Antonio’s Brings Casaccio Family Pizza Back to Brooklyn Heights
They may no longer have the iconic neon sign that once read “Pizza Salad” or the prized location at the five-way intersection – Fulton Street, Willoughby Street, Adams Street, Joralemon Street and Boerum Place – in Downtown Brooklyn that made Tony’s Famous Pizza such a frequent destination for Brooklyn Law School students, but at Antonio’s, the newest of Antonio Casaccio’s family-owned pizzerias, they’re still serving up the same delicious pizza that earned Tony’s the reputation for the best slice in the neighborhood.
Originally hailing from Sicily, the Casaccio family maintained the corner storefront for twenty years, growing a loyal customer base and a brisk business in the process. Over that time, the day-to-day operations were passed down through the generations of the family, eventually resting with Mr. Casaccio’s grandchildren, Frank and Giovanna.
However, when the most recent lease on the property expired, the owners of the building chose not to renew it, no doubt in search of a new, higher-profile tenant to better mesh with the myriad of changes coming to the Fulton Mall. Accordingly, the location has since been taken over by a certain hamburger establishment which, although popular, has been the subject of some recent criticism.
A few weeks after shutting down in February 2011, Tony’s Famous Pizza reopened on Dekalb Avenue, just west of Flatbush. Although this allowed the family-owned business to keep its culinary tradition alive, the new location didn’t have quite the same foot traffic as the original Tony’s, and the longer walk from BLS made it difficult for some students to eat there as often as they had once enjoyed.
So, it was to the considerable delight of many that, just last month – almost exactly one year to the day since the neon lights went out at Tony’s – Antonio’s opened its doors at 32 Court Street. The initial reviews from customers have been excellent. John Cleaver, a third year student at BLS and frequent customer at Tony’s, said he felt the pizza at Antonio’s was even better than before. “The crust is crispier and the sauce is tastier. I guess they decided to step up their game, even though their old slice was legitimately good,” said Cleaver.
Just a few weeks after opening, business has already begun to pick up as more and more people in the neighborhood take notice and come to remember the warm embrace of a slice of Casaccio family pizza. And the family, which extends its gratitude to the students and staff of BLS for their many years of patronage, is more than ready to welcome everyone back.
Though the décor in the new restaurant has added a distinct touch of class, Antonio’s thankfully retains the same atmosphere as Tony’s, and many of the same faces as well. Besides Frank and Giovanna, former patrons will also recognize the familiar presence of long-time employees like Victor and Carlos. They make up a group that has worked together for years, in essence creating a family within a family business. And, while their boisterous, uninhibited personalities may sometimes come as a surprise to the uninitiated, they also help to make Antonio’s something which – much to this author’s chagrin – has become increasingly rare today: a truly authentic Brooklyn pizzeria.
Like the other Casaccio family establishments, Antonio’s offer a wide variety of delicious specialty pies, custom smoothies, and salads made-to-order. None of these offerings has ever failed to satisfy this seasoned patron.
However, as any real lover of pizza knows, the mark of a truly great pizzeria is the quality of its plain, cheese pie. Anybody with access to an oven and New York City tap-water can heap toppings on a pizza and make it palatable. But these days, few and far between are the pizzerias that can consistently create simple, elegant perfection from just cheese, sauce and crust. It is, quite simply, an Italian-American art form, and it is what makes Antonio’s so truly special.
That is certainly the sentiment that seems to be returning to Brooklyn Law School. “It’s good to see the old faces there,” noted Cleaver. “I look forward to eating pizza from Antonio’s far more often than I probably should.” And considering the 20% discount offered to BLS students, who could really blame him?