BY BROGAN SCOTCH
Many restaurants come and go, but Vincenzo’s Pizzeria remains a West Scranton staple as it enters its 30th year in business.
Owner Vincenzo Cicco, 49, knows pizza as much as he knows Northeast Pennsylvania. Born and raised in West Side, he started making pizzas when he was 14 at his uncle’s restaurant, Luigi’s Pizza in Olyphant, another well-established local eatery. Cicco worked there throughout his high school years, and a year after graduating, at the age of 19, he opened his own place on North Main Avenue on Oct. 16, 1989.
Back then, the pizza shop was a little different. It was half its current size, and Cicco focused most of his attention on producing high-quality, New York-style pizzas. Thirty years later, Cicco has expanded his business to include a dining room and a full menu of Italian favorites, and he keeps things fresh with monthly specials not found on the regular menu.
“When I started, it was all traditional,” Cicco said. “That’s changed over the years. People are looking for more than just the standards. They want a little something more.”
The monthly specials give customers something new to try while allowing the items to stick around for longer than just a day or a week, Cicco said. It also provides an outlet for experimentation for him and his chef, Pat Salvaggio. Cicco laughed as he mentioned that after 30 years, he needed to spice things up by introducing new and exciting dishes.
The specials are typically creative takes on familiar items. October’s list, for instance, included Pretzel and Mustard Wing Bites, which topped chicken drenched in classic dijon honey mustard with crushed sourdough pretzels. The Pumpkin Risotto, meanwhile, played off the familiar fall flavor and combined it with creamy risotto, spices, roasted local squash and spinach. The Pappardelle special featured fresh, homemade pasta tossed with a tomato sauce made with braised beef and Chianti wine.
In addition to providing customers with dine-in and carry-out options, Vincenzo’s offers multiple catering services. There is an on-premises banquet room that can seat up to 60 people, as well as off-premise catering and prepared items that customers can pick up themselves. Cicco said customers enjoy his Penne with Vodka Sauce, Homemade Meatballs, Sausage and Peppers and his chicken strips, which can be prepared in a butter and garlic sauce or marsala-style.
“We do as much as we can from scratch. Whenever we can make it, we do,” Cicco said, adding that both his homemade meat and cheese ravioli that have proven to be customer favorites.
Making food from scratch and sourcing local ingredients is important in providing customers with a high-quality product, Cicco noted. He felt that way 30 years ago and still holds to that standard today. He thinks it is a big part of his business reaching its 30-year milestone.
“I’ve seen a lot of places come and go. I’m happy to make it this far and hope to go further,” Cicco said.
His gratitude for support over the years starts with his family, he explained. Cicco’s kids have all spent time in the family business, and his wife has helped him tremendously since day one. Past and present staff have made it all possible, too.
“It’s not an easy business,” Cicco said. “I’m fortunate to have a lot of good people working for me over the years. You can’t get there by yourself.”
Thanks also goes to the local community, which has responded well to his business over the last three decades, he added.
“The community has been great. Some of my customers today have been there from the start,” Cicco said.
Vincenzo’s Pizzeria used to be a kids’ hangout, and now Cicco sees those kids coming in 30 years later with families of their own. And though the shop has seen some enhancements over the years, Cicco’s commitment to quality has remained unchanged.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127
- Address: 131 N. Main Ave., Scranton
- Phone: 570-347-1060
- Established: Oct. 16, 1989
- Owner: Vincenzo Cicco
- Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Online: Visit the restaurant’s Facebook page or vincenzos-scranton.com.