POMPTON LAKES, NJ -- Tony’s Pizza may have its share of competition in Pompton Lakes, but it also has a combination that they don't.
Roberto Perez, who took over the business in 2006 when his late boss, Pasqual Testino, retired after 42 years, made a strategic that paid off.
Now Tony's is a top finalist in Daily Voice's DVlicious Best Pizza in Passaic competition.
Perez, 43, a borough resident and father of six, spoke only Spanish when he emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. He began working at the pizza parlor as a dishwasher, then was promoted to front counter person and cook.
Perez never finished high school. Instead, he worked seven days a week learning English -- and his way around the kitchen.
After mastering longstanding recipes, he opened his own restaurant, Ranchito. Then he decided to combine the two operations under one roof.
Testino was hesitant at first.
“He didn’t think it would be a good idea," Perez said. "Then he saw how many people knew me and liked the food."
Consistency is key, he said -- from homemade chips and salsa, fajitas, seafood, and pizza toppings on every pie.
“We use the same recipe that I learned from my boss for the sauce and the dough," Perez said. "We make everything from scratch with a lot of the same people who knew the business long ago.”
The consistency extends to the name.
Testino told him, "I want you to keep my name high," Perez recalled.
Dan Seidel, a borough resident, came if for pizza with his friend, Don Levy.
“Everybody used to come here from the high school,” Seidel said. "I like the portions and the taste," he said.
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