|De Lucia's Pizza Celebrates its 100th Anniversary|
|This year De Lucia’s Pizza of Raritan is celebrating its 100th Anniversary.
In 1917 founder Costantino De Lucia started the business which began as a bakery.
(Pizza was not popular in the U.S. till the 1950s.)
|Costantino is on the right|
click for full photo
|Costantino De Lucia was born in Naples, Italy in 1886. He immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Raritan.
Records confirm that he first opened a bakery in Raritan in 1917. His initial place of business was right along Somerset Street in front of where the Liquor Savor store is today. That location had been a bakery since 1860. So it appears that Costantino took over that business. Records also seem to point out that his place of business then was also his home – a situation that was common back then. The building that held his first bakery is no longer standing. It was later a small apartment building and was knocked down around the late sixties when the current small shopping center was designed.
|Costantino only stayed at that location for around two years. After that he moved his bakery to Somerville. The reason he moved there is not known.
The 1919 business directory shows De Lucia’s Bakery at 171 W. Main Street in Somerville. That location was (diagonally) across from where “The Melting Pot” is today. (“The Regent Theatre” was then in the location of “The Melting Pot”.) Today the entire row of buildings that was on Delucia’s side of Main Street is now gone. It is just open area.
|After a few years in Somerville Costantino De Lucia moved his bakery back to Raritan.
The 1927 business directory shows that he moved to 100 W. Somerset Street. That is the large house on the North-West corner of Somerset Street and First Avenue which is right next to Delucia’s Pizza’s present location. He would live and have his business at 100 W. Somerset Street for a year or two. Then he built the building that we know today next door at 1 First Avenue.
|An ad from 1933|
|Costantino wanted to cook his products with a clean source of fuel so he decided to heat his brick oven with oil as opposed to coal.
The technique required that the oven be warmed up for four hours. When the heating ends, the cooking can start. So basically, the oven is turned off when it cooks.
Obviously, the brick oven holds the heat for a good part of the day in order to cook.
That original cooking technique designed way back when is still used today in the same brick oven. Over three million pizzas and countless millions of pieces of bread have been cooked in that oven. Today’s owner Christian De Lucia says that he does not know of any other place that cooks the way he does. Their way of cooking gives their pizza its unique taste.
|Still the same oven|
|From 1928 till around 1940 the entire interior of the bakery was for cooking and storage space. There was no seating.
By 1940 seating was added and it proved to be a hit. John Pacifico recalls that during his high school days in the 1940s that De Lucia’s was one
of the top spots for teenagers to go to.
In its early days - the 1920s and 30s – the business directories list De Lucia’s as a “Wholesale Bakery” – meaning they provided other places large volumes of goods. That was in addition to the walk-in business where the public made small purchases. Family lure says that in the early years that their baked goods were delivered by a horse drawn cart to places as far away as Martinsville.
|In the 1940s they added pizza to the menu. The popularity of pizza grew tremendously after “World War II” when the soldiers who had tasted pizza in Europe came home. By the 1950s pizza took over the menu and the business became De Lucia’s Pizza instead of De Lucia’s Bakery.|
|A peek inside the oven|
|Costantino De Lucia passed away in 1978. His son Joe along with Joe’s sons Allie and Buddy would run the business after that.
Joe passed away in 1989. Allie and Buddy ran De Lucia’s until Allie’s death in 2015.
Today the business is run by Allie’s son Christian – the great-grandson of Costantino De Lucia. Christian says that he feels that he has a responsibility to continue the tradition of providing a good product to the community. He indeed does just that.
|Christian at work|
|The business today has reminders of its history.
On the wall in the dining room is a portrait of its founder.
|In the kitchen, besides the original oven, they still use the original
“dough bins” and “assembly table” that were used when that location first opened.