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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Angelo Pizza ’18 bursts onto Philly pizza scene

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Angelo Pizza ’18 opened The Angelo Pizza in Old City. PHOTO: LUKAS VAN SANT ’21/THE HAWK

A sign inside The Angelo Pizza, an up-and-coming restaurant in the 200 block of Market Street in Philadelphia, reads, “The guy’s name is Angelo Pizza.” 

Angelo Pizza ’18 opened the Old City restaurant last November. Yes, his last name really is Pizza, and the St. Joe’s alum will happily show you his driver’s license to prove it.

Pizza is not just his last name and the heart of his business, though. It’s a part of Pizza’s personal history. At three years old, he was helping his grandpa make dough. Later, he worked at his dad’s, Angelo Pizza, pizza shop, Angelo’s Carryout, in Little Italy, Baltimore. Angelo’s Carryout, which was known for its 32-inch pies, closed in 2013.

“I would be tossing that dough at 14 years old,” Pizza said. “The dough was almost as big as I was at the time.”

Pizza chose to go to college rather than straight into the family business. But at St. Joe’s, he didn’t stray too far from the food industry.

“Food was one of my only passions coming into college,” Pizza said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be centered around food in some manner.”

Pizza ended up majoring in food marketing. After his graduation in 2018, he worked in insurance for a while. It took a global pandemic to get him back to his roots.

While the world was in quarantine last spring, Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, began unboxing and reviewing frozen pizzas. After long conversations with friends, Pizza decided to send Portnoy his classic cheese pizza, The Angelo Pizza, an adaption of the family pizza.

“We were literally on the phone with each other,” said Johnny Schouten, a childhood friend of Pizza, “and  I get a text from my brother, in all caps, ‘OMG ANGELO’S ON BARSTOOL RIGHT NOW’ and I’m like, ‘Bro, you need to hang up. It’s happening.’”

Thanks to an authentic story and a mouth-watering product, Pizza received a stellar score of 8.1 from Portnoy.

“I quit my job two days after the review came out at the height of the pandemic in May,” Pizza said. 

After the review from Portnoy, Pizza began making and shipping the frozen pizzas out of his apartment in Manayunk, Philadelphia.

“I liked making pizzas in my kitchen when it was for fun or for friends,” Pizza said. “But trying to produce the frozen pizzas out of my house was a total nightmare. Trying to figure out how I’m freezing 50 to 100 pizzas and then vacuum sealing them in a residential freezer was definitely the biggest challenge.”

After a few months, Pizza set his eyes on establishing a small factory and increasing the production of his frozen pizza. But while browsing commercial real estate ads, Pizza came across a restaurant location at 229 Market St. in Old City and changed gears. 

“It seemed like it was too good to be true,” Pizza said. “I went down there and the place was great. It needed some love for sure. It needed paint and needed a lot of cleaning, and we had to put our own touch, our own decor, but Old City was just a no brainer. I jumped on it.” 

Combining his unique story, passion for pizza and his food marketing skills, Pizza created a following of support. 

“He is extremely passionate about his pizza business,” said Paras Bhagat, associate director of business affairs and analytics in St. Joe’s department of Institutional Effectiveness. “He works extremely hard for his goals. He will put in the time and effort required for his business. His competition may have more experience than him, but I will tell you that Angelo will outwork them. That’s what he knows best.”  

For Schouten, though, it’s the pizza that’s the main reason for his friend’s success.

“It’s by far my favorite pizza,” Schouten said. “It’s not even comparable. It’s just light and crispy. The sauce is the best part. That’s a million-dollar recipe right there. That stuff is absolutely to die for.”

With eight pies on the menu and no additions or substitutions, you can call to place an order for takeout, or go in for limited indoor seating per Philadelphia’s current COVID-19 guidelines.

As for the future of The Angelo Pizza, Pizza has big plans: He wants to bring back his line of frozen pizzas. Then he wants to be known for making the best pizza in Philadelphia.

“Eventually I’d like to be somewhat synonymous with pizza, if it’s not too big of an ask, when it comes to pizza in Philadelphia,” Pizza said. 

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