NEW YORK STYLE PIZZA… AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRAVEL 1200 MILES TO GET IT!!!
Tampa Tribune Article
By: Dick Martin, Restaurant Critic Brandon
What a wonderful surprise I received the other day. A good friend of mine from my old days in New York called just to say hello. As we are talking, he suggests that we go and have a pizza while we are talking to help us remember the good old days in Little Italy, New York. I said I would love to, but I didn’t have the time to fly all the way up north for that. He said, Fly? How about a ten-minute drive? Now I thought of all the local pizza restaurants around town and really not a one reminded me of New York. He says I do! Meet me at the front entrance to the new Crossroads Shopping Mall on Highway 60 and Faulkenburg Road in ten minutes. That is where the Home Depot is located.
We meet and drive to the rear of the mall and park. As we walk and talk, he points to the sign over top of the building…Villa Rina’s Pizza. To my pleasant surprise, this was a new one on me. As we walked inside it was easy to see that my friend had been here before, as the man behind the counter and Gene exchanged their greetings in Italian. The smell of something good was starting to tingle at my nose. The man behind the counter was introduced as Dick, not to let people know of my position with the paper. Tony was very nice. It was pleasant to hear a greeting like I was used to years ago in New York.
As we sat down and looked at the menu flyer from the counter, I could see I was in for a nice surprise. The other man behind the counter was flipping a pizza into the air and stretching the dough nice and thin. Now that’s the way I remember pizza being made. Not with a rolling pin!!!
We ordered a large pizza with sausage. As the pie was being made right there before out eyes, Tony explained that the dough was made by him, as well at the tomato sauce. He said the trick to making a real New York pizza is a combination of things (1) The dough has to be made fresh daily (2) The sauce has to be just right, home made, not out of a can (3) The mozzarella cheese must be 100% real cheese (4) The oven has to be the kind that bakes the pie from the bottom like the old brick ovens, not the new ones that blow the air all around and cook the pie too soft. A true pizza should have a thin crust that is crisp, Tony says. Who am I to argue with an expert? Well let me tell you right here and now…Villa Rina’s Pizza Inc. hit a home run on all counts.
In about 15 minutes when our pizza was done, I could not believe the smell and taste of our pie. I closed my eyes as I bit into the tip, the smell like nothing I have had down South since I’ve been here. The crust was crisp on the bottom, the sausage was terrific. You could taste the real mozzarella cheese and the real olive oil in every bite. With my eyes closed I thought I was back in New York for a moment!!!
Tony also makes the thick Sicilian pizza for those who prefer that kind of pie. It is still made with the same quality as the New York style thin crust pie. The prices are very reasonable. Our large 16” was only $7.95 plus $1.35 for the sausage topping for a total of $9.30, plus tax. Now let me tell you it was worth every penny of it. I have been back twice already since my first visit just the other day. I have tried some of the other items on the menu. I brought the family with my last time. My wife had a Stromboli (an Italian sandwich made with pepperoni, ham, salami and mozzarella cheese, all rolled into a pizza dough, then baked like a pie). My daughter had the lasagna dinner. Me, I had to have the pizza again, so I had the 14” (medium) with the works!!!
Everything was great! Tony also serves ‘The Original Philly Steak Sandwiches’. They come in 18 different ways, one to fit everyone’s taste buds. Other dinners are also available, as well as cold New York style submarine sandwiches. All items are reasonably priced. The only thing that is missing is a glass of beer or wine that would be a nice touch with our meal. Tony said they are working on obtaining a beer and wine license, but until then you have a choice of different soft drinks or coffee.
Villa Rina’s has two locations. The one I am referring to is located at 10073 Adamo Drive, Brandon (next to Home Depot). The other is located at 13044 66th Street N. and Ulmerton Road, Largo. The Brandon phone numbers are 654-6449 or 654-6352. Tony will gladly take your phone order and have it ready for you on arrival, to either take home or eat in. Their hours are Monday through Thursday 10:30 AM- 10 PM, Friday and Saturdays 10:30 AM- 10:30 PM and Sundays 12 PM to 9:30 PM.
Very seldom I get all worked up over a small pizza restaurant like this, but Villa Rina’s is worth it. I figure what I would spend for one round trip ticket to New York and back, I will be able to eat at Tony’s Villa Rina’s Restaurant with the family for many months to come. Or by myself…you never know when you might have to go to Home Depot to pick up that little extra part for some extra project around the home…
December 14, 1989 Tampa Tribune
The Villa Rina 28
Villa Rina Pizza is on the east side of Tampa in Brandon, Florida. We serve New York Style Pizza & Pasta. You won’t believe the quality and taste of our New York style Pizza and foods. It’s as if we flew the pizza and pasta in straight from New York to you in Brandon specially for your order.