‘I wasn’t looking to reopen but I couldn’t let what my father built to go down that way. I knew I had to bring it back.’
“My grandfather and parents were immigrants, I’m first generation. They opened a pizzeria in Amityville in 1969. I’ve been in the pizzeria business all my life. By 10, I could make a pizza for myself, but then one day a customer tells my dad ‘I want a cheese pizza with pepperoni, and I want the kid to make it for me.’ I was shaking, but I made it, and the customer said, ‘you did good,’ and gave me a $10 tip. I felt triumphant and got addicted to the business for life.
“The pizzeria life did consume my family. We were open 365 days a year, from nine in the morning to midnight. The family suffered, but my father didn’t know he was doing something wrong; he’s thinking ‘we have to make money, we have to pay the bills.’ I don’t blame him; this is what he knew. My dad worked from 1969 to 2004, every single day until he was diagnosed with cancer. He tried to work but got weaker, and when the doctors said there was nothing else to do, that was the last day he went to the pizzeria. He went home, got into bed and deteriorated until he was gone. From watching this, I have always known to include balance to have a life.
With all this, my family’s soul is alive, and still lives in the pizza.
“My dad and I had also opened an Italian restaurant together, and I got out of the pizzeria. It ended up changing hands before going out of business badly. I wasn’t looking to reopen but I couldn’t let what my father built go down that way. I knew I had to bring it back, but didn’t know in what form, so I started an underground pizzeria club; just delivery.
“I couldn’t take on many customers at first, but demand spread from Suffolk to Manhattan. It got to the point where I needed help, and after hiring some good talent, now anyone who gets the phone number can use it to order. I’m using my dad’s sauce, my grandfather’s sauce, everything I’m doing here is what they taught me, except with a few tweaks.
“My father, back in Italy, worked in a bakery and knew how to make the peasant bread from that time, so I took that bread aspect and added it to the pizza dough, like preferments and yeasts, and this gives the dough a whole different complexity. Once you add the sauce and the cheese, it just all marries. With all this, my family’s soul is alive, and still lives in the pizza.”