nicky's pizza 03 - sunday biz 03

Things have been happening quickly for Cristian Inzillo: In less than a year’s time, he met his future wife, moved to Johnstown, married and is expecting a son.

But the 40-year-old is not done yet, as he’s making arrangements to open a downtown Johnstown eatery that he says will “take gourmet dining and add it to a pizza shop.”

Having spent more than half his life in the restaurant business, Inzillo knows exactly what he wants to bring to the downtown. And he has no worries about locating Nicky’s Pizza, Pasta & Subs in a neighborhood that has struggled to retain a strong retail base.

“I think there’s an opportunity, not just for me, but for other people looking to open a business downtown,” Inzillo said.

Nicky’s will operate in a storefront at 134 Gazebo Park, a Central Park location last occupied by a Cuban restaurant called Rolando’s.

Though the windows bear the restaurant’s name, potential customers will have to wait a bit: Inzillo will open before year’s end, possibly by late November.

But he said there already have been “tons of people” stopping by to chat or look over a proposed menu.

That menu includes a variety of pizza, sandwiches, wraps and pasta. But there also are veal and chicken entrees along with salads.

There are three well-established pizza/Italian food shops within a few blocks. But Inzillo said he believes he can succeed and bolster the downtown’s business climate.

“I came here to bring business downtown,” he said. “We’re going to be different.”

That difference, Inzillo said, will come from his extensive experience and his New York upbringing.

Natives of Italy, Inzillo’s family moved to the New York area when he was 9. His father worked as a New York City police officer, while his mother ran an Italian-American deli in New Jersey.

At age 19, Inzillo bought his first pizzeria in New Jersey. He also has owned shops in New York, West Virginia and Georgia.

He met his future wife Nicole, a Johns-town resident, on the Internet dating site eHarmony. Inzillo subsequently relocated and married, and the couple is expecting a son named Nicholas next month.

The Johnstown restaurant bears his unborn son’s name, and Inzillo said it will feature his personal touch with Italian cooking.

“I’m a working owner. I’m the chef,” he said.

Inzillo pledges to buy local and buy regularly, keeping ingredients fresh. He will make fresh dough daily and also promises to introduce new recipes to the area.

“We’ll bring some new pasta dishes and other dishes that local pizzerias are not going to give you,” he said, adding that he will offer specialties such as a German pizza (which features toppings including sauteed sirloin steak, onions and peppers.)

The restaurant will seat about 40 and will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Inzillo said the business may open on Sundays and Mondays during football season or special events.

There will be pickup and delivery service available.

The pending opening of Nicky’s will mean one less vacant storefront in the Central Business District.

There has been some bad news over the last 18 months for downtown diners, as two longtime eateries – Johnnie’s Restaurant and Lounge and Santoyo’s – closed their doors.

One positive restaurant-related development was the relocation and expansion earlier this year of Em’s Original Sub Shop’s downtown location, now at 434 Main St.

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