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Mastic Beach pizza queen retires after five decades; sells John’s Pizza to new owners

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Parting is such sweet sorrow for the Mastic Beach community as it says goodbye to a woman who fed their families for generations.

Angela Nuccio, a matriarchal local business leader for nearly five decades, closed the doors to John’s Pizza for the final time Sunday evening.

“I’m getting older, I’ve been here for 50 years,” Nuccio, 76, said. “It’s hard for me to stand 11 hours on my feet. I think I’ve had enough for 50 years.”

The pizza parlor will reopen under new management in coming weeks. Its new owners plan to repaint the building’s famed pink siding another color, Nuccio said, and rename the 49-year-old institution.

Nuccio and her husband John met in the United States after emigrating from Italy. They bought and named John’s Pizza just a few short months after they wed in 1973. It was a busy year, as they had their first child shortly thereafter.

John Nuccio passed away 35 years ago at 44, and Angela Nuccio continued to run the business with the help of her middle child, Josephine Nuccio.

“I was making pizza boxes at four, answering the phones at 7, waiting tables at 10, making heroes and easy diners at 12, at 16 I took over the kitchen,” Josephine Nuccio, 44, said. “I grew up here, and a lot of customers are family.”

“My customers, I’ve known them for 50 years,” Angela Nuccio said of what she’ll miss most. “They kept coming back, and I’m going to miss them.”

New owners may use some familiar flavors

Although she cannot take her customers with her, Angela Nuccio has other treasures to pack up. Tuesday evening, she and Josephine packed away five decades worth of personal effects. They removed an award for best margherita slice, and carried out a wine wrack a customer made for them by hand.

“I’m taking everything home,” Angela Nuccio said. “There’s too many memories to leave here.”

Flowers customers brought in for their lifelong pizza chef still lined the counter, where also laid a journal, in which dozens of customers wrote their goodbyes.

“Dear Mrs. Noccio, first off we would love to thank you for the kindness you have shown our family,” an entry from the Milano family reads. “Your family is like a second family to us… We give you all our love.”

Although she is cleaning house, Angela Nuccio left an invaluable gift for the new owners: her and her late husband’s recipes.

“They’re buying the place, that’s the least I can do for them,” she said. “The people I used to have food for, if they come here and it’s the same taste, they’ll come back.”

After helping the incoming owners transition into the business and the community, Josephine Nuccio plans to focus on Cozy Corner’s Village Pet and Feed, her pet shop just across the street.

Angela Nuccio — who used to grow the herbs for John’s Pizza’s recipes herself — will put her love of plants to use at her daughter’s pet shop and help her foster a nursery while she enjoys retirement.

“I told her I worked for her for 40 years,” Josephine Nuccio said with a laugh, “now she can work for me.”