When the world gets noisy and annoying, I like to go someplace blissfully bereft of pretension, hype and scenemakers. Someplace where the beers are cheap, cold and ridiculously huge. Where the popcorn is free and I can root for LeBron and the CBJs on big TVs. Where the excellent pizza and game-changing Reuben proudly star homemade meats. That's when I like to go to Villa Nova.

When the world gets noisy and annoying, I like to go someplace blissfully bereft of pretension, hype and scenemakers. Someplace where the beers are cheap, cold and ridiculously huge. Where the popcorn is free and I can root for LeBron and the CBJs on big TVs. Where the excellent pizza and game-changing Reuben proudly star homemade meats. That’s when I like to go to Villa Nova.

Unlike weather, fashion and restaurant trends, Villa Nova doesn’t change. No, this retro-fixated bastion of red sauce just keeps chugging along pretty much as it has since opening in 1978. If you’ve ever driven past its permanently packed parking lot, you’ll realize innumerable locals appreciate Villa Nova’s bygone aesthetic.

It’s a bit wacky inside — what with the walls crammed with brass kettles in the main dining room and occupied by marine pressure gauges behind the large octagonal bar. I always sit with the gauges.

After taking a load off with an immense liter of won’t-clash-with-food, neutral domestic beer ($5 for Yuengling), I rip into that pizza and/or Reuben.

The pizza is Classic Columbus at its best. That means perfectly cooked and with a bright, fresh and semi-sweet tomato sauce above a snappy and thin, crackery crust that won’t sag under the weight of toppings (an 11-inch, two-item is $11.50).

Speaking of toppings, since the sausage and meatballs are housemade, you gotta go with those. The former arrives crumbled and tastes porky and a little racy from black pepper and fennel seed.

The meatballs arrive chopped into plump clumps and oven-browned. They’re gently flavored with herbs and garlic.

Unlike about 98 percent of the Reubens in town, Villa Nova’s standout version ($8.50, with fries and a pickle) stars tender and thinly sliced housemade corned beef. What a difference.

Instead of a processed vehicle for salt and fat, Villa Nova’s corned beef is fresh, juicy, lean, and refreshingly still resembles its beef brisket origins — albeit lightly scented with clove, caraway, bay leaf and pepper. As expected, it’s served on grilled marbled rye with kraut and melted Swiss cheese — a rich and pickly thousand island dressing comes in a DIY side cup.

Photo by Meghan Ralston