Dunwoodie Pizzeria & Restaurant
This popular Yonkers hangout, celebrating 50 years in 2020, strikes an impressive balance between old-school traditions and of-the-moment innovations.
Only one day after arriving in the United States, Frank Fiorino was already employed at a pizzeria in the Bronx, New York, where the owner, Fred Greco, was a childhood friend in Italy. Soon, the pair became partners for a second spot in Yonkers—Dunwoodie Pizzeria & Restaurant, opened in August 1970—and struck immediate success.
After Greco retired in 2003, Fiorino’s son bought his share of the business, and in 2009, when Fiorino retired, his nephew, Frank Sabatino, swooped in, becoming sole owner in 2017. Sabatino, now 33, had been working in the pizzeria since 16. “I wanted to keep it in the family, because it’s such a staple in the city,” Sabatino recalls. “We have such a loyal clientele. They say, ‘It tastes just like I remember it,’ and that’s my goal—to continue the tradition. It’s something I’m very proud of.”
Pizza, deep-fried calzones and Italian ices remain the business’ foundation, but Sabatino isn’t afraid to expand, experiment and scout other pizzerias for new ideas. The Spicy Square Pizza, with fra diavolo sauce, fresh mozzarella and spicy cup-style pepperoni (inspired by a picture Sabatino saw on Instagram from a New York City pizzeria) won an award this year for the best slice in the county by Westchester Magazine. “Never stop learning—there’s always room for improvement,” Sabatino says. “Check out other businesses, even ones that aren’t doing well. The day you feel you know everything in your business is probably the day you should start considering retirement.”
Community give-back remains important at Dunwoodie, too. The pizzeria regularly works with local high schools, and last Christmas it hosted a toy drive for the children’s hospital. Its “Pizza With a Cop” program, held with the local police department, invited kids to meet with local law enforcement over pies. It’s all part of the pizzeria’s family feel, which extends to customers and employees alike. “You bring an employee into an establishment like this, and it’s like bringing them into your family,” Sabatino explains. “Customers like to see the same faces behind the counter, because they feel like it’s their home as well.”
Likewise, for Sabatino, the pizzeria isn’t just a job—it’s a life. “You’ve got to love this business and have a passion for it,” he concludes. “I don’t count the hours; I make the hours count. I could be here 15 hours a day, and it feels like five. The days fly by when you enjoy what you do.”
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.