Business

NY Pizza Maker Revisits His Italian Roots

Salvatore Polizzi took a break from his Bushwick Pizzeria to reconnect with his family's olive farm and revive traditions.

Brooklyn Pizzeria owner Salvatore Ploizzi revisited his family's farm in Sicily.
Dec. 27, 2017
By Joanne Drawbaugh
Brooklyn Pizzeria owner Salvatore Ploizzi revisited his family's farm in Sicily.

Recent News

When Brook­lyn-born Tony’s Pizze­ria opened its doors in 1975, it served a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ver­sion of Bush­wick than it does today. Over the course of the establishment’s sto­ried exis­tence, the demo­graph­ics of the neigh­bor­hood have con­tin­u­ally shifted.

Fam­ily is all we have to keep us grounded in the chaos of every­day life.- Sal­va­tore Polizzi, Tonys Pizze­ria

The company’s staff has also changed, as the Ital­ian cou­ple who opened Tony’s doors even­tu­ally passed con­trol of the restau­rant down to their five chil­dren under the lead­er­ship of their sec­ond eldest son, Sal­va­tore Polizzi.

Tony’s has man­aged to stay strong in a rapidly-evolv­ing Bush­wick by adapt­ing to con­sumer tastes. While other New York pizze­rias might admirably stick to the basics, Tony’s offers inno­v­a­tive vari­a­tions to accom­mo­date cus­tomers with vary­ing pref­er­ences and dietary needs.

This culi­nary acu­men, paired with cus­tomer ser­vice that con­tin­u­ally war­rants five-star Yelp reviews, has allowed the Bush­wick restau­rant to stand apart from the hordes of Tony’s.

A Google search returns 70,000 results for Tony’s Pizze­ria’ but this one in Bush­wick man­aged to grab the cov­eted tonyspizzeria.com domain. Under the aptly cho­sen han­dle Best­Pizze­ri­aIn­Brook­lyn,” the team at Tony’s has been tak­ing advan­tage of social media to con­nect with their loyal cus­tomers.

Advertisement

Still, Sal said he had longed for the old days of fam­ily tra­di­tions, espe­cially those derived from his Ital­ian her­itage. He recounted mas­sive Sun­day feasts of freshly made spaghetti with his rel­a­tives, mak­ing wine through the infa­mous stomp­ing method.

The #Beast broth­ers and #TeamTonys @bestpizzeriainbrooklyn return to #The­P­olizzi­Es­tates in Italy 🙌 #Lets­DoThis #Ital­ianAd­ven­ture #BiancoNeroExtraVirginOliveOil2017 #Fam­ilyAboveAll #Bel­laItalia #Road­Trip­pin­gI­taly Tony’s 2017 #Har­vest at the #The­P­olizzi­Es­tates in the heart of Italy gets rolling. Time to get to work!! Tony’s @bestpizzeriainbrooklyn #Artisi­nalEx­traVir­ginO­liveOil #ExtraVir­ginO­liveOil #Bian­coNeroEVOO #Bian­coNeroEx­traVir­ginO­liveOil #TonysO­liveOil #Tonys #TonysPizza #TonysPizze­ri­aAn­dRestau­rant #Italy #Sicily #brook­lyn #Best­Pizze­ri­aIn­Brook­lyn #bush­wick #ForzaFamigli­aPolizzi #The­P­olizzi­Broth­ers #BoysOf­Brook­lyn #40YearsInTheMaking @antpolizzi @bestpizzeriainbrooklyn @andrewpolizzinyc @sbp1107 @justjacko @polizzijoseph

A post shared by Tony’s Pizze­ria and Restau­rant (@bestpizzeriainbrooklyn) on


The world did­n’t revolve around us dur­ing those times but in those moments we all felt as if it did when fam­ily mat­tered above all else.”

Before we knew it, those fam­ily gath­er­ings became a thing of the past. It was­n’t inten­tional but, rather, the given tra­jec­tory of the work ethic our immi­grant-natured fore­fa­thers instilled in us.”

