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TulaneLSU
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TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
The documentable birth of pizza in New Orleans starts 40 years after New York’s pizza history began. Surprising to say the least, as New Orleans experienced a similar immigration of southern Italians during the same period as New York. Not surprising was its location in the city: the French Quarter, which by this time, was colloquially known as the Italian Quarter. Was there pizza in New Orleans before August of 1945? I have no doubt. Are there records showing pizza existed in New Orleans before 1945? None that I can find in my searching through the N.O. Historic Collection.

And thus, we are able to establish that at 809 St. Louis Segreto’s Restaurant and Bar began serving pies to a neighborhood of soon-to-be upwardly mobile Italian immigrants and children of Italian immigrants. Pizza, owing to it being delicious, customizable, and cheap, soon spread from Segreto’s.

Owned and operated by Joseph John Segreto, it was a real travesty when his son, Joe, owner of Eleven 79, died in 2015. I hope there is some restauranteur remaining in the Segreto familiy. What a great thing for the city if he or she could open up a Segreto pizza parlor and emblazon it with "New Orleans style pizzas since 1945." The dearth of long lived NOLA pizza parlors is illustrated by Venezia and Tower Pizza being the oldest operating pizza vendors in town. 1945 would lend a ton more prestige in the American pizza world. Ah, to be mentioned as a pizza town in the same breath as New Haven, Chicago, Detroit, and New York.

The younger Segreto would later move to Las Vegas where he managed the famed Louis Prima, a family friend, in the autumn of Prima's life. Segreto would later run Elmwood Plantation and Broussard's, both restaurants the Metropolitan Crime Commission had strong suspicions were linked to organized Italian crime. New York and Las Vegas were not the only cities where restauranteurs, celebrities, and alleged mobsters commingled.

A year later, in 1946, just down the street, at the corner of St. Louis and Decatur, Domino’s Pizza began. Domino’s was a local Italian restaurant without connection to the delicious chain started in Michigan in 1960 by the same name. Domino’s would move in 1955 to a downtown location in the building now housing Herbsaint on St. Charles Ave. Its departure from the Italian dominated French Quarter signaled a growing acceptance of Italian food by non-Italian Americans. The restaurant would continue its move away from the heart of the city to a location at the corner of Carrollton and Tulane, where the old Rock N Bowl was before closing in the 1980s.

Two short-lived pizza joints opened shortly after Domino’s. There was an unnamed pizza takeout at 1907 Decatur, near the French Market that opened in June of 1948 followed by the first Chicago style pizza parlor at 1007 Decatur called Chicago Pizza House. There is no known extant documentation to determine if this Chicago style pizza is more in line with a Malnati’s deep dish or a crackery Vito and Nick’s.

The Italian Quarter became home to a fifth pizza outlet when Rizzo’s Restaurant began serving pizzas in 1950. Bill Rizzo, the owner, promoted himself in advertisements as “The King of Pizza.” His restaurant at 311 Bourbon St. is currently home to Cafe Beignet, where all those jazz statues stand sentinel.

Just 9 years after Segreto’s slang some slices, pizza found its way to the suburbs and the Westbank, an area that strikes so much fear in my heart I have crossed that river only once in my life. An Italian restaurant at 2800 Fourth St. in lovely Harvey, now housing The Point Restaurant and Bar, opened. This location may or may not have an interesting history with King Clancy, an unnamed mob boss, and slot machines.

By the mid 1950s, pizza was becoming an option at grocery stores. 12 inch pizza pans were sold at Schwegmann's and Appian pizza mixes were 89 cents for two 12 oz packages. Housewives began to swap recipes -- I even read a recipe for a pickle pizza! No, not this one: The Food Board Pickle Pie recipe. 1955 saw the introduction of the soon to be ubiquitous Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza mixes go on sale for 45 cents. It was the same year that frozen pizzas hit the shelves. Spino's fresh frozen cheese pizzas a mere 53 cents!

In 1956 we saw the first English muffin pizzas show up in local New Orleans cookbooks. Also, canned pizza sauce appeared on grocery lists. It was the year Gibby's Restaurant opened at 616 N. Rampart St. An area often considered the birthplace of Jazz, and previously, Storyville, in the 50s it was a hotbed for organized Italian crime. Many Metropolitan Crime Commission gambling raids took place in the neighborhood. In the 70s, Gibby's was replaced with Mama Rosa’s Slice of Italy. Today, it is being renovated, likely to be turned into luxury condos for trust fund Tulane alumni from NJ-NY. It was also in 1956 that Lakeview got its first pizza joint at 6261 Marshal Foch.

Metairie Civitans has the distinction in 1957 of becoming the first group to host an official pizza party. Wow! Little did they know what they were starting. Soon to be duplicated by other groups like St. Mary’s Social Club, pizza parties were for a time in the late 50s and 60s what fish fries and crawfish boil fundraisers are today.

