HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >


Totonnos Pizza, GRRRRRRRRRRR

  • d

I went to Totonnos this afternoon, after taking the kids to Coney Island. I was impressed with the Pizza, not Difaras, but still pretty good. The kids loved it (probably the sweet sauce). But man, was the service rude. I mean, the women running the show was down right nasty. She was yelling at her assistant, was curt with the customers, and at times aggresive with the cooks. I was scared to ask for water. Is this normal? is this supposed to be some cute old school character? What gives?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. c
    ChowFun (derek)

    Either she was having a very bad day with you, or a very GOOD day with me...when I went she was warm , funny and very personal...but then only two other tables were busy...I agree the pizza was very good, but DiFara's was even better...!

    9 Replies
    1. re: ChowFun (derek)

      Glad to hear it isnt the norm. She wasn't tough on me, since I left her alone. But boy did she go after others....

      1. re: driggs

        i havent been to totonnos in a few years but the pizza guy was/is the woman's brother. he is pretty nice to me and my dad...she is hit or miss. i have to say, you have to stand up for yourself in these places. when i go to difara's i just move past people and get dom's daughter's attention...otherwise, im waiting like a schlub for 30 minutes.

        1. re: sam

          so what you're saying is that you push past people who are waiting before you????? geez. i've been a regular for 20 years and don't do that. i do make sure dom or maggie (in the days when she was there) or such see me but i never order before someone who has been there before me.

          1. re: redgirl

            Leave her alone she has been thru alot in the last ten years or so. Plus running 3 other rest . As for her being nice she does alot more for Brooklyn then the rest.That's the Italin American way accept it or move on. I have never had a problem with her.

            1. re: FAL

              Oh, please. Maybe she is Mother Teresa, I have no way of judging her good works. But I can tell you with authority that being nasty and capricious and treating your customers and staff like trash is not the Italian-American way.

              1. re: Gnosh

                It is a pizza joint. So what if she is a little rude. You still leave saying that is one of the greastest pie in NY.Like i said never a problem with her or Jerry (rip). It is the second pizzera in the US

            2. re: redgirl

              I've always marveled at the line-cutters at Difara's. Figured they couldn't possibly be users of this site.

              Jim (aka "One of the schlubs who waits for 30 minutes")

          2. re: driggs

            When I was there about a year and a half ago (my second and last visit) the woman was so incredibly rude to everyone there, that half the tables left— including a table of uniformed cops. They sat at a table that hadn't been wiped down, sat there for 10 minutes or so, then got yelled at by the woman for not waiting until the table was clean. They just got up and marched out. (What restaurant person in her right mind is rude to cops???) When we ordered she snarled at us that it would take at least an hour to get the pizza (the place was not crowded). So we left too. I had liked the pizza the first time I tried it, but my main reason for returning had been location and old-world charm. Ha!

            1. re: driggs

              It's funny how things never seem to change. Mood-wise they have always been hit or miss. I personally never had problem there.

          3. Perhaps she is the reincarnation of the ever ornery original owner [Jerry Pero]? Back in the 70s when I was an obnoxious teenager, he threw my friends and me out of the place more times than I care to count!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Erica

              THere are pictures, many of them, of her on wall during various times of her life. She certainly seems to have been there a long time. In the pictures shes smiling; Perhaps they used Photoshop....

              1. re: Driggs

                LOL!!!! If she smiled her face would crack and fall to the floor... LOL LOL!!!! Seriously, she is either Jerry's daughter or his niece. I believe SHE now is the sole owner!!!!!!

            2. In my experience, yes, that is normal. She is nice-ish to customers but nasty to staff. They seem used to it and don't seem to mind terribly. I think it's just her style.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sir Gawain

                Well, you know what they say: a person who is nice to you, but not nice to the waiter, is not a nice person.

                1. re: Cara1

                  Sure, but I go for the pizza.

              2. We've been trying to get into Totonno's lately, but sadly the grinch factor has been a problem both times.

                First visit - we walk in hoping for a take-away pie, stand by the counter, and are ignored. She greets others who walk in after us instead. I have to aggressively intercept her just to get acknowledged, and of course we end up leaving without a pizza.

                Second visit we sit down and get served fine, but, like you observed, she is busy bitching out her staff, non-stop.

                Unfortunately, based on these two trips the wife has declared T's out of bounds.

                1. I'm glad to hear that things have NOT changed!!!! LOL LOL!!!!! She has been that way......ALWAYS!!! Way before the "Soup Nazi" When I have gone, rather than let it get to me, I get into the frame of mind of what misery she must have gone (or is going) through in her personal life to be so miserable towards others. Doing this helps me to shrug it off.

