The Leaning Tower Pizza- “The Best Buns In Town” is No Secret!

3 (2)KELLY

All Photos used courtesy of: Kelly

I doubt that when Joe Hess decided to open The Leaning Tower of Pizza shop in Mansfield, Ohio in 1957, he never envisioned the success and sustainability of his new business. Joe probably never thought people over the age of 40 would enjoy his products on a daily basis, become a necessity stop for those moving thousands of miles from Mansfield and returning home to visit. Mr. Hess had no way of knowing his bread would be coined as: “The Best Buns In Town.”

2The Leaning Tower of Pizza is the  second oldest pizza shop, still in business within Ohio. It is an pizzeria landmark of Mansfield, Ohio and home of the largest sandwich in Ohio: the  famous 24″ Submarine Sandwich. The 24″ sub was invented by Joe in 1958 and if you haven’t had one of these monster size delights, you don’t know what you’re missing!

I ordered my usual 24″ Basic Sub  and a Deluxe 8″ Sub  in one of my recent quests to cure my craving for Leaning Tower. The Basic 24″ Sub has Salami, Bologna, Red Pizza Sauce, Mozzarella and Provolone Cheeses. I asked the staff to add Pepperoni and Onions to the giant sub. The Deluxe Sub has: Salami, Bologna, Red Pizza Sauce, Mozzarella Cheese, Provolone Cheese, Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Green Peppers with Hot Peppers being optional.

I was told the subs would be ready in 20 minutes and I proceeded to drive across town to pickup my dinner.


All Photos used courtesy of: Kelly

Veteran Oven Master, Sean, cooked the subs to perfection and when I arrived at the carryout my food was wrapped and bagged. The Leaning Tower of Pizza is decorated with hand-painted murals outside and inside the business. The cobblestone brick floor reminds me of an era gone by. The music within the shop is always trendy, cutting edge or out of the ordinary. While waiting for food on a busy night, it is interesting to sit on the wooden bench seats and enjoy the posters covering the wall. A few of those posters have survived since the 60’s or 70’s. 


All Photos used courtesy of: Kelly

The 24″ Basic Sub was an incredibly delicious adventure with my taste buds wanting to devour the entire sub. I don’t know what their secret is but the sub bread is so soft it melts in your mouth! The bread top appears to have been baked with butter, although the secret to the “The Best Buns in Town” is well-kept. I somehow ate the whole sub. The cheese that melts onto the aluminum foil the sub is wrapped in is always a little treat to pick off the foil and enjoy.

The Deluxe Sub was also a joy to eat and the combination of all the ingredients with the soft buns and ample amount of cheeses simply was to much to finish in one setting.  Leaning Tower food also reheats well in a microwave for the next day. Think of the Deluxe Sub has a deluxe pizza and you’ve pretty much got your tummy full! Somewhat spicy and its rich tomato sauce will have you coming back to The Tower for more!

The Leaning Tower of Pizza menu also has great pizzas and offer various sizes in &”, 11″, 13″, and 15″with a large choice of toppings. The 7″ pizza is only served for lunch on the weekdays between the hours of  11:00 am and 3:00 pm. The Tower also makes an excellent Antepasto Salad which is quite tasty. Sub Sandwiches sizes are 8″, 16″,and 24″. A 8″Meatball sub is also served. 

Sub buns and pizza dough are made fresh and the business in carry-out only.


The staff is courteous, polite and professional.

The Food is great!

The atmosphere is unique!

Privately owned shop provides the same taste for more than 50 years!

The Leaning Tower of Pizza is located at: 180 Lexington Avenue Mansfield, Ohio 44903

Business hours are:

Sunday through Thursday- 11:00am – 10:00pm. 

Friday and Saturday- 11:00 am – 11:00pm.

Phone: 419.525.3462

Call The Leaning Tower of Pizza today and discover why they have- The Best Buns in Town!

5 / 5 stars     


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Jim Carver About Jim Carver

Jim Carver is the President of The Rust Belt Chronicles.

In 2004, Jim graduated from North Central State College with a degree in Business Information Technology. Jim developed "Rock Lines" news report online in 2010.After a trial-run of The Rust Belt Chronicles in April of 2013, Jim decided to make his dream a reality in 2014 by re-launching The Rust Belt Chronicles.