The history of pizza in New Orleans is not immune to prejudice and discrimination. A sad reminder of this is highlighted in a Times Picayune classified ad for Artista Pizza Restaurant at 2941 Franklin Ave. In 1957, the restaurant was seeking "PIZZA MAKER -- WHITE" and "White Waitresses Wanted" (June 11, 1957 and September 13, 1957). No, this was not a red vs white pizza debate. Artista's owner, Walter Forschler, later would open his first Tower of Pizza on 4428 Downman in the East in 1966 at the latest. Several months later the Metairie location, still open today, was open. The same family also opened Dino's, which seemed to pop open and close throughout the Metro area. If memory serves me correctly, there was a Dino's in the Boot at Tulane before the Boot started making its own pizza. Dino's made an excellent pie.

I must sadly end this pizza story, as my manager just entered and said I have to get to work.
This post was edited on 9/10 at 2:46 pm


Fun Bunch
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
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re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
one of the great trolls of TD makes his triumphant return


arseinclarse
USA Fan
Gentilly
Member since Apr 2007
27346 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
You left out Sicily's



Ed Osteen
New Orleans Saints Fan
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re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
Am I confusing him with another old Tulane poster or did he used to argue in every thread he participated in


arseinclarse
USA Fan
Gentilly
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27346 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
quote:

used to argue in every thread he participated in


Only about religion


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60
t00f
New Orleans Saints Fan
Eating CCBBQ in the zone
Member since Jul 2016
31233 posts
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re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
quote:

You left out Sicily's


and Moma Rosa's, GOAT



LSUballs
LSU Fan
RayVegas LA
Member since Feb 2008
31747 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
I thought about you the other day when I was not in Whole Foods dining on their delicious and non-existent Smoked Cheeseburger. Top burger I’ve never eaten.


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TulaneLSU
TBD Fan
Member since Aug 2003
Member since Dec 2007
8715 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
You did not read my words if you believe I left out Mama Rosa's Slice of Italy.


Paul Allen
Notre Dame Fan
Montauk, NY
Member since Nov 2007
57416 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
I think Venezia is great


TigerWise
USA Fan
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re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
Pizza Tours


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60
TD SponsorTD Fan
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Member since Jan 2013
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re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
Mama Rosa: "we deliver beer and cigarettes"

That's how you assimilate.


TulaneLSU
TBD Fan
Member since Aug 2003
Member since Dec 2007
8715 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
I enjoy Venezia as well.

Pizza tours will hold a backseat to poorboy tours. New Orleans pizza does not have a heritage that is present today in open restaurants that could sustain a historical pizza tour.

I will try to expand this history beyond 1957 for your edification. Cici's first location in NOLA Metro was the Chateau location in Kenner, 1995. It holds a minuscule part in the story of pizza in the Crescent City. First announced March 12, 1995, it did not open until June 18 of that year. It offered all-you-can eat for $2.99. Jones may remember this location well, as it was next to a Major Video.
This post was edited on 9/10 at 1:30 pm


Hulkklogan
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge, LA
Member since Oct 2010
37429 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957


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411
Paul Allen
Notre Dame Fan
Montauk, NY
Member since Nov 2007
57416 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957


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Stadium Rat
LSU Fan
Metairie
Member since Jul 2004
7819 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
Mama Rosa's had a huge muffuletta that you could cut into 9 pieces, each the size of a quarter of a normal muff. It was cut like a tic tac toe board. The middle piece was a square.
This post was edited on 9/10 at 1:44 pm


NOLATiger71
LSU Fan
New Orleans
Member since Dec 2017
836 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
What was pizza like here in NOLA in 1945? What was the style? Sicilian, Brooklyn, thick, thin, etc.?


arseinclarse
USA Fan
Gentilly
Member since Apr 2007
27346 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
quote:

Mama Rosa


Nearly killed John Walton a few decades early.


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01
TulaneLSU
TBD Fan
Member since Aug 2003
Member since Dec 2007
8715 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
That I do not know. You would have to ask a member of the Segreto family.

According to Tom Fitzmorris's message board, Sam and Barbara Domino, who served the second known pizza in the city at their Domino's Restaurant, cooked it NY style:
quote:

Domino's "pizza pie" (which is what the menu and neon signs called it) was clearly based on the New York model, and it was well executed. Its thin crust held a restrained layer of sauce and cheese, plus everything else that you ordered on it. Perhaps their most distinctive pie was a garlic pizza: a cheese job sprinkled with a great deal of garlic. It was delicious, and as long as your date also ate it you wouldn't regret ordering it. Domino's set an atmospheric standard, too: a dark space only lightly renovated from some past use, with a juke box with a mix of hits from two highly disparate eras of popular music.


LINK

Unfortunately, much of what Fitzmorris has on that page is incorrect or inaccurate.
This post was edited on 9/10 at 2:14 pm


KosmoCramer
Ohio State Fan
Member since Dec 2007
63045 posts
 Online 

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
You are a treasure to this board.

Never change.

To quote the old Scottish adage, It's a great life; if you don't weaken.


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51
Fat Harry
Tulane Fan
70115
Member since Mar 2005
1613 posts

re: TulaneLSU's history of pizza in New Orleans from 1945 to 1957
Had Domenica's pizza yesterday and it was still fantastic.


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