Combining only the freshest ingredients with classic southern Italian recipes that have been perfected over several generations results in quality dishes that thrill the taste buds with every bite — which is precisely what makes Ferraro’s Pizza one of Bradenton’s most popular Italian eateries.
Ferraro’s — the name of which is derived from an antiquated Italian word for iron worker, according to co-owner and executive chef, Sal LoGrande — opened the doors of its first location in New Jersey in 1980, just a few years after LoGrande’s grandparents emigrated to the United States, bringing their family recipes from their home in Palermo, Sicily.
Simple, classic Italian dishes such as hand-tossed pizza and pasta characterize the majority of the menu at Ferraro’s, but from submarine sandwiches to Veal Puttanesca, there is a diverse range of options from which to choose. From the pizza dough to the sauces and the sausage, every ingredient in Ferraro’s dishes is made in-house, using the same techniques and recipes the family brought from Italy in the 1970s.
Plain cheese and pepperoni pizza are staples, but the menu also contains variations of the classic dish with inventive twists, such as buffalo chicken pizza and the “stuffed pizza,” which consists of pepperoni, sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions and black olives stuffed between two crusts.
LoGrande, who was born and raised in New Jersey, grew up in the kitchen with his father and grandparents and participated in the family business from an early age. By the time he and his wife moved to Sarasota in 2005, there were seven Ferraro’s locations throughout New Jersey, and it didn’t take long for the family to expand the business into Florida. With his brother and father, LoGrande opened the first Bradenton Ferraro’s Pizza just outside the Village of the Arts at 817 14th Street in 2007.
“We knew we were taking a chance because we didn’t really know the area very well and our customers didn’t know us,” said LoGrande, “but we liked Bradenton, and when we came across this location, we saw a lot of potential.”
The LoGrande family purchased the location in June of 2007 and had the restaurant up and running within just three months. The grand opening party in November, 2007 drew more than 250 people, and from that point forward, the restaurant’s popularity spread rapidly through word of mouth.
“My father, brother and I have been opening and running restaurants for more than 20 years, but I can honestly say the clientele in Bradenton is the most dedicated I’ve ever come across,” said LoGrande.
The success of Bradenton’s first Ferraro’s on 14th Street led to two more locations, one of which opened in Parrish in 2009 and the other in east Bradenton last November.
“We owe that to the people of Bradenton,” said LoGrande. “The outstanding support we’ve received from our customers is what provides us with the opportunity to expand in Florida.
Today, the original Bradenton Ferraro’s is a popular lunch spot for the downtown crowd, as well as a family-friendly restaurant that draws a loyal customer base in the evenings.
“Our philosophy is pretty simple: The food is good, the prices are fair and it’s always clean,” said LoGrande. “It isn’t a five-star restaurant, but our customers know us by name, and that good family feeling is what we’re all about.”