Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria, Rosina’s Meatball Cafe, coffee shop, nail salon and opening of Luke Oil; Phantom Fireworks temporarily closed

Gelsosomo’s, one of the biggest names in pizzeria in the region, has expanded to downtown Griffith.

The purveyor of tavern-style square pizza has opened at 106 N. Broad St. on the busy corner of Main and Broad Streets in Griffith. It carved out half of the former Twincade space, which also opened True BBQ, the upscale barbecue restaurant with locations in Munster and Crown Point.

Gelsosomo’s started in Portage in 1979 and has since expanded to 10 restaurants, including Chesterton, Valparaiso, Michigan City, Crown Point, Schererville and St. Joseph, Michigan. There are also pizzerias in Lemont and Macomb, Illinois.

Founder Tom Gelsosomo comes from an Italian family in the Roseland neighborhood, once an Italian enclave on the South Side of Chicago. He cut his teeth working in restaurants in the 1970s and decided to open his own pizzeria in Portage at a time when the city was experiencing rapid population growth.

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Gelsosomo’s Pizza grew into an institution that was named Porter County’s Best Pizza in 1989 and Northwest Indiana’s Best Pizza in 1991. It supports churches, unions, non-profits and youth sports such as Little League and basketball. It began franchising in 1990, expanding first to Chesterton and then to the Innman’s Recreation Center in Valparaiso before opening a full-service restaurant there.

Gelsosomo’s continued to grow, converting a train depot on historic Silver Beach in St. Joseph into Gelsosomo’s in 2005.

It serves calzones, Italian beef sandwiches, ribs, salads like Italian antipasto salad, and pastas like mostaccioli and fettuccini alfredo. Pizza options include seven cheese, Calabrese, Veggie, Buffalo Chicken, BBQ Chicken, BLT, Mediterranean and Hot & Spicy with Meatballs, Italian Beef, Pepperoncini, Ortega Peppers and Hot Giardini.

The Popeye pizza features fresh spinach while the toppings are loaded with sausage, pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, green peppers and mozzarella. Pizzas range from 10 inches in diameter for small to 15 inches in diameter for large.

The extensive list of entrees includes Buffalo Fried Zucchini, Fried Mushrooms, Fried Pickle Chips, Fried Cheese Ravioli, Garlic Bread, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Tommy G’s Garlic Cheese Bread, Tommy G’s Link Sausage and Meatballs and — it goes without saying — the wings that pizzeria owners say now make up a huge part of the delivery business.

Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria in Griffith offers lunch and dinner, as well as takeout, delivery and online ordering.

It joins a crowded downtown Griffith pizzeria that also includes longtime staples Squigi’s Pizza of Griffith, John’s Pizzeria Restaurant, TD’s Express Pizza, Villa Pizza and Bridge’s Scoreboard.

Gelsosomo’s is open from 3pm to 10pm Monday to Saturday and from 3pm to 9pm on Sundays.

For more information, visit or call 219-356-0220.

Open up

Rosina’s Meatball Cafe now serves a wide variety of meatballs in downtown Griffith.

The new restaurant makes fresh batches of meatballs daily and stays open until sold out. Options include traditional beef, spicy Italian sausage, combination beef and spicy Italian sausage, gluten-free chicken, and vegetarian mushroom and rice meatballs.

Available in custom bowls with your choice of meatball type, sauce and base. One can choose from thick red sauce, meat sauce, cheddar cheese sauce, spicy barbecue sauce and mushroom sauce over canapes of penne pasta, jasmine rice or white cheddar mashed potatoes. Toppings for a little extra include pepperoni, pepperoncini, cheese, bacon crumbles, banana peppers, and fresh or sauteed onions, mushrooms, and peppers.

Sandwich options include meatball paninis, meatball sliders and, of course, meatballs, as well as several other Italian options.

Rosina’s Meatball Cafe also serves soups, salads and sides like broccoli, bruschetta and mac and cheese.

Dawn Ayers-Jania and her husband Geoff Jania opened the restaurant using old family recipes passed down from her great-grandmother Rosina. She is originally from Calabria in Italy, immigrated to New York and dreams of opening her own restaurant one day.

This is a small quick service restaurant that offers takeout and seats about 18 to 20 inside. An outdoor patio in the back will be added later this year.

Rosina’s Meatball Cafe is located at 126 N. Griffith Boulevard, across the street from Bridge’s Scoreboard and next to SerenDIPity Ice Cream Parlor, which can’t be missed for its huge Instagrammable bench and colorful ice cream cones.

Ayers-Yania, a native of Michigan, decided to open her own restaurant because of all the praise she received for her cooking over the years. People often raved about the meatballs she made from recipes passed down through generations, and she hoped the unique accent would make the place appealing.

Rosina’s Meatball Cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, visit, call 219-301-7834 or find the business on Facebook.

coming soon

Refuge Coffee, which just opened in the former Pop’s/Taco Bell on Main Street in Crown Point, plans to expand to St. John later this year.

Yotam Torres and his wife Chelsea Torres, a French-trained pastry chef, previously owned Cafe Lacuna in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. The Puerto Rican couple moved from Hyde Park to Northwest Indiana several years ago in part because of the Spanish immersion program for their children at Crown Point Christian School.

The cafe features a full espresso bar, a range of coffee drinks, chai lattes and food such as a lox sandwich, grilled chicken sandwich and bagel pizza. He raises his own chickens and makes his food at a commissary in Highland.

“We’re focused on people,” Yotam Torres said. “We love people and guest service. We were on the other side of the bar. We have clean bathrooms and skilled baristas who move quickly. You know where our ingredients come from. Nothing we do is simple. We do things traditionally, do things fresh and do things very intentionally.”

Refuge Coffee strives to take care of its employees as well.

“We’re trying to offer a long-term career,” he said. “We want employees to learn and stay with us indefinitely as we grow our enterprise. We want to help them become leaders. We promote from within.”

Refuge Coffee aims to offer its customers a fair deal, such as 12 ounces of iced coffee as promised instead of a cup full of ice, Torres said. It also aims to encourage getting outside by having comforting, nostalgic decor like the wallpaper one would see in their grandmother’s house as a child.

The cafe is working on opening a second location on US 41 in St. John, where it is negotiating a lease for a location near the new Wendy’s restaurant.

“We’re trying to offer a great experience,” he said. “Our prices are competitive, cheaper or the same as Starbucks and Dunkin. We want to see you five times a week. We want to be a part of your lifestyle.”

For more information, visit

Open up

Queen Nails & Spa offers salon services south of US 30.

The nail salon opened last year at 155 E. Elizabeth Drive in Schererville. Offers manicures, pedicures, eyebrow waxing, other salon services and general care in a relaxing environment.

Queen Nails & Spa is open from 7.30am to 7.30pm Monday to Saturday and from 11am to 5pm on Sundays.

For more information, call 219-334-3732.

Open up

Luke Oil, one of the largest gas station chains in the region, has opened a new location in the heart of Valparaiso.

Hobart-based Luke Builds LLC built a new 3,520-square-foot gas station and convenience store at 815 Lincolnway, just east of downtown Valpo.

Construction cost about $545,846, according to the city of Valparaiso building permit.

The gas station is open every day from 5 am to 10 pm.


Phantom Fireworks in Highland is temporarily closed after a fire last weekend.

The roof caught fire at the fireworks store at 8843 Indianapolis Blvd.

The chain claims to be one of the largest fireworks retailers in the state. It also has locations in Merrillville, Burns Harbor and South Bend.

If you would like your business featured in a future column, email [email protected].

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