A popular, family-run Italian restaurant that’s been operating in Toronto’s west end for over 60 years has announced it will be closing for good because of the strain brought on by COVID-19.
Vesuvio Pizzeria and Spaghetti House, which was founded by the Pugliese family in the Junction neighbourhood, said in a Facebook post their last day of operation for pick-up and delivery will be April 19.
“The decision to close was a difficult one, but like many restaurants, our business has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis,” the statement said. “We at Vesuvio have proudly served our valued customers and the community for over 63 years, but the time has come to say farewell.”
According to the restaurant’s website, Vesuvio was the first New York-style pizzeria in Toronto.
“Either directly or indirectly, about half of today’s pizza industry in Toronto learned from or were influenced by the Pugliese brothers at Vesuvio,” it states. “They were the first, finest, and most knowledgeable experts on pizza in Toronto and they set the standard for the rest of the city.”
Vesuvio was started by brothers Dominic and Ettore (Eddie) Pugliese with their father Rocco in 1957 on Dundas Street West in the Junction. Two years earlier, Dominic had lived in New York City, where he learned how to make New York-style pizza from a man who owned a bakery called Vesuvio.
Following the Toronto business opening, the two other Pugliese brothers, Attilio and Corrado, came from Italy to join the family venture.
“We have always felt that Vesuvio is more than a restaurant. It’s a labour of love, it’s our second home, it’s where our families have grown up, it’s part of the community,” the family said in the Facebook post.
Fought and won Junction alcohol ban
The business opened while the Junction neighbourhood was under prohibition, which made it difficult for restaurants to operate at the time.
“They understood that the public wanted to eat their Italian food with red wine and their pizza with beer,” the website states.
For almost two decades, the business partnered with other business owners to fight the dry designation until it was finally abolished in 1997.
“We’re proud of what we have achieved and look to the future with optimism,” the statement reads. “And after 63 years, we’re also looking forward to a little downtime. We have good memories that we’ll cherish forever.”