A Part of Local History – Our Restaurant Then & Now

Coruzzi brothers (left to right): Peter, John, & Anthony.

The Coruzzi brothers (left to right): Peter, John, & Anthony.

In 1950, at age 16, John Coruzzi, Pizza John’s founder, immigrated to America from his hometown of Abruzzi, Italy. His first job was as a baker in East Baltimore, but his dream was always to have his own Italian restaurant. In 1966, after 10 years working as a Pizza maker and learning his craft at Squire’s Italian Restaurant in Baltimore, John decided to go into business for himself and opened the original Pizza John’s Carryout in a storefront at 131 ½ Back River Neck Rd., in Essex, Md.

Only three months later, with business thriving, John was joined by his younger brother, Peter, who also travelled from Italy to follow the American dream. One year later, they were joined by Anthony, the youngest of the Coruzzi brothers.

Our original location from 1966-76 (left) before we moved to our current location in 1977.

Our original location from 1966-76 (left) before we moved to our current location in 1977.

For the next 10 years, the trio worked incredibly long hours, seven days a week, to make the restaurant successful. With the business rapidly expanding, and needing more space, in 1977, Pizza John’s moved from its original 600 square foot location to a new, 2,500 square foot, free-standing facility. This new location was located just down the street at 113 Back River Neck Rd., and still serves as our present, and only location. Although the business was still carryout only at the time, Pizza John’s began to expand its menu to include more items.

Pizza John's first dining room, seating 80 guests.

Pizza John’s first dining room, seating 80 guests.

In 1981, the first dining room, with seating for 80 guests, was built. This was the first time in Pizza John’s history that customers could enjoy their meals while dining inside the restaurant. The next expansion came in 1985 when the greenhouse, with seating for 44, was added to the façade.

Throughout the 1990s, Pizza John’s would undergo a number of expansions and remodeling projects to better serve our customers. Some of the many improvements included additional kitchen and food prep areas, as well as expanded counter space.

When John and Anthony retired in 2001, Brett and Melissa Steall (Coruzzi), the next generation, joined Peter as business partners to help take Pizza John’s into the future, including the most dramatic expansions and improvements to date.

From 2003-04, Pizza John’s embarked on the most extensive renovation and expansion since moving in 1977. The expansion included a completely redesigned exterior, reminiscent of the classic Tuscan style, which also added an addition 100 seats, an ice cream bar, and additional parking.

Pizza John's at present day, with seating for 320 guests throughout 5 dining rooms.

Pizza John’s at present day, with seating for 320 guests throughout 5 dining rooms.

Only eight years later, in 2012, the restaurant was again expanded to add 100 more seats, increasing our current capacity to 320. Presently, Pizza John’s now seats customers in five separate dining rooms, complete with a fireplace, and numerous flat screen televisions. Our parking lot is more than accommodating, with 204 total parking spaces.

Since opening in 1966, for over 50 years, Pizza John’s has always endeavored to meet customer demand, while focusing on consistently serving quality products that our customers have come to expect.