John’s Restaurant and Pizza

When his dad wrangled him to wash dishes at the family pizzeria one night, Joe Persi, Jr. didn’t know he was signing up for a lifetime in pizza. Sound familiar? When his father wrangled him to wash dishes at the family business one night, Joe Persi Jr. didn’t know he was signing up for a…



From unlikely franchisee to pizza kingpin, Arni Cohen remained true to his core principles: supporting customers and communities. Arni Cohen, a journalism and history major in college, might have seemed an improbable pizza entrepreneur, but he was no foodservice newbie, having worked since 14 at his uncle’s fine-dining restaurant. By 1965, in his early 30s,…


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….


Martino’s Italian Villa

With no help from the banks and six kids at home, Frank and Angela Martino grew their little 20-seat pizza shop into a sprawling 300-seater in just 10 years. Little did Angela Martino know that Frank, her neighbor and brother’s best friend in Italy, would become her husband years later, well after both had landed…


Mandee’s Pizza

This Salem, Massachusetts, pizzeria effortlessly balances the old- and new-school, remaining a first adopter of technologies without sacrificing customer face time. Emanuel Distefano went by the name of “Man Dee,” the moniker that inspired his pizzeria in Salem, Massachusetts, back in 1962. Around 1975, he passed the reins to a local college professor, Chuck Stasio,…


DiCarlo’s Original Pizza

Big-name and small-town pizza buffs alike are avowed fans, but the DiCarlo family cherishes first-time customers above all else. Italian immigrants Michael and Caroline DiCarlo didn’t originally set out to helm a pizzeria that would thrive through the decades. In fact, pizza wasn’t even on their radar when they opened an Italian grocery store in…


Marion’s Piazza

From its start in 1965, this dine-in dynasty has become the epitome of Dayton-style pizza while hosting a slew of celebs—we’re talking Zsa Zsa Gabor, dahling! Since 1938, Marion Glass had owned an ice cream and sandwich shop in Dayton, Ohio, but when he spotted increasing competition from burger-toting carhops, he sought the next big…

secane preview pizza hall of fame


When Philip Bottos wanted to branch out at his hoagie operation in Secane, Pennsylvania, pizza slinging family members in Massachusetts inspired him to establish Secane Pizza with partner John Kokalis in 1966. With a dream location next to the town’s post office, the small shop (less than 1,000 square feet) introduced a simple menu of…

Sbarro pizza hall of fame pic


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…

salvatores preview

Salvatore’s Pizza

Decades before food trucks flooded the streets, an enterprising husband and wife peddled slices on the go in western New York—and, 60 years later, the tradition continues. When the eldest daughter of Italian immigrants Salvatore and Philomena “Flo” Butera suggested turning their successful grocery store into a pizzeria (predicting that the new teen-fave snack food…