  1. caldwell says:

    where’s hazel? one of the best reasons to go to ” the tower” was to visit with hazel !!!! she was a wonderful woman, always pleasent and polite. but i do have to differ with you on the article. hazel made the best sausage that they seasoned themselves. it was crumbled and spicy, and we joked about hazel’s mood depending on it’s bite. it has long been replaced with a product i don’t care for. please bring back the famous leaning tower sausage……… rip sonya.

    • Anonymous says:

      We use the same recipe

      • caldwell says:

        been going there since ’68, it ain’t the same.

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree – it’s not the same. Born and raised in Mansfield and my entire family LOVED Leaning Tower – but more so when Joe was there. Yes, we still get the pizza and subs but it’s just not the same. I do believe the ingredients have changed – rather, I know they have – and several others agree. Wish they would bring back the old Leaning Tower.

          • I agree! Something is missing. I wish that they would go back to the original sub…I would be willing to pay more for it. Place still isn’t the same…since the fire.

    • Tracey Myers Fast says:

      Yes Hazel made the buns and that was her own recipe. she did not give that up… some Sunday nights she would come in at 3am to start making her dough because Monday was the day we cut and assembled the submarines and I do mean assembled there were 6 of us who put those amazing subs together, some times the buns were still warm… as far as anything else, sausage included we all had the ingredients to make everything else, so if they don’t taste like The Tower subs someone is doing the right thing !! We didn’t have a big turn over

      Yes Hazel was the heart and soul of the buns, a lot of times she would come in on Sunday’s as I was leaving at 2am, to start making the buns, because Monday morning the fun began, there would be 6 of us slicing the buns and putting those babies together, Joe would try to help, but his knees were too bad… when Greg and Maryjane Gemzer took over the business, one of them would join our assembly line…aside from the bun recipe, anyone of us could make the sausage and everything else…I worked at the Tower from my 1st day of my junior year of high school for the next 11 years!! As I finish up here my heart is very heavy… .Joe was not some hippie..dude, he was very well educated and he was sorta my mentor, we had lots of talks about life and the path you take… things I will always remember !! In enter Greg and Maryjane Gemzer, we were like this big ole happy family, I said my heart is heavy, because, Joe and Greg have passed on,,, so to Sylvia and the Hess ladies and MJ ,Noah and girls I wish you all happiness and no, I don’t believe that Greg or MJ have waivered from the tradition !!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love leaning tower subs!! Wish they would ship them.

  3. I painted the original Alfred E Neuman and Leaning Tower Of Pisa sign in 57 and was paid with free pizzas for a year. Also, Joe bought a couple of old hearses for deliveries. My dad owned the Gambles hardware store above the pizza place. A lot of fun back then!

    • Great history story Ray! Glad you were well fed!!!!

    • Sharyl Thomas Weinberg says:

      Ray….I never knew you painted that. Remember Gambles very well. My dad and your dad were great buddies (actually our parents) for many years. Dud and Virginia Always loved Leaning Tower!

    • I worked there for Joe in 1970. It was a great place to work back then. Also, Brenda Hubbard painted the mural above the windows outside but sadly they were painted over not too many years ago.

  4. Nancy Harry says:

    Oh my gosh…just reading about the Leaning Tower of Pizza takes me back to high school in Mansfield! I sure do miss that pizza…and those SUBS!!! Thanks for a lip-smackin’ trip down memory lane. 🙂

  5. You didn’t mention how DELICIOUS the Leaning Tower always smells! Just go stand outside and try not to be tempted, I dare you. I am Joe’s daughter, and I know that while he is long retired, this article will bring him great joy. Besides raising his five children, “raising” the Leaning Tower was like a sixth child to him. I had the joy of working there when I was younger, and actually painted the ‘prices’ and ‘toppings’ signs while I was in high school, which I can see are still there over Sean’s head as he mans the oven. 🙂 I’ve got to have a sub now!

  6. David young says:

    Love leaning towers subs and every time I go back to Mansfield I will get a sub and pizza there!
    I Live in Az,

  7. Bonnie Mollica says:

    Growing up in Mansfield in the 60’s I thought a green pepper was called a “mango” and the hand painted menu agreed with me. Nothing like the Leaning Tower! Still a special treat when I make it bavm into town.

  8. Dave Arnold says:

    I’m now two states away from Mansfield, but this great story brought back a lot of memories, even though I had to stare at the photo to remember exactly where the Leaning Tower was. Seeing the interior shot brought it back home. The only real rival The Leaning Tower had was at Saprano’s Bar on North Main Street. Always had a beer and a slice or two from the Leaning Tower after midnight every Saturday night when I’d get off work at The News Journal, once we had the Sunday paper on the presses and running. But for a quick Friday night dinner with my (then) wife, only the Leaning Tower.

