After more than three successful decades in Dyker Heights, Vaccaro Pizza Royale has closed up shop.
The longstanding pizzeria which also operated a trattoria for part of its history had been a neighborhood staple, at home at 6718 Fort Hamilton Parkway since the early ’80s.
Until late last year, Vaccaro’s doubled as your average, though well-loved pizza place as well as a small-scale but elegant sit-down eatery, the former founded by restaurateur Dom Vaccaro (who is retiring) in 1983, the latter an offshoot opened around 2000. Now the flagship pizzeria has joined its restaurant on the other side.
The business once neighbored the long-shuttered Fortway Movie Theater, now an Asian supermarket.
Longtime patrons remembered both fondly while mourning yet another loss for the community.
“The movie theater and Vaccaro’s were inextricably intertwined in those years, playing off of one another and helping sustain each other’s business,” recalled Bay Ridge resident and co-founder of the popular “South Brooklyn Food and Drink” Facebook page Bianca Papas.
Papas looked back on growing up in local establishments such as Vaccaro’s.
“We came of age in that neighborhood when the Fortway was still the social hub of the packs of teenagers that roamed around Brooklyn streets,” she told this paper, adding that, while it may be hard to imagine this day and age, back in the day, pizzerias like Vaccaro’s were the place to be for local teens. “We didn’t really hang out at each other’s houses. We just kind of cut classes and walked around together, periodically sneaking into a matinee showing via an unattended back entrance [at the Fortway], wasting time until we could get some pizza next door.”
Vaccaro, she said, “was a tough Italian guy who wouldn’t allow us in there during the week before 3 p.m. so that was really our clubhouse after ‘school.’”
Frank Tilelli, fellow co-founder of the hyperlocal foodie Facebook page, spoke of Vaccaro’s footprint in both the ‘hood and within his own family.
“It started a long love affair with me of having a slice before going to the movies,” he said. “I remember going there with my dad as a kid. My father loved the movies and pizza and he passed it on to me.”
Owners, who have taken the time to thank the community with a poster-size scrawl on Vaccaro’s front door, are just as sad to see their beloved eatery go.
“We would like to take [the] opportunity to thank all our customers and friends and everyone that we had the pleasure to serve over our 35 years at this location,” the Vaccaro family said. “Many of you have become more than customers and our gratitude is really immeasurable for your love and support over the years.”
Its food, locals agree, will be missed.
“It’s traditional Italian cuisine but we do our own spin on it,” family member Michael Vaccaro told this paper in 2013 when we sampled its fares for a dining review. “We want our customers wanting more.”
Now, with its gates down and the “thank you” on the window, they certainly do.
“It’s very sad,” said Papas. “It was a big part of our youth. It seemed like it would be there forever.”