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Augie’s Pizza

Starting with one modest location, a former WWII ski paratrooper and his wife crafted a remarkable pizzeria lineage for their family over three generations. After arriving in the States as a teenager, Augie D’Amicone, raised in the mountainous Abruzzo region of Italy, was drafted for the U.S. Army as part of the 10th Mountain Division,…

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LaRosa’s

This entrepreneurial owner transformed $400 and a dream into a pizzeria empire. The year was 1954, and ex-Navy man Buddy LaRosa knew he wanted to start his own business. When he started selling his Aunt Dina’s pizza at church festivals and received an overwhelming response, he put his $400 savings (convincing a few partners to…

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Mario’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

Mario Simoni quit his day job at General Motors to start a new life in the pizza business. Mario Simoni worked days at a General Motors plant and nights at a friend’s pizzeria when he decided to strike out on his own. An Italian immigrant, he opened Mario’s Restaurant & Pizzeria in Flint, Michigan, in…

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Little Caesars

Michael and Marian Ilitch took a chance on a little-known snack food called pizza and built a carryout empire. When Michael and Marian Ilitch opened a single pizza shop in Garden City, Michigan, with their $10,000 life savings, they were taking a chance on a little-known snack food called pizza—and on a carryout-only model that…

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Domino’s Pizza

James Monaghan sold his share in DomiNick’s—precursor to the world’s second-largest pizza chain—to brother Tom for a Volkswagen Beetle. With a $75 down payment and a loan of $500, brothers Tom and James Monaghan bought their first pizza store, called DomiNick’s, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1960. James ended up selling his stake in the company…

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Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant

It’s hip to be square at this Detroit-area institution, whose owner helped pioneer the city’s legendary square style. In 1944, Gus Guerra formed a partnership with his wife Anna’s uncle to open Buddy’s Rendezvous in Detroit—at first a bar only. “Profits from the bar business weren’t enough to live on, so Grandma Passalacqua told my…

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Buddy’s Rendezvous Pizza

According to legend, a Buddy’s waitress from Sicily invented the square pizza that would become forever associated with Detroit. When Buddy’s Rendezvous Pizza (buddyspizza.com) served its first pie in 1946, the Detroit (and U.S.) pizza scene was forever changed. Legend has it that a Sicily-born waitress named Connie, employed by then-owner Gus Guerra, developed the…

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Bruno’s Pizza

Pizza’s just one item on the menu at this Indiana mainstay founded in 1955. Anyone up for Wiener schnitzel and Swiss fondue? Bruno Itin moved from Switzerland to Indiana in 1951 and, after a few years as a restaurant worker, decided to open his own venture in 1955: Bruno’s Pizza in West Lafayette. “My dad…

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Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria

From humble beginnings in a Chicago saloon, this South Side pizzeria continues, now in its fifth generation, as a family affair. Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria (vitoandnick.com) has its roots in a saloon, Vito’s Tavern, that Sicilian immigrant Vito Barraco started in the early 1920s. He added food to the menu—sandwiches and spaghetti at first—in 1939….

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Rosati’s Pizza

Starting with a family patriarch who served flatbreads to Al Capone in the 1920s, this Illinois-based pizzeria has grown to nearly 200 locations in 14 states. As with many Italian families, the Rosati clan’s roots run deep. In the 1920s, Italian emigrant Silvario Rosati served Pizza A’Olia—a flatbread with garlic and oil—as a pre-meal treat…