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Barone’s Pizzeria

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. In 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…

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Mama Leone’s Italian Restaurant

Over multiple generations, pizza has ignited romances and forged strong family bonds at this mom-and-pop gem in northern Michigan. When 18-year-old Frank Mazzella arrived Stateside from the island of Ponza, Italy, in 1948, he settled in the Bronx in New York, living with relatives, working construction and pitching in at an Italian cafe and pizzeria….

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Sbarro

With a recent top-to-bottom rejuvenation that’s inspiring surging sales, this mall-based megabrand shows that, even after 60 years, you can teach an old dog new tricks. When husband and wife Gennaro and Carmela Sbarro opened their eponymous Italian grocery store in Brooklyn, New York, back in 1956, they could never have imagined the icon Sbarro…

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Vince’s Italian Pizzeria

A true Pacific Northwest original, this “Garlic Gulch” upstart used TV, radio and “buy three, get one free” deals to grow into multiple locations and concepts. In 1957, South Seattle was known as “Garlic Gulch” for its influx of Italian immigrants, but pizzerias hadn’t yet infiltrated the area—until Naples native Vince Mottola Sr. and his…

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Tony’s Place

Employees at this Valparaiso, Indiana, restaurant have clocked decades on the payroll, while customers have included Phyllis Diller and Red Buttons. Fortunately for pizza fans in Valparaiso, Indiana, Anthony Gengo Sr. couldn’t deny his dough-bound destiny. He’d been born into the business; his mother owned a bread company in New York, delivering door-to-door. But when…

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Pizza Inn

Through booms and busts, Pizza Inn has continued to innovate, even as its parent company has expanded into the fast-casual segment. Pizza Inn has come a long way since Joe Spillman opened his first location in 1958 across from the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. But the road has been a pretty rough…

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Zaffiro’s Pizza & Bar

For a small pizza joint with “no ambience,” this shop ranks among Milwaukee’s most popular pizza spots. Liborio “Bobby” Zaffiro owned a tavern in the Italian section of Milwaukee in 1951—until a road trip to the East with friends revealed pizza’s popularity. “At the time, there was only one other pizza place in Milwaukee,” recalls…

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Sammy’s Pizza

Sam and Louise Perrella couldn’t make ends meet in 1954 on Minnesota’s Iron Range—until they discovered the seductive power of pizza. Sammy’s Pizza (mysammys.com), like many other pizzerias, was born of hardship. In 1954, husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Sam and Louise Perrella couldn’t make ends meet with typical jobs, so they decided to open a pizza shop….

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Pizza Hut

As co-founders of the world’s no. 1 pizza chain, Frank and Dan Carney forever altered the pizza industry. Then, Frank veered off in a direction that no one was expecting. When Pizza Hut started in 1958, its name aptly fit the 600-square-foot space into which it was crammed. Two brothers, Frank and Dan Carney, started…

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HUNT BROTHERS PIZZA

Over 50-plus years, Hunt Brothers Pizza has grown from a wholesale pizza route to a c-store powerhouse. In 1962, having grown up working in the restaurant of their father, four brothers—Don, Lonnie, Jim and Charlie Hunt—began a local wholesale food route they named Pepe’s Pizza. At first, they distributed par-baked pizza crusts, dough balls and…