Tony’s Pizza doing well after 59 years | News, Sports, Jobs

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Tina Sanchez, daughter of founder Tony Toscan, poses with a Tony’s Combo at Tony’s Pizza.

Valerie Phillips, Special to Standard Examiner

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A Tony’s Combo pizza is loaded with pepperoni, sausage, ham, mushrooms, green peppers and green olives.

Valerie Phillips, Special to Standard Examiner

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A hot meatball sandwich at Tony’s Pizza.

Valerie Phillips, Special to Standard Examiner

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Rigatoni is the most popular pasta served at Tony’s Pizza.

Valerie Phillips, Special to Standard Examiner

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Tina Sanchez, daughter of founder Tony Toscan, poses with a Tony’s Combo at Tony’s Pizza.

Valerie Phillips, Special to Standard Examiner

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When Tony Toscan opened Tony’s Pizza on October 5, 1963, he didn’t have much cooking experience. But he had his mother’s Italian spaghetti sauce. Anna Toscano made a gallon of it every day, and he collected it on the way to the restaurant, said Toscan’s daughter, Tina Sanchez.

“He always said when he first opened he just hoped he could stay open for six months,” said Sanchez, who runs the restaurant which is still open nearly 59 years later.

The world has changed since 1963, but not Tony’s.

It’s in the same location at 403 39th St., with the same “Tony’s” sign on the brick building.

“Our menu is the same as on the first day; we didn’t add anything to it and we didn’t take anything away from it,” Sanchez said. “If it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it. We don’t have anything on our menu that isn’t popular because it’s so basic and small.

It includes pizzas, four hot sandwiches and four pastas.

“When I see restaurants with so many pages of a menu, I wonder how do you manage to have so many items and keep them all fresh?” Sanchez said. “With a small menu, we can keep our quality high and our prices lower because we have no waste.”

The pizza menu is simple: you can order plain cheese or a Tony’s Combo, or choose from a list of classic toppings such as pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, ham, pineapple, ground beef, green and black olives and Italian sausage. . Anchovies, shrimp and jalapeños cost a little more.

Tony’s Combo is the best seller – a thin crust loaded with pepperoni, sausage, ham, mushrooms, green peppers and green olives. These green olives are a Tony tradition.

“There have always been green olives on the pizza. People like them or they don’t like them,” Sanchez said. “Black olives and pineapple were the only two toppings we added over the years. We gave in to the high demand for them.

The cheese filling is a blend of five different cheeses. “We use four different types of mozzarella and a provolone,” Sanchez said. “We’ve always done it that way.”

Of the four hot sandwiches (pastrami, meatball, sausage, and burger), the meatball sandwich is definitely the favorite.

Rigatoni is the most popular of the four pastas (spaghetti, rigatoni, cheese ravioli or cheese tortellini).

Appetizers can be served with a simple iceberg lettuce salad tossed with the house Italian oil and vinegar dressing. (The dressing is also sold by the pint.) Don’t bother asking for a ranch.

“We have our house dressing, and we don’t offer another,” Sanchez said. “People either come looking for it or they don’t order it.”

Although the dining room has a number of tables, Sanchez said the majority of business is takeout. When the COVID pandemic hit and the dining room was forced to close, they offered curbside service.

“Thanks to our customers, they have supported us all the time,” she said. “We have the best customers. Eighty percent of them come every week, on the same night of the week, and order the same thing. They say they came here with their grandmother and now they are bringing their own grandchildren.

Founder Tony Toscan grew up in Ogden. His parents, Philip and Anna Toscano, had both immigrated from Italy, Sanchez said. They met and married in Ogden.

“They took the ‘o’ out of their last name when Tony and his brother were in school. I don’t know why. Maybe to fit in more,” Sanchez said.

Toscan was working as a salesman for the Swift meatpacking plant when he opened the restaurant. At first he kept his day job and ran the restaurant after work, so it was only open for dinner.

His wife, Carolyn, and mother, Bobby Thomas, were the two servers, “and he had a buddy who helped him run the kitchen,” Sanchez said.

Over the years, the restaurant has grown to about three times its original size. Toscan first rented the building, then bought it.

Today, two of Sanchez’s children work at the restaurant, “but all of our employees are like family,” she said. “Finding help is the #1 challenge everywhere these days. We are lucky because we have so many employees who have been here for years. You wouldn’t think they would stick around for about 15 years for a part-time job, but they did.

Today, pizza is an American staple like hamburgers or hot dogs. But back when Tony’s opened in 1963, it wasn’t as common. According to food historians, the Italian “pizza pie” was primarily served in Italian-American neighborhoods prior to World War II. Then, American soldiers stationed in Italy returned home longing to taste the Italian cuisine they had enjoyed abroad.

Local pizzerias started popping up across America, and chain restaurants followed. Little Caesars was founded in 1957, Pizza Hut in 1958 and Dominos in 1960.

It’s hard to say who was the first to sell pizza in Ogden. But at least one restaurant, Rigo’s, owned by Italian immigrant Rigo Del Carlo, served it in the 1950s. An old Standard-Examiner advertisement stated that Rigo’s, at 2788 Washington Blvd., opened in 1954, and a 1957 advertisement touted the restaurant’s pizzas.

Although Rigo and his restaurant are deceased, Wynn Phillips of Pleasant View remembers working there as a teenager from 1959 to 1961, delivering and baking pizza. Palmieri’s is another long-defunct Italian restaurant on Washington Boulevard that reportedly served pizza in the late 1950s.

Also, Circle Inn Pizzeria in Clearfield (which was recently destroyed by fire) opened in 1957.

So by the time Tony’s opened in 1963, many northern Utah residents knew a little about pizza.

Over the years, competition from big chains has forced many smaller pizza places to close, but Tony’s has maintained its strong customer base. For a while, there was a Pizza Hut around the corner from Tony’s, Sanchez said, adding, “But we’re still here and they’re not.”

She started working at the family’s middle school restaurant in high school and college. After college, she taught school while working part-time at Tony’s. Then, about 25 years ago, she took a year off to help her father run the restaurant after heart surgery. She never returned to teaching and continued to work with Tony, who died in 2015.

“It’s not what I thought I was doing at that age, but that’s where my heart is,” Sanchez said.


Location: 403 39th Street, Ogden

Contact: 801-393-1985

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; close on Sunday

Price scale: $6.50 (sandwich) to $15.20 (large Tony’s Combo pizza)


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