Fast-forward to 2020 and his grandson, 24-year-old author and Middle Village resident Anthony Sciarratta, is determined to reopen his grandpa’s pizzeria near its original location and begin a new chapter for a missed community institution.
“I remember my grandfather giving me a pile of dough to throw around the pizzeria to keep me occupied,” he said. “My grandfather remembers meeting so many different types of people, including many of his closest friends.
“Tradition means everything to me,” Sciarratta added. “A big reason why I became a writer is to be able to preserve the things that mean the most. I still have people reaching out to me saying how my grandfather’s pizzeria was a major part of their childhood and family dinner.”
Sciarratta envisions preserving the original ambiance of Tony’s Pizzeria, as well as incorporating his own touch.
“I will try my best to replicate the storefront and many of the same things my grandfather had in his pizzeria while including a modern touch,” he said.
Sciarratta plans to include a plaque commemorating Giuliano P. Francini, his grandfather’s best friend and co-worker who recently passed away.
“Giuliano is also a big part of the community’s memories,” he said.
Sciarratta’s first novel, “Finding Forever: A 1970s Love Story,” was published by Post Hill Press in November. In it, a neurotic Italian-American man is inspired to write a novel about his love affair with a quirky Broadway actress.
“I placed myself in an era filled with pop culture and music that I love,” he said. “I like to say that the female lead I created is a combination of Diane Keaton in ‘Annie Hall,’ Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ and Olivia Newton John in ‘Grease.’”
Sciarratta’s second novel, “The Letter,” will be published on April 28.
“When famous writer Victor Esposito falls into a coma, the memories of a ten-year-old love affair come roaring back to Eva Abram’s mind, uprooting her quiet Long Island life,” he said of the plot.
Sciarratta’s storylines are often sentimental and feature old-school New York neighborhoods, businesses, and events, including the blizzard of 1978, the shuttered La Cue Pool Bar in Maspeth, London Lennie’s in Rego Park, and Louie’s Oyster Bar in Port Washington.
Sciarratta’s childhood and teen years proved to him that it was okay to be original.
“While the other kids were wearing Marc Ecko, I wore Hugo Boss,” he recalled. “When everyone talked about the new G-Unit song, I spent my time listening to Bon Jovi and Barry Manilow, which I caught a lot of heat for.
“Having a stutter and not being good at sports didn’t make anything easier for me,” Sciarratta continued, “but a lot of that changed when I attended St. Francis Preparatory School, where I felt like I was allowed to be myself a little more.”
On February 13 at 7 p.m., Sciarratta will have a book signing and Q&A at Barnes & Noble at 1542 Northern Boulevard in Manhasset. In his eyes, being an author symbolizes immortalization.
“When I’m long gone, my writing will still exist,” he said.