FILA has officially sent in their nominations for the best New York pizza, and has provided the adequate footwear for New Yorkers to get there.
The company’s Famous New York Style Pizza sneaker collection draws design inspiration from five pizzerias spanning across the five boroughs, including the Bronx’s own Louie & Ernie’s Pizza.
“We chose five restaurants that are known not only for their acclaimed pizza but for a strong sense of family and community,” said Tara Narayan, senior vice president of marketing at FILA North America. “This was an opportunity to share their stories and to serve up something special for their loyal customers and beyond.”
The one-story brick building located on Crosby Avenue in the Bronx has been in business since 1959. But the original storefront began in 1947 in Harlem by brothers Louie Ottuso and Ernie Ottuso. They moved the shop to the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx in the late ’50s, where it would eventually be taken over by a new set of pizza brothers: John Tiso and Cosimo (Cosmo) Tiso.
“Initially FILA reached out to us regarding the opportunity,” said Victoria Tiso, manager of Louie & Ernie’s and daughter of owner John Tiso. “[FILA wanted] the use of the name — what they were going to do with it, we didn’t know initially.”
After negotiations surrounding the official terms of the agreement, almost two years went by without word to the pizzeria about FILA’s project. When the project was set in motion, Louie & Ernie’s quickly transitioned from a family-owned pizza parlor to a design studio.
The restaurant was very involved with the design process, Victoria Tiso told the Bronx Times. Victoria Tiso, her father John Tiso and uncle Cosimo Tiso were able to pick from different shoe designs and colors, and could add special designs that represent their history.
“We were able to pretty much do whatever we wanted,” Victoria Tiso said. “They kind of gave us free range.”
Their featured shoe, a FILA Renno sporting a red, green, black and white colorway with “Sorry, cash only & no delivery” printed on the side, is an ode to Louie & Ernie’s commitment to keeping pizza simple. On the inside tongue sits a picture of the storefront, and the bottom has a clear sole with another print of the storefront, but as it looked before the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
The collection, which Victoria Tiso says has sold out multiple times, is available exclusively at Foot Locker and also highlights Tee’s Tavern in Staten Island, Rubirosa Ristorante in Manhattan, sLICe from Queens and Roberta’s from Brooklyn.
While the sneakers pay tribute to the five boroughs, shoe sales extend beyond New York City. According to Victoria Tiso, customers send in photos from California, Texas, Colorado, Chicago, Florida and other states around the country. And although the shoes are only available for purchase in the United States, the Tisos have shipped the sneakers to family and friends in Italy who request them.
“The shoes are just popping up everywhere,” Victoria Tiso said. “It’s really humbling to see them now literally not only be in the Bronx, but kind of everywhere.”
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