                  1. I was only there once and it was like that. If you like that pizza, try Anthony's on 7th Ave and and 14th ST or go to the Totonos in the City on the Upper East Side

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Jonathan

                      I went to the UES Totonno's once, and it was really nothing special, bordering on bad. I've never been to the Brookln one, but I can't imagine that they're anything like each other, considering the Brooklyn branch's reputation.

                    2. I have been going to Totonno's for years, since seeing an article about it in the Daily News. The woman with the reddish hair is the original Totonno's daughter and the pizza guy with the pony tail is her husband. The pizza in Brooklyn is great but do not bother even trying the Manhatten version. Did someone just buy the name for the Manhatten restaurant because it is NOTHING like the pizza in Brooklyn!!

                      1. I've been to Totonno's twice, both about a decade ago. The first time I showed up somewhat drunk, also cut and bleeding, having walked from Park Slope. I got a warm welcome and great pizza. The second time I took a subway, sober. Warm welcome, and then a very long wait. I asked if anything was wrong and was told they had made my pizza, it wasn't up to their standards so they threw it away and made another. In those days they made a limited amount of dough each day, so they were throwing away money when they trashed the imperfect pizza. After that, I wrote a comment in my Zagat survey, which Zagat printed anonymously and which they took as their slogan: Only God makes better pizza.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Brian S

                          Totonno's: «Only God makes better pizza» You really want to swell Dom's head! <G>

                        2. Only God makes better pizza. That is great. I am a giant fan of Totonno's. Been going there is i was a child. If you guy's think Cookie is ruff you should have seen Jerry (RIP) in his heydays. I seen him throw someone out just because there pizza wasn't cooked to there liking. Then he gave the pizza to another table for free. If you are a native of Brooklyn you understand this place and accept it. Bottom line is you keep coming back for the pizza. In fact I am going today.

                          1. The few times I have been there, I have received wonderful, down-home treatment, perhaps because I have always managed - not by design - to go there during non-busy, non-hectic hours. Each time I've been there, she has given me a piece of fresh mozzarrella to taste, prior to making the pie. Kind of like the guys behind the counter at Katz's, when they cut off a slab of pastrami for you to taste.

                            The last time I went there, a few years back, I brought my mother-in-law and my wife's aunt, who were both visiting from Tokyo. I joked to the woman that they had come all the way from Japan to try this pizza. She replied that they had recently received an offer to open up a Totonno's branch in Japan.

                            1. The pizza is good, but not as good as Grimaldi's or Lombardi's. Cookie was rude even tho the place was empty at 5 PM Friday 2/23/07. But this is the reason I will not return to Totonnos is this: The pizza maker came out to help find a salt shaker top that had fallen on the floor and disappeared. He got down on his hands and knees to look. Then he got right back up and started making the next pizza without washing his hands. I can put up with rudeness , bad location and uncomfortable seats, but not with a man's hands flat down on the floor and then handling my dough & cheese.

                              1. man, after reading this entire thread it has become apparent that i really need to get out there to CIsland. i thought difara's is OK, cant wait to try Lucalli's, and think Vincenzo's on 2nd ave in NYC rock.

                                1. i was going to order a pie from difara yesterday but they didnt pick up the phone for most of the afternoon. i thought of going to totonnos but figured id be disappointed as its not as good as difaras.

                                  it is better than nearly every other place mentioned above though...especially better than grimaldis.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: sam1

                                    I think you should look at it, not so much from the point of view of which may be better according to your taste, but from the fact that the Totonno's experience is vastly different from the DiFara's experience. Of course, by that, I mean first and foremost the pizza itself, the way it is prepared, cooked, and, obviously, the taste. Two completely different approaches. If you're a pizza enthusiast, I strongly encourage you to make the trip to Totonno's. I know very few people who were actually disappointed that they tried it.

                                  2. Is it BYOB? or will this cause more hysterics

                                    1. Totonno's is NOT BYOB. They have cheap (quality, I never asked about price) and beer.

                                      1. On my visit to Tottonos the lady was so rude to the customers it was funny, it reminded me of the soup nazi on Sienfeld.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: gp140

                                          You are absolutely right on target. The experience is very much like the soup nazi. I've been going to Totonnos for 25 or 30 years, although not very recently. When the old man was alive there was ALWAYS a substantial wait. When people complained he would sometimes threaten to stop making pizzas, or to triple the price. When the workers, mostly relatives, were curt, I always assumed that they were just very unhappy working for such a surly guy. It never really bothered me. For some reason the old man seemed to take a liking to me, probably because I treated him with total deference. He would sometimes make my pizza ahead of others. Nobody dared say a word.

                                        2. "I was scared to ask for water." Eat at Pizza hut in the future.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Geo8rge

                                            Its always odd to see an old post get rehashed. As for your suggestion, I like totonnos, and in fact I like characters like the rude women; its part of what I like about Brooklyn. My question was to flesh out the character. Do you have any other smarmy suggestions?