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Behind the Pizza Peel: Al Santillo

santillo's brick oven pizza

Behind the Pizza Peel is a profile series I’ve been wanting to put together for years. Its goal is to reveal the warm–and sometimes wild–personalities that create America’s favorite food on a daily basis.

Who are the people behind the pizzas, and what made them choose a pizza peel over a briefcase? What’s their inspiration and what keeps them going? We find out in this ongoing series.

Behind the Pizza Peel: Al Santillo

Al Santillo
Pizzeria: Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza, Elizabeth, NJ
Age: 58
Years in Pizza Biz: “Born in a flour bag”
Favorite Hobbies Outside of Pizza: “I’m open seven days a week, so my customers are my entertainment.”
The Pizza Insider: Why did you go into the pizza business?

Al Santillo: I was born in the pizzeria. My dad used to give the neighborhood kids rides on the dough mixer, which I still use today. I’m the third generation to own Santillo’s. My father got sick in his late 50s; I was about 23. He asked me if I wanted the business; if not, he was going to close it down. I knew how good the pizza was and I didn’t want it to go extinct. I like the feeling of carrying on the family business.

The Pizza Insider: What do you enjoy most about the pizza business?

Al Santillo: I like when I get visits from friendly people who have a good story or a joke for me, maybe even share a glass of wine with me. I like the extroverted types! I also like to see those who haven’t been here in 40 or 50 years and they come back to visit. I even have a couple of customers who are over 100 years old and still come in for pizza!

The Pizza Insider: …read more

Source:: The Pizza Insider