By Tim Kelly
One of Ocean City’s hardest-working couples is the new force behind Piccini Wood Fired Brick Oven Pizza and Restaurant.
Tony Galante and his wife, Janet, longtime proprietors of the 13th Street Bath House, a 75-car parking lot and two bike rental establishments at 13th and the Boardwalk and 10th and Atlantic, have gone public with their latest enterprise: ownership of the well-known eatery at 13th Street and West Avenue.
Tony, who for more than three decades was a teacher and head wrestling coach at Ocean City High School, and Janet, also a former OCHS teacher, cheerleading coach and an active volunteer for several charitable organizations, purchased and began operating the business in November.
The Galantes intentionally “flew under the radar” for the first few months, Tony said, because they wanted to learn and stay true to the existing brand before going public.
With that accomplished, Tony and Janet are not only proudly announcing the transfer of ownership from former proprietor Dave Cates, but also that they have expanded the old dinner-only delivery service to include lunch deliveries for the first time.
Piccini will deliver lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, Tony said.
“We didn’t want to fix anything that wasn’t broken and to make sure we would continue to have kept Piccini’s going seamlessly through the transition of ownership,” he said. “We are blessed with a loyal following. We wanted to show we’re staying true to what makes Piccini great.”
In the winter months, construction workers, office employees and other customers have responded positively to the expanded deliveries, Tony said.
The restaurant also offers take-out and sit-down service and virtually the same expansive menu of pasta, seafood and chicken dishes, soups, a wide range of salads, calzones, sandwiches, cheesesteaks, hoagies, appetizers, sides and, of course, the full line of signature wood fired, brick oven gourmet and traditional pizzas. The “dinners” are available on-site or delivered at any time Piccini is open.
Hustling service, and getting it done with a smile and a kind word have always been hallmarks of the Galante-run businesses.
“We believe in the golden rule and being nice to everyone, and that if you are kind to people, good things will come back to you,” Tony said in a previous interview. “Business is very competitive. We are very grateful for our customers and strive to show them how much we appreciate their business, not just to talk about it.”
With that attitude at the top, it’s not surprising we were received so warmly by the person answering the phone, as well as the wait staff and pizzamakers during a recent visit – as a customer and not in our reporter’s role.
That is the Galante way, which does not go unnoticed around town. The couple was honored as Citizens of the Year several years back by the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, and patrons return the love as well.
“I haven’t had pizza this good since visiting Italy,” wrote a TripAdvisor.com reviewer. Of the 362 reviews, 308 judged Piccini to be either the top “excellent” level or second-best “very good.”
“I really like their chicken cheesesteaks,” enthused regular customer Saundra Stokes of Egg Harbor Township, a former Ocean City resident who was ordering take-out on Sunday with her granddaughter, Layla Ferrell, also of EHT.
“For me, it’s the pizza,” said 10-year-old Layla. “I like it with pepperoni.”
She can take advantage of a favorite Piccini tradition, Sunday-through-Thursday “Kid’s Nights,” when youngsters under 12 can make their own pizza pie for $3.99 from 5-8 p.m.
The Galantes also retained two other popular promotions at the restaurant: “Chef’s Nights” from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, when the purchase of a dinner at the regular price entitles customers to a second dinner for $5.95 or a second seafood dinner for half price; and the Monday through Wednesday pizza special offering a second pizza for half price with the purchase of a regular-priced one.
Tony Galante is well aware that he, his wife and the staff have a high standard to live up to at Piccini. It is a longtime favorite of locals and visitors, has outstanding online reviews and was featured on the Food Network and the popular show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
“Customers expect a lot and they should,” Tony said. “One thing I can promise is we are putting 100 percent effort into Piccini, just as we do with all of our businesses.”