EricS.

barones4

Running out of food during a busy shift proved a fortuitous accident for a tight-knit SoCal Italian family—it was the day they introduced pizza.

barones3In 1945, when Josephine Barone and her husband, Jerry, opened a small restaurant serving sandwiches and pasta in Sherman Oaks, California, she enlisted a small army of brothers and sisters as partners. With Tony, Frank and Mike Arpaia, Joseph Izzo, and Frank Monteleone, six Italian families pitched in and fostered early success. But pizza didn’t make the menu until they ran out of food on a busy day. “Josephine found a rectangular pie pan in the kitchen and put together her mother’s famous recipe for pizza,” explains Mike Monteleone, son of Frank and current owner with sons Michael and Stephan, and wife Stephanie. “People went crazy for it.”

The humble eatery soon expanded to a sprawling facility down the street—a 4,500-square-foot space with banquet area—and business boomed. Family members worked full-time as chefs, bartenders and maintenance men, with their kids chipping in. Eventually, the original pioneers retired, and Mike returned from the real estate biz to help his dad, the last member active, who has since passed away. The original (called Barone’s Famous Italian, now run by Mike’s brother Tom) relocated to Van Nuys in 2006, and in 2008 Mike’s family opened Barone’s Pizzeria, a casual-dining, 1,000-square-foot location in Woodland Hills. Today, a third generation helps lead the charge: Stephan fell in love with restaurants while growing up in the pizzeria and learning the ropes, while Michael, toting a background in marketing and technology, oversees the 2,000-square-foot location in Westlake Village, opened in 2015.


barones1Spreading a wide web over the area for 70-plus years, Barone’s pizza—a thin-crust, rectangular style that combined the family’s Sicilian and Neapolitan heritages—has become famous in SoCal. “We’re not the average California pizza; it’s one-of-a-kind, so word-of-mouth is still the main way we reach new customers,” Mike notes. “We’ve stayed true to those old-school recipes, and we’re committed to making sure that doesn’t change. Once people try us, they’re hooked.”

Now, the Monteleones are looking to expand further, while consolidating the menu to best-selling basics (pizza and salad make up 80% of sales) and scaling down the size of future locations, focusing on delivery and takeout. The goal: one more location this year, and two per year for the next five years. They’re even looking into shipping nationwide on the heels of a November 2016 MSN article that proclaimed Barone’s the No. 1 pizza in California. “We never knew how famous we’d be, and we’re still growing,” Mike concludes. “We’re so blessed to be able to continue the legacy and do something special with it, even today.”

—By Tracy Morin


4 Comments

  1. M MaxxReply
    October 13, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    If your firm can deliver Barone’s pizza to Northern California via FexX or UPS, pls. advise.
    I see several c companies are doing this – I used to go to the Brones on Ventura Blvd., in high school. Wonderful memories.
    Thank you.

    maxx@mcn.org

    • steve monteleoneReply
      November 13, 2018 at 2:42 am

      To M maxx, Glad to hear your still craving our pizza. I’ve shipped pizzas to Tennessee, Florida and drove a ton of frozen to Utah on a ski trip. I lived there for 10 years getting my degree in business ownership, management and marketing also waiting to come home to LA and open the 1st delivery location. So w years of yapping about the best pizza, after a 12 hour drive and after dropping off pizzas to friends and old bosses let me say….. the minute they had a slice they demanded I open there then said, you just ate a frozen pizza so just imagine it fresh!!! So if your interested in having me ship out some pizzas email me “Steve Monteleone” at Baronespizzeria@yahoo.com and we can go from there. The main cost is the shipping cuz we need to next day air them but it’s well worth it. Or call the restaurant at 818-703-1700 and ask for steve and if I’m not in email me or leave contact info and let them know your looking to get pizzas mailed out so I get it. Thanks for your support and hope to get a few pizzas to you ASAP.
      Steve Monteleone Barones Pizzeria WH CA 91364

  2. AaronReply
    April 11, 2019 at 6:55 am

    I too grew up in Sherman Oaks off Woodman Avenue. Then there was the McKinley Home for boys at Woodman and Riverside Drive. We always got Barone’s from the Ventura Blvd location. I don’t get to Los Angeles but I remember that pizza. I went to Robt A. Miliken Jr. High and eventually Grant High School on Oxnard. I went away to the Navy and ended up in San Francisco…now living in Sacramento.

  3. Laura SatherReply
    July 20, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    I used to work at the Barones in Taluca Lake. I remember Tony ,Frank and Rose. I have very good memories of that place. I miss the wonderful pizza is there any way I can have some shipped to Minnesota?

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