RINGWOOD, NJ — Luigi's Pizza & Restaurant in Ringwood banks on southern Italian influences to please the local school crowd and community.
It recently was selected as a top finalist in Daily Voice's DVlicious Best Pizza in Passaic competition .
"We're from the heel of the boot, so a lot of other places have more of a French style with butters and creams," said owner Anthony Martinelli. "Here, we use olive oil. We were right across from Greece so it's more Mediterranean."
His father, Luigi, opened the restaurant in 1968 but he transplanted the entire family from New Jersey to Italy in 1978. Martinelli spent four and a half years there but the family returned in 1982 to open the establishment on Skyline Lakes Drive. After he graduated from college and came into the business, he opened a second location in Branchburg.
The pizza parlor largely attracts the school community. They had a line out the door on a Friday night after the homecoming game for people waiting for pizzas.
"This place is hopping," said customer Steve Nemi. "We've seen the family grow here."
Martinelli checks out his competition and tries to make as many in-house items as possible without veering from the 50-year-old recipes. Fellow alumni from Wanaque High School and college kids who work behind the counter helped him have one of his best years in 2014.
In return, he supports their causes. The Ringwood Mom's Facebook page has been dropping off bottle caps to support a fundraiser run by one of his employees.
“We’re part of the community. We know most of the people by name, and what they like, because I like that, too," Martinelli said. "I truly enjoy coming to work here because it’s not work for me.”
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