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DeLuca’s Restaurant and Pizzeria

This Michigan shop introduced several pizza innovations to Lansing, including the tuna pizza. Opened in 1960, the Willow Bar started out as a neighborhood watering hole for nearby factory workers in Lansing, Michigan. But the pizza they served—developed by Italian immigrants Pat DeLuca and his brother Jim—became so popular the business eventually switched its name…

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Pasquale’s Restaurant and Pizzeria

Since 1954, this pizzeria has thrived on historic Woodward Avenue with authentic, one-of-a-kind pies. We couldn’t tell it any better ourselves, so, for a change of pace, we’ll let the Del Giudice family, owners of Pasquale’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, tell their own story after 55 years of family-style service: “At the height of the pizza…

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Home Run Inn

This pizzeria, named after an errant baseball, has hit home runs in the frozen-food and family markets. Home Run Inn began in 1923 as a small tavern on Chicago’s South Side. Founded by Mary and Vincent Grittani, the tavern received its name when a baseball from the neighborhood park smashed through one of the windows….

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Aurelio’s

This once-modest operation evolved into the self-proclaimed world’s largest pizzeria—and a multistate franchise. Joe Aurelio Jr. started Aurelio’s Pizza in 1959 with a $2,500 loan. Business was initially slow at the little four-seat restaurant; Aurelio kept it afloat through sales of his beef sandwiches—only six or seven pizzas were usually sold in an evening. But…

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Shield’s Pizza

This Motor City institution is passionate about its pizza, but it’s also well-loved by the community for its heart. In 1940s Detroit, pizza was picking up steam as a favorite food. When a former employee of a local pizzeria brought his recipe to the Polish owners of Shield’s Bar, pies were quickly added to the…

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Bill’s Pizza & Pub

Divine intervention played a role in keeping this little Illinois underdog—now famous for its two-crusted Double Decker pies—afloat when it first opened in 1957. When most teens in the ’50s were cruising around town and lining up dates, 17-year-old Bill Kwiatkowski was embarking on entrepreneurship, purchasing a tiny sandwich shack in Mundelein, Illinois. He had…

Ken Petti, with his wife, Almeda, introduced Master Pizza in 1955.

Master Pizza

After nearly 60 years in business, this Cleveland-area pizzeria keeps up with the times through aggressive marketing and social media strategies. Not long after opening Master Pizza (masterpizza.com) in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, in 1955, founder Ken Petti was primed for impressive growth. By 1960, he took on four partners to start franchising—the first business to…

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Donatos

From the start, Donatos founder Jim Grote used precise measurements to ensure consistency and turned the “pizza fad” into a 154-location powerhouse. In 1963, Jim Grote’s dad famously warned him, “This whole pizza thing is just a fad.” But with $1,300 borrowed from his father and future father-in-law, Grote opened his first Donatos (donatos.com) pizzeria…

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La Casa Pizzaria

Founded in 1953, this Omaha, Nebraska, fixture attracts skilled employees with health insurance and tuition assistance, employs social media and recently rolled out a food truck. After husband and wife Joe and Sebastiana Patane had immigrated from Sicily as young adults, Joe made a living as a carpenter, eventually starting his own fixture company in the basement…

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Valentino’s

This beloved Midwest institution started out as a fruit market in a town that knew little about pizza. Val and Zena Weiler owned a fruit market in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the 1950s, but they feared the larger grocery chains would muscle them out of business. Their solution? Open a pizzeria instead! Thus, in July 1957,…