The award for the second-oldest pizza parlor in the Valley goes to Tony’s Pizzeria in Kingston, and this one touches a little bit closer to home. My cousins — first Sparky and then Charlie and Sal Greco — operated it for decades.
Tony Saccoman opened the restaurant in 1937, when most people in Kingston did not know what pizza was. He introduced it to the area by giving free slices to his first customers, many of whom were passengers and workers at the nearby Kingston train station. From then on, business boomed and Tony’s became the neighborhood place to be. My grandfather, Frank Grimaldi, recalls getting his first-ever slice of pizza there. “My father took me in when I was probably eight or nine,” he tells me. “The Saccomans were almost like family to our cousins the Grecos. Even after Tony sold the restaurant to them, he had his own table every night. That’s how highly they thought of him.”
Tony’s flourished because it catered to all age groups. “The old Italian guys used to sit and smoke at the bar, and the high school kids who packed the fancy dining room — it was fancy because it had a few pictures on the walls — always got a kick out of them,” my grandfather recalls. My grandmother Rosemary concurs. “The Kingston High School kids were always there after every game,” she says. “I became a pizza maniac when I was 15 and had my first slice there.” (My grandfather wants to be sure I know that he was the one to take her there that day.)
When the year 1951 rolled around, Charlie and Sal Greco bought the pizzeria and led it for the next 36 years. My mother Cynthia remembers going there every weekend when she was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, feeling much the same way my grandparents did about the place. “Going to Tony’s was like eating in your own kitchen with a lot of friends — but without the mess,” she says.
In 1987, the Greco brothers hung up their hats. Chris Farrell took over in the 1990s but eventually shut it down for an extended period. Just about a year ago, after sprucing up the interior, Farrell’s daughter Nealey and her fiancé, Dylan Kennedy, reopened the restaurant. Farrell says they are striving to bring back the greatness Tony’s once enjoyed. “We’re using the same recipe the original owners used, and kept the original bar,” she says. “People say they feel like they’ve been transported back in time.”
I’m sure my cousins would be proud.