Piecora Seasons Pizza with Humor

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From the Seattle Post-Intellegencer:

Danny Piecora cracks himself up, laughs so hard that others can’t help but laugh, too, which in turn fuels his delight until he’s wiping his eyes.

He knows a thing or two about a good time; he seems to always be having one at his pizza joint, a haven of New York attitude on Capitol Hill. It’s got red vinyl booths and deep green walls loaded with posters paying homage to The Big Apple.

It’s a place where punk rockers perform on Saturday and preachers try their hand in the back on Sunday.

“I like to have a place for independent artists to showcase their work,” he said.

In 1979, before the shop opened, Piecora helped lead a community council that did a study to find people’s biggest worries about the neighborhood. Piecora expected crime, halfway houses and drug use to top the list.

Instead, “The No. 1 issue,” Piecora said, laughing and pumping his fist, pointer finger up, “I’ll never forget this… ,” he banged the table a few times, “was a cheap place to eat!”

The unbeatable recipe of cheap, hot food plus an all-are-welcome atmosphere has garnered the pizza parlor a loyal following. In 2002, Piecora bought the entire building near the corner of East Madison and East Pike streets.

Even when times are hard, Piecora says, people can afford a slice of pizza. For his formal interview with the Seattle P-I, he cracked open a can of Guinness and poured himself a glass. He relishes the shop’s clueless and haphazard beginning.

Piecora, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens Village, is the second-oldest of nine children, five of them boys. He and his brothers moved to Seattle in the late 1970s. The neighborhood survey results encouraged them to sell their beloved New York-style pizza.

“It was all on a lark,” said Piecora, 55. “All we knew how to do was eat pizza. We learned everything the hard way.”

The brothers sent the youngest to New York to learn.

“Ma was missing Richie, so we sent Richie back home to Tony’s pizzeria. Tony taught him how to make dough,” he said. Tony’s last name doesn’t come with the recollection.

Richie came back, and they fired up the ovens. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Danny Piecora said, face alight. “We’d burn pizzas, experimenting with cheese.”

After nine months of hilarity, they ran out of money and were forced to sell food. It opened on Good Friday in 1982.

“We used a shoe box and a calculator,” he said. “My brothers were so cheap, we had a big argument about whether to have a telephone — everything was an argument.”

 

[this is an excerpt from Andrea James’ article in the Seattle Post-Intellegencer.  Read the full article here.]

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