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Behind the Menu | Famous ranch dressing just one plus at JT’s Pizza & Pub

By Gary Seman Jr. For The Columbus Dispatch
Originally posted from The Columbus Dispatch

Joe Hartnett says people love his house-made ranch dressing so much they’ve asked him to bottle it.

And while that might be an option in the future, he’s content to use it as a garnish on any number of dishes at JT’s Pizza & Pub on the Northwest Side.

“You can’t beat it. It’s a night-and-day difference” from the store-bought stuff, he said.

Ranch is one of the ingredients in his speciality wing sauce, along with garlic butter, barbecue and hot sauce. Wings are $5.95 for six, or $10.95 for 12. Hartnett offers a total of 16 wing sauces and three dry rubs.

Hartnett opened JT’s in 2007, starting as a carryout with delivery and serving as the house restaurant for the Bier Stube located next door. When the bar went on sale last year, Hartnett and a silent partner snatched it up, opening as JT’s Pizza & Pub in November.

“It was great,” he said. “I saw the potential.”

He refreshed the 2,400-square-foot interior and recreated a 3,000-square-foot patio, which features a stage for live music.

Improved quality control was one of the byproducts of taking over the Bier Stube.

“This is nice because now we can control the atmosphere,” Hartnett said.

JT’s serves an unabashed Columbus-style pizza, with a thin, crackly crust and cut into squares. The sauce, he said, is a slightly sweet, well-balanced mix of herbs and spices and is mixed fresh several times a day.

“To me, sauce is one of the most important things on pizza,” he said. “It’s where all of your flavor is.”

Pies come in 10-, 12- and 14-inch sizes. Customers can choose the ingredients or pick a signature style — such as the popular Big Al, which is topped with pepperoni, banana peppers, fresh sausage and extra cheese.

Calzones, including the meat-lovers version ($11.50), are also available.

Hartnett has changed up the menu recently, taking off burgers and some sandwiches and adding a number of fresh salads, including the grilled chicken Caesar ($7 for a small, $8 for a large).

“When it’s warmer, people eat a little lighter,” he said.

Hartnett touts his hoagie buns – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside – as the perfect setting for the Italian sub ($7.50).

Another house favorite is the hand-cut fries ($3 for a small, $4 for a large) that are twice-fried and crunchy. And yes, Hartnett said, ranch dipping sauce is an option.