Aldo’s II Pizzeria & Restaurant
A slice-and-soda combo cost 25 cents and a large pie was just a buck when this beloved pizzeria opened in Ozone Park, New York, more than 50 years ago.
Aldo Calore, owner of Aldo’s II Pizzeria & Restaurant in Ozone Park, New York, entered the pizza business at 16 years old, working at New Park Pizza in nearby Howard Beach. But after getting married at 21, he knew it was time to branch out on his own. So in 1962 he opened Aldo’s, a neighborhood pizzeria with affordable prices (back then, a slice-and-soda combo cost 25 cents, and a large pie was just a buck). Today, despite rising costs for ingredients, he still maintains a reasonably priced menu. “Some things have gotten very expensive over the years, but pizza is supposed to be cheap, something that anyone can afford,” says Calore, who still tries to keep his prices relatively low for his guests.
Luckily, customers already knew him as a pizza maker at New Park, so he never had to advertise and still has a steady stream of regulars returning for the pizza they grew up with. Aldo’s sells both thin-crust and Sicilian pies, but chicken rolls are also among its bestsellers. Fried calzones, now a hit in trendy Manhattan pizzerias, have been popular at Aldo’s for years. With two sides to the business—an Italian restaurant and a pizzeria—families can choose a casual setting or a more formal sit-down dining experience, and catering has also proven a hit with customers. “Something always comes up in the pizza business, but we just do our best and try to please everybody,” says manager Gino Gabrielli, Calore’s son-in-law, who’s been working at the pizzeria for 25-plus years.
Now, the next generation is learning the ins and outs of the pizzeria: Gabrielli’s son and nephew both work in the business. But after more than a half-century in the business, Calore himself retired from pizza-making in late 2014. In a Queens Chronicle story about Calore’s retirement, Ozone Park Civic Association president Howard Kamph said he had fond memories of Aldo’s and its owner. “My night out was going to his restaurant,” he recalled. “He gave me the biggest portion for the price.” –Tracy Morin