Loretta’s Pizza reopens; plans grand celebration

Paul Derrico (left) and Robert Gaspari stand in front of the newly rebuilt Loretta’s Pizza on Layton Avenue. The restaurant was rebuilt after a devastating fire. Photo by Victor Chu

When a local pizzeria caught fire and was all but destroyed last April, many in the neighborhood and beyond were concerned that the popular eatery would shut its doors for good.

But, the owners of Loretta’s Pizza, a staple in the community for many years, at 3276 Layton Avenue, at the corner of Dean Avenue, have reopened their doors with a completely remodeled pizzeria that eagerly awaits to satisfy local appetites.

Partners Paul Derrico and Robert Gaspari were lucky to have a landlord who was completely on board with a massive overhaul of the building after a roofing contractor accidentally set the restaurant ablaze. The entire roof over the kitchen was lost in the fire.

“We had the normal waiting time from the insurance company, and it was not the right time of the year,” said Derrico. “It was April and May, and with the roof off, the rains just poured in here.”

Derrico said that the water damage to the interior of the restaurant was actually worse than the fire, which forced them to install a completely new kitchen. The 1100 square foot building now has all new refrigerators and kitchen fixtures. The entire restaurant had to be gutted, and new gas and electric service was installed.

“The place has new counters out front, and raised ceilings,” said Gaspari. “Everything is state-of-the-art: we have TVs on the wall, speakers in the ceiling – it is bigger and better than ever.”

A grand opening celebration is planned in the coming weeks, likely lasting for much of a day, as residents and friends from all over the area get re-acquainted with the iconic restaurant at the edge of Country Club.

The pizzeria has been at the location for at least 40 years, and went through many changes in that time. It started out as a mere pizza stand, and the restaurant still boasts a walk-up window where slices can be purchased.

Originally, it also sold penny candy and cigarettes. The original owner used to cut up cigarette cartons to make holders for Italian ices, a far cry from the restaurant that currently occupies the location.

“We just wanted to let people know that we are open and running,” Derrico said. “It’s going to be better than ever.”

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