A Gainesville Classic
It’s a cool October night and the Gators football team just beat their opponent in an afternoon game with thousands of alumni and fans in the stands. The comradery that fills the Gainesville scene is electric with students singing as they walk along University Avenue and alumni joining together to celebrate the win of their favorite team. Or imagine it’s a late night of studying at one of the University’s major libraries, preparing for exam week that always seems to approach quickly. As a Gainesville local, resident, or visitor, there’s only one stop for authentic, nostalgic, and oh-so delicious food, no matter the occasion: Leonardo’s Pizza.
Kyle Cohan, a graduate from the University of Florida, bought the restaurant in 2018 and never looked back. Despite the detours and hardships of the past year, Cohan and his team members have continued to thrive in Gainesville because of Leonardo’s nostalgic presence and purely good food that resonate with UF students and locals. The unique and mouth-watering menu, most famous for its cheesy deep-dish Chicago-style pizza, has something for everyone and leaves you excited for your next meal at the welcoming restaurant.
The Mouth-Watering Menu
It all started in 1976 when Leonardo’s opened in Gainesville. From then on, the crowds have loved the pizza, sandwiches, dinner plates, and atmosphere that eating at Leonardo’s encompasses. The locally owned and operated restaurant has a unique family-feel to it, with food cooked with love and authenticity, just like your grandmother’s.
Leonardo’s menu starts right off with their famous pizzas. With generous portions of toppings, from pepperoni and sausage to carrots and pineapple, their pizza is unrivaled in the Gainesville area. The thick crust has a crunchy bottom that rises into a fluffy middle and topped with an original red sauce and overflowing with cheesy goodness. Available in three sizes or by-the-slice, this Italian staple is customizable and will be sure to have you back for more!
Their most coveted pizza, the Big Leo, is topped with sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and pepperoni. Generously piled on top of the tender crust and delicious sauce, the Big Leo is a Leonardo’s classic that draws crowds and returns customers back.
In addition to their renowned pizza, Leonardo’s also serves classic garlic knots that pair so well with their home-made lasagna, chicken parmesan, calzones, sandwiches, and meatballs. On the healthier side, Leonardo’s has an extensive Italian-inspired salad bar and vegan-friendly options.
To top off your meal and get a fun night started, Leonardo’s serves an array of beers and house wines. With multiple draft beers and bottled options, as well as house wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, there’s plenty of options to stay refreshed and help the food go down quicker!
It’s More Than Pizza
Leonardo’s has been in the Gainesville community for years, and their reach is beyond serving customers and guests. As a part of the menu, Leonardo’s offers pizza by the slice. By the end of the night, depending on the day, the store often has left over pieces, amounting to about $30,000 a year in inventory and sales. Motivated by community outreach and passion for others, rather than consider it trash, Cohan and his team at Leonardo’s donate the remaining pizza to homeless shelters.
Another part of Leonardo’s community impact is involvement with schools, youth groups, and churches, to host “spirit nights”.
“I donated 10% of sales and donate to whatever group that we’re working with…I do 10% of sales for the entire day…In 2019, we did about $12,000 or so in raising money for people for school, there’s one thing to know, when I talk about making external impacts, is that it lets people know that I’m a part of the community.” – Kyle Cohan, Leonardo’s Owner
And that’s why at Leonardo’s, they believe it’s more than pizza. Between the strong family-friendly environment, welcoming staff, and eagerness to be involved, Leonardo’s serves the Gainesville community by filling our bellies with food made with love.
Amid the pandemic, Leonardo’s has limited dine-in seating options and has pickup, curbside, or delivery options. The team is working to recover from COVID-19 and bring back full-capacity dining options for the Gainesville community. Cohan and the staff at Leonardo’s are eager to get back to the pre-quarantine environment and operations to continue serving amazing food to great people.
Every interaction throughout the process of reopening and rebuilding with COVID restrictions is different, but Leonardo’s is slowly working towards full recovery.
“But once we’re all vaccinated, and we can feel more comfortable, with more interactions…then we’ll start seeing all the tables…” – Kyle Cohan, Leonardo’s Owner
More Fun to Come
Leonardo’s is always looking for ways to bring family, fun, and food together, and a new challenge they’re bringing to the restaurant is the ‘Family Feast’. As an eating challenge for two, guests who opt-in on this fun-filled meal will receive a large, three-topping pizza, an order of rolls, and a pitcher of their drink of choice.
Totaling to be about seven pounds of food, this eating challenge is posed to any local or visitor who loves pizza and has a big appetite!
Ordering Leonardo’s has never been easier - or safer - than it is now with Byppo! As a Gainesville classic and college student staple, Leonardo’s pizza can be ordered right from your couch and delivered right to your doorstep with the convenience of Byppo’s services. We look forward to seeing you soon!