1923 - Nazzereno Romano Emigrated From Italy
Nazzareno Romano was born in 1898 and by the time he was 23 or 24 years old, he was active in the resistance against Benito Mussolini, founder of fascism and leader of Italy from 1922 to 1943 Nat left Italy in 1923 after Mussolini became Prime Minister in October of the 1922.
A stone mason by trade, Nat worked on several projects in the Philadelphia area including Villanova University and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
During the depression in 1935, Nat’s relative, “Big Uncle”, owned the old Boston Bakery on the corner of 20th & Sigel Street and Nat made and sold pizzas out of a wagon cart along Washington Street in South Philadelphia as a way to make money to support his family.
Nat would make square pies with a cooked marinara sauce and no cheese. These pies became known as the “South Philly Tomato Pie”.
1944 - Nat Opens The Essington Pizzeria
After the unexpected death of his wife Josephine in 1939, Nazzereno moved to Essington, PA with his children Pete and Ceil. Drawing from the modest ‘success’ of his time selling pizza on the streets of South Philadelphia, Nat opened the Essington Pizzeria on December 1, 1944.
At that time, no one in the Essington area knew what a pizza was and Nat’s Tomato Pies became extremely popular. For the rest of his life, Nazzereno was know in Essignton as ‘Mr. Pizzeria’
Nat didn’t know it at the time, but his quaint little pizza shop would change his family’s life for generations to come.