Vesuvio is closing permanently after 63 years

Beloved Junction pizzeria has been serving since 1957


Vesuvio Pizzeria, one of the longest-running and most beloved pizzerias in Toronto, is closing its doors for good this weekend.

“Our last day of operation for pickup and delivery will be Sunday, April 19,” the Pugliese family, who founded and own the Junction-based business, wrote in a farewell post on Facebook.

The coronavirus played a role in the decision to close, they say, making Vesuvio one of the earliest casualties in what business owners and industry watchers have warned will be a decimating event for restaurants in Toronto and elsewhere.

The business was opened in 1957 by the four Pugliese brothers and became known as one of the city’s first “New York-style” pizzerias. When they opened, the Junction was still an alcohol-free “dry” community, which made it difficult for restaurants to stay afloat in that area – but the quality of the food, the owners write, still made it a destination for diners. Alongside other local business owners, they fought to repeal the alcohol ban, which was finally eliminated in 1997.

The restaurant remained a local fixture for both dine-in and delivery – and due to its longstanding presence in the neigbourhood, it was particularly beloved among Junction residents. In NOW’s 2017 feature on Toronto’s longest-running restaurants, co-owners Ettore and Piera Pugliese shared that they were one of the only restaurants to stay open during the blackout of 2003, and that they kept serving customers even though the police tried to get everyone to clear out: “Fourteen years later, people are still thanking us for feeding them.”

Now, the family says, they’re looking forward to a little bit of downtime: “We’re proud of what we have achieved and look to the future with optimism,” they write.

Read the full post below.

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@nataliamanzocco

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