When Luigi and Filamena “Fannie” Tozzi opened their tavern for working men in Magnolia 104 years ago, they served lunches and sold general store type items to blue-collar workers.
“My grandfather ran it until my dad and his brothers came back from World War II,” said David Tozzi.
Tozzi’s father, Michael Tozzi, worked with siblings Tony and Nick. Tozzi’s Uncle Joe and Aunt Rose also helped run the establishment, as did Tozzi’s Aunt Nellie and Aunt Nettie.
“Mom and dad got married in 1947, and she started to help out more,” Tozzi said.
Tozzi’s mother, Helen Tozzi, became even more involved in the eatery in the middle of the 1960s, when the family opened the upstairs portion of the restaurant, a part of the building that previously had served as a ballroom, booking Big Band orchestras in the 1920s and 1930s.
The business “took off,” Tozzi said, and his mother eventually became the driving force behind the business. During the years that followed her husband’s death in 1980, until Helen Tozzi herself passed in 2006, the matriarch was the mainstay in the kitchen, cooking steaks and pasta dishes while teaching the restaurant business to her children David, Michael and Louie.
Now, Tozzi’s children, son Gino and daughters Taliana and Juliana, work in the restaurant, and wife Dina helps out when needed.
The restaurant has evolved over the years. The downstairs was remodeled in the 1980s, and the upstairs area of the restaurant was turned into a banquet room that was used until 2008. A fire closed the restaurant in 2011, and for a handful of years, Tozzi and his wife operated a bar and a restaurant in downtown Canton. They returned to their familiar village surroundings in 2015 to reopen Tozzi’s in Magnolia.
The changes, however, have only served to bolster the reputation of a restaurant that has prospered for decades. Photographs hanging throughout the restaurant look back nostalgically to times past in Magnolia, and artifacts sitting on a ledge illustrate a lifestyle that hasn’t truly gone by—at least in the minds of Tozzi’s patrons.
And then there is the Tozzi’s menu, which is familiar and faithful to the enduring tastes of longtime Tozzi’s dinner guests.
“We have many great things on the menu, but our steaks have been popular for years,” said Tozzi, who said that the steaks these days are prepared by chef Mark Green. “I’m partial to the fillets and strip steaks, but we have an excellent bone-in rib-eye.”
Seared scallops are a second favored entree of a huge contingent of regular patrons, and a third signature dish is the Tozzi’s seasoned lasagna.
“It’s got a garlic-based seasoning, and it’s my mom’s recipe,” Tozzi said. “She taught it to me.”
The lasagna is just another little legacy that has helped Tozzi’s in Magnolia make a big mark on the landscape of area restaurants.
2. Steak Filet. “We have great quality meat, certified Angus, and a lot of it is Ohio produced. But, it’s our seasoning that gives it that special flavor.”
3. Seafood Pasta. “It’s got an abundance of seafood, with huge shrimp, clams, and, of course, the scallops. It’s one of my personal favorites.”
Tozzi’s of Magnolia, owned by David “Duke” Tozzi and his wife, Dina, has a geographical tie to the past, of course. The restaurant at 144 N Main Street, Magnolia, is in the same location in the village where Tozzi’s grandparents ran a bar and store for miners and brick workers beginning in 1914.
Tozzi’s on 12th, operated by Michael “Mike” Tozzi and his wife, Chris, for more than a decade, reaches far back for many of its menu items. Tozzi cooked at the family’s Magnolia restaurant before he headed off on his own in 2007. And he brought many of the family restaurant’s featured dishes—along with the skills he learned at the side of his parents—with him to the Canton location at 4210 12th Street NW near Whipple Avenue.
“We’re two separate restaurants,” said David Tozzi, “with different menus,” added Michael Tozzi. Still, there is a link between them that spans generations. And there is a name on the signs of both restaurants that remains familiar in the community.
The brothers agree that the restaurants share a history and a legacy that has been passed down through their family over more than a century.