By Lisa Collins-Haynes, Contributing Writer
The famous food critic Craig Claiborne once said, “Cooking, when done with care, is an act of love.” Nothing could be truer of the food made by Tom Nonnan and Pina Gambino-Nonnan at Presto! Pizza in Lake Ridge.
On Dec. 6 the Nonnans will celebrate three years of owning the family food establishment. The couple took a leap of faith and started the business, after years of experience in the restaurant industry, when a pizzeria closed, creating an opportunity to purchase the space.
The secret to their business’s success, according to Gambino- Nonnan, is “fresh ingredients and excellent customer service.”
Every part of the pizza is made from scratch, from the dough to the homemade sauce, she explained. “We don’t use anything from a can. We hand chop our salads and even grow our own herbs,” Gambino-Nonnan said. Almost as proof, oregano can be seen growing from a ﬂower pot in front of the pizzeria.
Additionally, they only use extra virgin olive oil imported from Italy, stated Gambino-Nonnan, who hails from Sicily.
“Absolutely the Best Pizza I’ve Ever Had” Patron Svea Krajack, during a visit to Presto! Pizza with her children, said the pizzeria, recommended by another family years ago, is the only place her family goes for pizza.
“I’m [originally] from Philly, so I’m accustomed to quality food and ﬂavors. I’ve found that and more at Presto and because of the fresh ingredients they use, it’s the perfect meal to have after a long day,” said Krajack, a Lake Ridge resident who was picking up dinner following a visit to the Prince William County Fair. Her children agreed that Presto is a family favorite.
Another customer wrote on Presto! Pizza’s Facebook page, “Y’all made us feel so wonderful today when we came in. We loved our pizzas! Specially my gluten-free pizza! Absolutely the best pizza I’ve ever had!”
When asked about a signature dish, Gambino-Nonnan said she believes it is the Pizza Margherita. It’s described on the menu as the “Queen of Pizza,” with crushed Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Romano cheese, fresh basil and extra virgin oil.
Krajack swore by the Cu Casciu Focaccia. “I can eat the whole box by myself on the drive home,” she said.
The secret behind their popular pizza? “There’s no secret. We like to share what we know with people, and we know that freshness is the key,” said Gambino-Nonnan. “We don’t use generic products. It’s worth [it] to pay more, [because the] results, they are great.”
In addition to its namesake dish, Presto! Pizza oﬀers pasta, baked specialties, salads, deli sandwiches, hot wings and an assortment of desserts.
Preserving Italian Tradition
In making pizza from scratch, the traditional Italian way, the Nonnans are preserving what some say is becoming a lost art. This April, ABC News reported that Italy was experiencing a shortage of Italian pizza makers. The report cited long hours, hard work and relatively low pay as reasons given for the decline.
Gambino-Nonnan said the report saddens her and that her family business will be a legacy for her children. The family is already integral to the business, she stated. She said that her two grown sons and daughter, along with her three grandchildren, all help and know every aspect of the business’s procedures.
She added that she and her husband of 37 years work well together and she would be lost without him by her side in running the pizzeria. Couples working together successfully “can be done— with patience, respect, setting goals together and keeping in mind what is best for the customers they service,” she stated.
Delivering First-Class Customer Service
The Nonnans’ family and staﬀ also know that equally valuable to providing a quality product is delivering ﬁrst-class customer service, Gambino-Nonnan said. Each staﬀ member has been trained to answer the phones correctly and work with customers, ensuring that they are always satisﬁed.
Presto! Pizza is not only family owned, but also family oriented. The owners and staﬀ get to know their customers, share in their lives and even watch their children grow, Gambino- Nonnan explained.
Participating in a “Community of Kindness” Presto! Pizza has also gotten great results from its community endeavors, she said, adding that her family believes in the “community of kindness” and that by giving, they will, in turn, receive.
She said that participating in silent auctions for area schools, church fundraiser events and other charitable eﬀorts have allowed the pizzeria owners to get to know their neighbors and to contribute to the people of Prince William.
Gambino-Nonnan welcomes all to the family’s business at 4135 Merchant Plaza in Lake Ridge. There’s always a special going on and the menu oﬀers something for everyone, she said. View the full menu and current specials online at www.prestopizzas.com.
Lisa Collins-Haynes lives in Woodbridge with her husband and daughter and is a freelance entertainment and travel writer and self- professed out-of-control travel spirit (OCTS). She invites everyone to follow her travel blog at www.octsblogger.wordpress.com. She can be reached at [email protected].