Ask Chef Michael Mozzicato about Anthony Bruno and he’ll say that 13 years ago, before the two men launched Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and became a local success, Bruno was a good boss and respected his talent.
Ask Bruno about Mozzicato and he’ll say Mozzicato was one of the best servers at Anthony’s Runway 84, an iconic Italian restaurant and lounge near the Fort Lauderdale airport. Mozzicato also made a pretty good pizza.
“I’d make pizza for the guys just for the fun of it,” Mozzicato said. Bruno, who grew up enjoying pizza from Brooklyn’s finest shops, was both a fan of Mozzicato’s creation and a dreamer. “He was never able to open a pizzeria because he was too busy at the restaurant. I guess I came into the picture at the right time.”
Bruno and Mozzicato celebrated Monday in North Miami, where Anthony’s Pizza opened its 50th location at the Causeway Square near 123rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard. The company touts its “authentic 800-degree coal-burning ovens to create well done pizza,” cooked with Bruno’s hometown in mind.
But the store’s 2002 success in Fort Lauderdale, Bruno said, was nothing more than a “Pizza Dream Team” of skilled workers and leaders.
Miami Dolphins Hall of Famer Dan Marino joined Bruno and Mozzicato after the restaurant first launched. The three later opened a store in Weston, where Marino lives.
“Danny and I have been friends since the mid-’80s,” Bruno said. Marino was also a customer of Anthony’s Runway 84.
“We made a deal and we opened up the second store in Weston, and then I put a group of guys together, friends of mine that have different skills with Danny included, and we started expanding,” Bruno said.
Anthony’s Pizza has opened locations throughout Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Delaware.
Marino said a company culture of “being about people” makes each store a place where coworkers often become family.
“Seeing some of the kids that worked with us, grow up, starting out as waiters, and now they’re managers. Over the years it's been great,"Marino said.
Bruno said the leaders in Anthony’s Pizza also do charity work around their community. The Anthony’s team is active within the Dan Marino Foundation, which does research to help children with neurodevelopment disabilities.
Bruno also empowers each restaurant manager to go out and see how the store can better its respective community. Food –– and pizza especially –– should be about friends, family and a community of people who stand together.
“We’re keeping it close,” Bruno said, adding that both Marino and Bruno opened restaurants in their old neighborhoods. “And you’ll still have some money left in your wallet.”
The North Miami restaurant officially opened Tuesday. The hours of operation are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.