PITTSBURGH — After nearly seven decades in business, an East Liberty staple served up its last order on Saturday.
“It’s been an unbelievable blessing from the East Liberty community. I’m so happy. The outpouring of love was just incredible,” said Al Vento Jr., owner of Vento’s Pizza.
Vento’s family has run the beloved pizza shop for 67 years. The restaurant was opened by Al Vento Sr. after he returned from a career in the military.
“I am 67 years old and my father when we came back from Korea he started a family and a business,” said Vento.
Since its opening, the restaurant has found a place in the heart of the local community, something the owner takes pride in.
“My dad had a lot of connections to a lot of different people and passed it on to me. I did exactly the same. Treat people with love and respect, you get love and respect back. I loved everyone in my shop,” said Vento.
Vento was not the only one spreading the love on Saturday. Community members who popped in spent a lot of time remembering fond memories of visits they had made to the store in the past.
“I grew up being in this place since I was a kid, since 6 years old,” said Lorenz Ryce. “My pap-pap used to pick me up and get me pizza. I’d get a quarter for the gumball machine. I’d say hello to Mr. Vento.”
The restaurant was running out of food hours before it was scheduled to close due to the overwhelming support coming from community members stopping in to bid the business farewell.
“It’s more than a pizza place to me,” said Stephanie Ware.
The historic shop has been home to Franco Harris’s “Italian Army.” It was considered one of the greatest NFL fan clubs in history when it was created in 1972. Stars from Pittsburgh and beyond were known to visit Vento’s and enjoy a slice over the decades.
“They have a lot of Steeler’s stuff, a lot of autographs from a lot of good players,” said Ryce.
Al Vento Jr. said he is ready to bid farewell to the business and get ready to enjoy his retirement.
“I just want to tell the community thank you so, so much and we love you all,” said Vento.
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