Pizza, pasta and more in a family atmosphere
Chris Johnston feels at home in the kitchen. Whether he’s tending to his homemade Alfredo sauce or mixing up another batch of dough for focaccia or slinging an 18-inch-round pizza crust in the air, he knows the food leaving his aroma-filled kitchen will be top notch.
Chris and his wife, Beth, are the owners of Ohana Pizzeria in downtown Fulton. The family-friendly restaurant opened more than a year ago and has become known for its fresh ingredients and plentiful portions in their made-from-scratch appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas.
The Johnstons are no restaurant rookies. They both bring plenty of culinary bona fides. Chris started working in the culinary field at the age of 16 and never stopped. He’s done everything from delivery driver to bartender to executive chef. Beth has worked more on the front-of-house side of restaurants.
“For both of us it just started out as a first job and turned into our passion,” Beth says. “Our experience is everything from fast food to fine dining.”
Chris and Beth are natives of the greater St. Louis area, where they both advanced in the industry. “We got tired of working for other people,” Chris says. “We wanted to work for ourselves.”
Chris has family ties to Callaway County and they decided to move their family to mid-Missouri to get out of the city. “We were actually looking to start a barbecue place at a different location, but then this building came up,” he says. “We couldn’t pass it up. This is such a beautiful building and it was already set up for pizza. A lot of my background was in Italian food so it made sense.”
Pizzas are the backbone of Ohana’s menu. They offer three types of pizza. The St. Louis style features a paper-thin crust with gooey Provel cheese. New York-style pizzas use Chris’ fresh-made dough and are hand tossed to order with “giant, foldable slices.” And the Chicago style is a traditional pie that is approximately 3 inches deep with Ohana’s signature mozzarella blend covered with toppings and homemade red sauce on top.
You can build your own pizza, but Ohana’s menu offers plenty of specialty options. The Capone is Chris’ favorite and a big seller. The fresh dough gets a base of olive oil and fresh garlic and is topped with a light sprinkle of shredded mozzarella, Volpi salami and prosciutto, sausage, sliced fontina and torn fresh mozzarella on top. The pizza then goes into the 550-degree brick oven and is topped with Parmesan on the way out the kitchen.
“It’s going to be one of the most grown-up meat pizzas you’ll ever have,” Chris says. “Think high garlic, high salt, high flavor.”
If you’re in the mood for something a little lighter, opt for the Pesto Veggie. It features a homemade pesto base with mushrooms, spinach, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and Kalamata olives and mozzarella.
Other mouthwatering options include Da’ Hawaiian with fried Spam and pineapple, the Chicken Alfredo pizza or the Fulton pizza, a meat lover’s pie with 3 1/2-inch round pieces of pepperoni, ham, sausage and slices of bacon.
Looking for your meal between two slices of bread? Better come hungry if you order The Godfather. The base of the sandwich is two slices of fresh-made bread covered with garlic butter and Provel cheese. Then, a 1/2 pound meatball patty that’s been marinating in pizza sauce is baked with mozzarella and pepperoni. Once heated up, the meat, sauce and cheese are placed onto the garlic cheese bread and topped with a pair of Ohana’s hand-breaded mozzarella sticks.
The entire sandwich and a side of fries weighs in at more than 2 1/2 pounds. “This is not going to be for the light hearted,” Chris says. “Think of the most hearty meatball sandwich you’ve ever had with the garlic bread and tons of cheese and pepperoni and a little spice. It’s quite a flavor explosion.”
Other sandwich options include the Turkey Bacon Pesto or the Muffaletta — available either hot or cold — which are both served on focaccia bread.
Six pastas round out the meal options at Ohana, including Penne Alfredo and Seafood Ravioli with lobster, shrimp and scallops. Chris’ favorite is the Tortellini. Cheese-filled tortellini noodles are cooked with peas, prosciutto and mushrooms with Alfredo and is served with garlic bread. “It’s one of the richest, creamiest pastas you can have, in my opinion,” Chris says. “With great undertones of the prosciutto and earthiness of the mushrooms mixed in.”
If your appetite just doesn’t have time to wait for your pizza to cook, there are plenty of appetizer options at Ohana Pizzeria. The most popular are the spinach artichoke dip served with pita wedges or the chicken wings, which are marinated for four days, smoked and then fried to order and tossed in mild, medium, hot or barbecue sauce.
The past 18 months have been a whirlwind for the Johnstons, members of Callaway Electric Cooperative. Once they acquired the building, they started down the path of opening their family-friendly — Ohana is a Hawaiian word for family — pizzeria chock full of games and places for guests to interact. They opened the doors on Valentine’s Day 2020 and less than one month in were forced to close to guests due to COVID-19. The bar and tables sat empty. The arcade games and pool tables went unused. “It was a pretty major blow only three weeks in,” Beth says. “Our vision had to change like any other business did. We had to take it day by day.”
The community supported the new restaurant through the pandemic and took notice of the quality ingredients and cooking techniques that give Ohana Pizzeria its unique flavors.
“We knew if we wanted to be set apart from every other restaurant, we had to do it from scratch,” Chris says. “That’s how Mama did it. That’s how the old Italian cooks did it. Our fresh ingredients and doing things from scratch is a large part of what draws people here.”
Specialties: Thin-crust St. Louis-style, Chicago-style and hand-tossed New York-style pizzas including Capone, Da’ Hawaiian, Buffalo Chicken and Fulton. Pastas including tortellini and seafood ravioli. Sandwiches including The Godfather and hot or cold Muffaletta. Appetizers including homemade mozzarella sticks, spinach artichoke dip and chicken wings.
Price: Appetizers from $4.50 to $11. Sandwiches and pasta from $9 to $14. Pizzas from $6 to $23.50.
Details: Open Tuesday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday. Cash and credit cards accepted. Located at 61 W. Second St. in Fulton. Contact at 573-826-3240, firstname.lastname@example.org and www.ohanapizzeria.com.