  9. Deana Cantrill says:

    My husband and family are from Mansfield. Every time we visit we have to eat there! It is the absolute best pizza I’ve ever had…. we have even brought several 24″ (6) subs home to California. Sauce and subs packed and put in checked bags.. as soon as we check in luggage at airport,. we run so they won’t ask what’s in the suitcase…lol ♡ wish you could ship. Missing leaning tower lots! I’ve tried to duplicate tgwm but they are never as great as the real thing…

  10. David Ball says:

    I’ve enjoyed Tower subs since the early 1960’s and still enjoy them every time we return to Mansfield. Anyone visiting us when we lived in California, Florida or Kentucky knew to bring along a few subs and a couple of bags of Jones’ Potato Chips. I’ve tried to replicate your pizza sauce (rather complex) but have since lost my version of your recipe… doesn’t matter though, I could never match the taste of your buns!
    See you in a couple of weeks!

  11. I have to say it is definitely the most fabulous pizza outside of NYC!! The current management is fabulous and the staff are fun to watch and see them all interact. Their enjoyment of each other really shines through in the food and the style of the Tower! Thanks and good luck for many many years to come!!

  12. Randall Beecham says:

    I went to Madison schools in the 60’s. There was nothing “cooler” or more “hip” than going to the Leaning Tower. Except maybe going out to “The Balloon Farm” and drinking Boone’s Farm wine in the parking lot.

  13. Harry Sweet says:

    Three of sanded down one of the hearses and primed it gray. It ended up pink.

  14. Sue Timmons says:

    I worked a late shift at the Tower in the early 70’s with Joe and Hazel and it was definitely a different but fun place to work. The clientele, the help, and the owners were an interesting mix of people. I learned a lot about pizza, business, and dealing with the public. An earlier post was correct about the sausage. It was the best. We, too, said the hotness depended on Hazel’s mood. Hazel is retired now and lives in Ashland and I see her occasionally. Lots of good memories from my Tower days.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Sue,
      I remember working with you back in the day. I remember when sausage making day came around the lady in the apartment upstairs would complain the smell permeated her apartment. She once dragged me up to smell it, but couldn’t, she wasn’t a happy camper.

  15. Debbie Komjenovich says:

    OMG Working at the Tower was like a rite of passage for generations of Mansfielders. I worked there in High School on the work half a day program and was in complete charge of orders & cooking from 11 to 3 Monday thru Thurs. Then on Friday’s two of us worked–usually it was Brenda Bird. In those old days nobody worried about work permits for minors or hours worked. During the summer I worked on weekends until 2 a.m. (used to be open until then before Mansfield died) I remember you, Sue Timmons. I worked there 1970 to 71 and then sometime around ’73. My cousin’s son worked there more recently. Still get a sub when I’m back in town.

  16. Love Leaning Tower!! I lived on the same road for a few years. I was pregnant and often stopped for subs. One evening I stopped for a sub to take to my husband working nights and on way home stopped and got one for myself. Joe was there both times. My second trip he laughed when he saw me coming back. Made me sit down to rest. Made my sub for free and gave me a t-shirt to wear once I delivered. Great food, great memories!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Try fast Eddies it is the best I have had all over the US and I have been to 38 states. I personally have not tried leaning tower being as I’m from bellville, but if you want another good pizza fast Eddies is the way to go.

  18. Curt Largent says:

    I remember eating Leaning Tower after school @Johnny Apple seed junior high. I need to come back to relive the look and feel of Leaning Tower, Oh and a sub or 2 also! So many great memories!

  19. Sandy Milum says:

    Our 2015 Christmas present from our Grandson and his family in Alabama was pizza, a bag of Jones chips and a 2 liter of Pepsi from The Tower. He called them and it was hot and ready when we got there with a note on the box that read “from The Bosker and family in BAMA”. Good Stuff!!! Thanks for the Mansfield memories of the past!!!

  20. Hung out there playing pinball when I was young! Remember Joes psychodelic hurse! Great times! Their subs still rock my b0at! 🛥


  1. […] Rust Belt Chronicles has reviewed some exceptional restaurant’s and businesses. We’ve delivered a few controversial events and […]

  2. […] most viewed story in 2014 was the restaurant review of “The Leaning Tower of Pizza” located  in Mansfield, Ohio, with the stunning by our very own Kelly […]

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