“IT WAS OUR PLEASURE”: the pizzeria Vesuvio closes after 63 years in the west of the city

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Vesuvio Pizzeria and Spaghetti House may have survived SARS, a late-night burglary in 1988, where a bandit fled with a $ 67,000 safe and fought alcohol prohibition at The Junction for 30 years.

But he could not cope with COVID-19.

The Junction staple, located at 3010 Dundas Street West, near Keele Street, announced Tuesday evening on Facebook that it was closing permanently Sunday after 63 years of activity, citing economic difficulties since the closure of its dining room during the pandemic and people opting to cook at home instead of takeout.

Vesuvio Pizzeria & Spaghetti House in The Junction in Toronto, Ont. Wednesday April 15, 2020. The restaurant is expected to close on Sunday. (ERNEST DOROSZUK / TORONTO SUN)

Ernest Doroszuk /

Toronto Sun

“People are afraid, so they stay away. As soon as this epidemic broke out, many of our workers left and it is very difficult to start a business like this, “said owner Ettore (Eddie) Pugliese from his home on Wednesday had been isolated for a month with his wife, Piera. “Also with the supplies. We tried to keep it together for as long as possible, but it got to a point where we couldn’t do it. We have lost about 70% of our income. “

The company was created by the four Pugliese brothers – Ettore, Dominic, Corrado and Attilio – and their father Rocco, from 1957. Two years earlier, Dominic had emigrated from Italy to the United States and learned to do New York-style pizza from a man who owned a New York bakery named Vesuvio. The family opened their own Vesuvius – a nod to Mount Vesuvius which overlooks their hometown of Naples, Italy – a few meters from the current location in 1962.

A vintage photo of Vesuvio Pizzeria. (VESUVIO PIZZERIA)

VESUVIO PIZZERIA

“The New York style is somewhere between Neapolitan pizza and Chicago deep dish pizza. We took it to Toronto and tried to perfect it with something in between. And we did it, “said Pugliese, 81.” The secret? Using the best things you can find in the market – tomatoes, cheese and pepperoni. We never looked at the price. We care a lot about the product we offer. “

The Facebook post reads: “Our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported our family business and enjoyed our food and hospitality for the past six decades. It was our pleasure. “

Despite knowing that The Junction was a “dry” area banning the sale of alcohol, the Pugliese family had fought tooth and nail for decades to repeal the 1903 settlement.

They lost many votes – in 1969, 1973 and 1984 – for the regulation to be canceled. Last time, Ettore nailed two by four and plywood to barricade the doors to the dining room while the customers were still inside. He said no meal would be served again unless served with a glass of wine. In 1996 Piera and a few other community members again pushed to change the designation to “wet”. They won by vote in 1997.

Three of the four Pugliese brothers, who founded Vesuvio Pizzeria at the junction, stand next to one of their delivery cars around 1975. (VESUVIO PIZZERIA)

VESUVIO PIZZERIA

After extensive renovations, Vesuvio opened in 2000 with a liquor license.

This helped revitalize The Junction and Vesuvio was named to all of the city’s “best pizza” lists year after year.

“We could have opened in St. Clair or College St. like all Italians, but we saw potential at The Junction,” said Pugliese. “Many people (whom we could not serve), they got up and left and we would never see them again. “

Pugliese added that retirement has always been on the cards, but COVID-19 has reinforced this choice.

“I was ready to retire. I lost three of (my brothers), so I’m the only survivor. Thank goodness I have my daughter (Paola) with me there – she runs things, “he said.

Since the closure was announced, Vesuvio has seen one-hour queues for a slice.

“My daughter told me they had to pick up the phones because they couldn’t keep up,” he said. “I will miss the friends I have made, the thousands of people who return after 40 to 50 years. “

Piera, his trembling voice, expressed his gratitude to his remaining “skeleton staff” and said that she already yearns for laughter and the “clatter of dishes”.

“They stay with us until the end,” she said. “Right now, we have more than we can do. But we will miss it. “

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