a little of everything. They’re mentally challenged in some ways, but in other areas they excel. They don’t hate. They’re very pleasant to be around.”

Paws on the Patio

No, it’s not a new ingredient. Paws on the Patio is a weekly fair-weather event that’s proved popular. “We’ve got a nice patio that seats 50 or 60. On Mondays in-season we invite diners to bring their dogs. A portion of the night’s proceeds go to the local dog rescue. Everyone has a good time,” says Cariglio.

The Next Lorenzo

Cariglio ponders the issue of succession in his family business. “My daughter Alison is a health educator. Mike is a chef in New York City. I ask him every once in a while when he’s coming back home, but he loves New York.” Naturally, Mike got his start in the culinary arts at Lorenzo’s. “One day he says, ‘I love Friday nights best, when it’s the most hectic.’ I said to him, ‘Son, you gotta be in the business.’ ”