Loretta’s pizza rebuilds; grand re-opening planned

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When Loretta’s Pizza caught fire and was all but destroyed last April, many in the neighborhood and beyond were concerned that the popular eatery, which has been of service to school lunch programs in the area, would shut its doors for good.

Now, the owners of Loretta’s Pizza, a staple in the community for 30 years at 3276 Layton Avenue, at the corner of Dean Avenue, say they hope to open the doors of a completely rebuilt pizzeria by the end of the summer.

Fire tore through the building when workers, repairing the roof, accidentally sent the building up in flames on April 22, leaving the kitchen in the back of the restaurant a pile of charred rubble.

Now, thanks to help from the landlord, who is on board with a complete reconstruction, owners Robert Gaspari and Paul D’Errico plan to reopen the pizzeria in three or four weeks.

Work on the exterior is already complete, and now the finishing touches are being added to the interior, which has been completely gutted and redone.

Gaspari said he feels that when patrons see the new restaurant, they will find the space even more appealing than in the past.

“Everything is going to be brand-spanking new,” Gaspari noted. “I think it will be more inviting for customers. I am looking for an increase in business. It is going to be both brighter and cleaner.”

Gaspari said that the kitchen would be completely reconfigured, and the dining area will be enhanced; it will have better lighting, nine-foot ceilings, new tiles, and even stronger air-conditioning.

“I am dying to come back because this is the longest I have ever gone without working,” Gaspari continued. “The product is going to be the same; we are definitely not going to change that.”

Residents and visitors to Country Club are excited that their beloved pizzeria is coming back home.

“They have the best Sicilian pizza in all of the neighborhood, and I am including E. Tremont Avenue, Williamsbridge Road, and other places,” said Mike Williams, who was passing by the eatery recently. “I miss them and am happy that they are reopening.”

Other residents agree, happy that the fire did not result in Loretta’s departure from the neighborhood. 

“When I saw the fire, I said I hope that they are not moving away,” said Margaret Helkowski, who passes the pizza place on her way to visit a loved one at Providence Rest. “Their pizza always smells great, and I sometimes stop in to enjoy a slice.”

Loretta’s has just been and will soon be again the fixture it has always been.

“The food at Loretta’s is very good, and the owners are real gentlemen who keep the place immaculately clean,” Angelo Palumbo said.  “I look forward to eating there again soon.”

Updated 5:30 pm, October 21, 2011
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