Rizzo’s Fine Pizza: Feeding Astoria for 60 Years
By Ilija Sekulovski
We have to admit, we’re pretty proud. Rizzo’s is in Astoria main stay – they’ve been around for nearly 60 years, since 1959. They’re a family owned restaurant, and we had a chance to talk with owner David on just what sets Rizzo’s apart.
“We’re really deeply rooted in the neighborhood,” David tells us, “My father grew up on 14th street. When he got married, he moved over to Crescent Street. He never left Astoria. He wanted to open his pizzeria right here, and raise his kids here.”
David’s father managed to do all that – and raise six children right in Astoria – and got their help with the pizzeria!
“The way it worked was that the oldest sibling would manage the restaurant. When they went off the college, the next one would step up. Those were the rules in our family. After my youngest brother left for college, there was no one left – so I decided to take over.”
David kept up his father’s legacy of amazing pizza, but there have been changes along the way.
“When my father opened Rizzo’s, he offered just the original thin crust Sicilian that we’re known for, and no toppings. 10 years later, he offered four new toppings: mushrooms, anchovies, pepperoni and sausage.”
They kept the menu solid for a long time – and slowly started introducing some of their newer, unique flavors. These unique offerings are what David says sets Rizzo’s apart.
“I’m beyond honored we were voted the best – but I always say we’re just different. We have a pie that really stands out. I think there’s some amazing pizzerias in the neighborhood, and we offer something that’s a little bit different than all of them.”
He says what sets them apart is their very thin crust – the personal pies are nearly “paper thin.” Other pies, like their sauce-less white pie, or their Sotto Sopra make them stand out in the pizza crowd.
Some other great offerings are their paninis – which are made on their own fresh bread, as well as their American BBQ slice.
“I always say: If you want what we make, you have to have it here,” David tells us – and we’ll have to agree. He goes on to say, “Even with our traditional pies, we put a creative twist on it, something to make it different and our own.”
In 60 years of pizza, David’s family has seen it all.
“There’s been a lot of changes. With the area developing and becoming gentrified, a lot is different now.” These changes mean delivery, online ordering, and a difference in the way you know your customers.
“Our customers are so important to us – but with online ordering and delivery, we sometimes lose touch. My father thought pizza was meant to be eaten at Rizzo’s – not at home out of a box. We love that the neighborhood is growing, but we also love seeing our customers, getting to know them, and building a community.”
They definitely value community. Recently, Rizzo’s opened up a beer and wine bar on the Lower East Side, at 17 Clinton Street – but they’re still supporting their favorite neighborhood. If you go into their Astoria location and ask nicely, they’ll give you a voucher for free pizza at their new location. Seriously, no strings attached: free pizza.
So Astorians – let’s keep the community alive. Let’s show our mom and pop shops like Rizzo’s that Astoria still is that neighborhood. Stop by and have a slice, or just say hi to David, whose family has shown Astoria they’re here to stay!
If you want to try out their pizza, keep an eye out! We’ve got a $25 gift card coming your way.
30-13 Steinway St.
Astoria, NY 11103