Numero Uno founder in the news in the OC
When the new owner of Izza Pizzeria in San Clemente first moved to California in 1970, he wasn’t in the restaurant business.
That changed after he discovered he couldn’t find the thick-crust, Chicago-style pizza he had grown up with. “I lived in Huntington Beach, and I was driving to Wilshire Boulevard to get pizza,” Ron Gelet recalled.
Before long, he opened a restaurant in Northridge and expanded it into a chain of restaurants he called Numero Uno, featuring his own signature crust.
Initially, the customers were people from the Midwest. Then word spread.
Today there are 17 Numero Uno restaurants, Gelet said, and while he no longer is active with Numero Uno, he still owns an interest and holds the rights to the dough. In 2013, he and his son Joe purchased a San Clemente eatery known for its Neapolitan pizza. They added New York thin-crust pizza and Chicago deep-dish pizza featuring Numero Uno crust. To round out the menu, they chose pastas, chicken and shrimp dishes.
“It’s going really well,” Ron said.
We asked Joe Gelet about the family’s new pride and joy, Izza Pizzeria:
Q. How long has Izza Pizzeria done business in San Clemente, and when did you purchase it?
A. Izza Pizzeria has been in business for four years. We have owned and operated it since August 2013.
Q. What brought you to it?
A. Liked the concept — Neapolitan pizza with a wine and beer bar, and the community.
Q. What is different about the menu now?
A. We have added N.Y.-style pizza, Numero Uno thick-crust pizza, pastas, salads, appetizers, chicken entrees, and we have greatly expanded the wine and beer selection. We also feature nightly specials. Sundays, we donate 10 percent of our food sales to the San Clemente Junior Woman’s Club for distribution as they see fit to worthy causes. Tuesday, kids eat free. Wednesday, 30 percent off all pasta dishes. Thursday, 50 percent off all bottles of wine. We also feature a daily happy hour with $5 glasses of wine, $3 and $4 bottles of beer and a Happy Hour food menu.
Q. What have you kept from the original Izza Pizzeria?
A. We have kept the Neapolitan pizza and other menu items that Izza was noted for and for the most part have kept the comfortable and relaxed atmosphere and service.
Q. What were the origins of Numero Uno deep-dish and what does it bring to San Clemente?
A. Numero Uno was founded in 1973 by my father, Ronald Gelet. Being a Chicago native, he introduced Chicago-style, thick-crust pizza to California. He is no longer involved in the day-to-day Numero Uno operations but does maintain an equity position and owns the Numero Uno dough recipe. What we bring to San Clemente, besides great pizza, food and service, is an involvement in the community. Besides our involvement with the SCJWC, we sponsor fundraisers for various schools and community organizations and groups. We are all about community involvement.
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