Now, in an effort to re-con­nect with his family’s rich his­tory, Sal has set out to pre­serve a cru­cial ele­ment of their her­itage: a close rela­tion­ship with milling olive oil.

Sal’s fam­ily hails from their Polizzi Estate in Sicily, the land that his grand­fa­ther Benedeto, a goat herder and dairy prod­uct ped­dler, once used in his work as a vac­aro.

Tony’s has pro­duced their own olive oil in very small batches over the past few years, giv­ing bot­tles to friends and fam­ily, and using the oil in their own recipes. Sal said he learned about the pal­pa­ble dif­fer­ence that high-qual­ity oil can make in any recipe. Olive oil is the base.”

With the suc­cess of his small-scale pro­duc­tion, Sal decided to move for­ward and grow his com­pa­ny’s foray into olive oil, and he’s tak­ing his 900 Insta­gram fol­low­ers along for the ride.

#TeamTonys @bestpizzeriainbrooklyn return to #The­P­olizzi­Es­tates in Italy. #Lets­DoThis #Ital­ianAd­ven­ture #BiancoNeroExtraVirginOliveOil2017 #Fam­ilyAboveAll #Bel­laItalia #Road­Trip­pin­gI­taly Tony’s 2017 #Har­vest at the #The­P­olizzi­Es­tates in the heart of Italy gets rolling. Time to get to work!! Tony’s @bestpizzeriainbrooklyn #Artisi­nalEx­traVir­ginO­liveOil #ExtraVir­ginO­liveOil #Bian­coNeroEVOO #Bian­coNeroEx­traVir­ginO­liveOil #TonysO­liveOil #Tonys #TonysPizza #TonysPizze­ri­aAn­dRestau­rant #Italy #Sicily #brook­lyn #Best­Pizze­ri­aIn­Brook­lyn #bush­wick #ForzaFamigli­aPolizzi #The­P­olizzi­Broth­ers #BoysOf­Brook­lyn #40YearsInTheMaking @antpolizzi @bestpizzeriainbrooklyn @andrewpolizzinyc @sbp1107 @justjacko @polizzijoseph @paceuniversity @paceualumni

A post shared by Tony’s Pizze­ria and Restau­rant (@bestpizzeriainbrooklyn) on


The Polizzi Estate is home to 3,800 olive trees, while the fam­ily buys more land to be annexed into the estate. Sal is work­ing to pre­pare the land for com­mer­cial use and in Feb­ru­ary he plans to plant an addi­tional 5,000 trees.

They use one of the area’s com­mu­nal mills where they gain insight from expert Ital­ian pro­duc­ers who have been in the busi­ness for gen­er­a­tions.

The olive oil will ten­ta­tively be bot­tled under the brand name Bianco Nero, sym­bol­iz­ing the dichotomy of night and day, black and white,” or what Sal describes with the char­ac­ter­is­tic con­fi­dence of a New Yorker as the dif­fer­ence in qual­ity between his prod­uct and other oils in the mar­ket­place.

While Bianco Nero will be sold in Tony’s Pizze­ria and used in their recipes, Sal is also work­ing on dis­tri­b­u­tion through retail­ers from small Brook­lyn bou­tiques to large organic chains.

Of course, tak­ing on a project like reviv­ing the ances­tral farm is accom­pa­nied by a cer­tain level of ner­vous­ness, but Sal asserts that he has his fam­ily tra­di­tion back­ing them. He plans to mea­sure the company’s suc­cess in terms of cus­tomer hap­pi­ness.

Advertisement

Above all though, he hopes his efforts will assert the impor­tance of tra­di­tion. Much like the sacred vir­gin­ity of our extra vir­gin olive oil, the sacred nature of fam­ily is all we have in this world of untruths and mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tions.”

Fam­ily is all we have to keep us grounded in the chaos of every­day life. In its purest form, our Bianco-Nero brand and its devel­op­ment is the liv­ing embod­i­ment of fam­ily and tra­di­tion and the belief we have in its strength and honor.“


Related News