Classic Columbus-style pizzas are the star at a famed local pizza chain's newest sports bar venture

The Massey (originally Masucci) family restaurant legacy began in 1949, when a Grandview Heights eatery became one of the first Central Ohio businesses to offer something rare in most of America at that time: pizza. Having weathered the fickle tastes of local diners more than seven decades, pioneering Massey's Pizza has secured its place as a Columbus culinary institution.

While the company's crisp, rectangular-cut, archetypal Columbus-style of pizza crust might not have changed much through the years, Columbus has become a vastly different city since those post-World War II days. So I take it as a sign of the times that Massey's — which still maintains a 10-shop pizzeria chain — lately has ventured into the sports-pub racket.

The Massey's Pizza Sports Bar & Wings that recently opened in the Graceland Shopping Center, the subject of this review, joins same-named siblings in Heath, Grove City and Canal Winchester. Patrons walking into the cavernous Graceland establishment are met with a nondescript, spare space with red walls and utilitarian appointments. In essence, TVs serve as its major design element.

A decent selection of Ohio-produced beverages is included in the more than 20 brews on tap. Skinflint tip: Large-capacity imbibers can upgrade from a pint to a 22-ounce pour for an extra dollar.

Not surprisingly, the pizzas are the menu's highlight. Chiefly, this is because the herb-sprinkled pies begin with Massey's extra-thin, cornmeal-dusted, dark-and-flat-edged crust, which delightfully snaps when you bite into it. Toppings are generally placed atop a moderately applied layer of good-quality melted cheeses; underneath is Massey's sweet-yet-zippy “old world” tomato sauce.

Several specialty pizzas are offered, but I highly recommend starting with Massey's duly menu-ballyhooed pepperoni pizza. Rocking a “more is more” aesthetic, every 12-inch pie ($14; $15.75 with the addition of banana peppers, the way I like it) is advertised as containing a whopping 110 pepperoni. When the wonderfully crunchy pizza arrives absolutely packed with delicious, mostly crisp pepperoni, you might think it has 210 little salami discs on it.

Massey's tender, garlic-scented, fresh-tasting house-made sausage is another terrific pizza topping ($14 for a 12-inch pie; $15.75 with banana peppers as well). But if you like onion on your pizza — I do — be forewarned that the enormous portion on my pie was half-raw, possibly to ensure the all-important crust was perfectly cooked.

Another strong pizza topping — old-school, house meatballs tasting of beef and cheese and mellowed with breadcrumbs — is also available as a satisfying appetizer (four for $6), nicely accessorized with tomato sauce and plenty of melted cheese.

My quickie review of the huge Five Star House Salad ($8) enlivened with bacon and gorgonzola: It's more like a two-star salad. The so-so Nachos Deluxe ($10) topped by a de facto salad — plus chili, cheese sauce, jalapenos and more — is a better option.

Massey's wings (five for $4.49) are OK. I preferred the flour-dredged boneless version over the “traditional” breaded bone-in wings, if only because the latter arrived amid a puddle of oil. My favorite sauce was the fiery-but-flavorful “Cajun garlic.”

The Great Guido Supreme ($8) is a solid submarine sandwich, but menu claims of “extra meat and cheese” made me wonder how weak a non-supreme Great Guido sub ($7) would be — my supreme had the minimal amount of fillings to qualify as a worthwhile sub.

The Monster Burger ($8) was a pleasant surprise. It's nothing fancy, just a thick, hand-formed, mammoth patty seared on a griddle, put in a good bun and topped with a choice of melted cheese — cheddar works great — plus the usual garnishes. Like this Massey's operation, it's a welcome old-fashioned classic given a contemporary sports-bar remodel.