Totonno’s, a 100-Year-Old Pizza Institution, Is Up for Sale – Eater NY

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One of New York’s oldest pizzerias is up for sale.

Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitana, a Coney Island institution and one of the city’s few coal-oven pizzerias left, is looking for a buyer to take over the century-old business, according to the New York Times. On Wednesday, a note appeared on the Totonno’s website, asking interested investors and buyers to contact the owners.

“We’re coming up in age and we don’t have the manpower to continue,” Louise Ciminieri, an owner, told the Times. She runs Totonno’s with her sister, Antoinette Balzano, and their brother, Frank Balzano. The siblings are looking for someone to continue their family’s tradition of pizza making.

It’s one of the most significant changes in the pizzeria’s history.

Later this year, Totonno’s will turn 100 years old: The pizzeria was started in 1924 by Antonio Pero, an Italian immigrant who worked at Lombardi’s on Spring Street, one of the country’s oldest pizzerias. In that time, the same family has owned and operated the business. They still make pizza in a coal oven, just as they did a century ago, and their pizzeria has remained in its one-story building in Coney Island. The pizzeria has endured a devastating fire, Hurricane Sandy, and a global pandemic.

In 2009, the James Beard Foundation awarded Totonno’s with the American Classics Award, honoring “locally and independently owned restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for food that reflects the character and cultural traditions of its community,” according to the foundation’s guidelines. Recipients have to be at least 10 years old. Totonno’s has gone well beyond that.

The family insists the pizzeria’s recipes have not changed. “Everything is exactly the same,” Ciminieri tells the Times, “the way our grandfather made it.”

Totonno’s is one of the few places in the city that still uses a coal oven. The crust is thin, but tender, with char marks in some places and ingredients imported from Italy. In 2013, Eater’s critic called Totonno’s “the best pizzeria in the world.”

The pizzeria was rumored to have closed during the pandemic. It closed in March 2020 and did not reopen until two years later. Even today, the business only sells pizza for takeout two days each week. It has yet to resume indoor dining.

Eater has reached out to Totonno’s for comment.

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