Two things that Vincenzo’s Pizza owner Steve Katz loves are making pizza and making metaphors about making pizza.
“You could say we’re the pizza equivalent of the Lakers or the Golden State Warriors.”
If comparing Vincenzo’s Pizza in Newhall to two of America’s most storied professional basketball franchises seems a stretch, Katz has another comparison that at least is food-related.
“I like to think we’re the Pink’s of Santa Clarita,” said Katz, drawing a comparison to the iconic Los Angeles restaurant Pink’s Hot Dogs. “The community is really locked into Vincenzo’s.”
Evidence supports that claim, as Vincenzo’s Newhall has been named “Best Pizza” in the Santa Clarita Valley more than ten times.
“Someone has to be number one out here,” said Katz, who takes great pride in the authentic Neapolitan method with which all of Vincenzo’s pizzas are produced. This method, which harks back to Vincent’s Park Pizza, a small Pittsburgh-based pizzeria which inspired Vincenzo’s Newhall, features a hand-tossed “Napoli” style crust, brought by the Krauss family from Naples, Italy.
A Napoli style crust is thin in the middle and puffy around the edge. Granulated garlic is sprinkled around the edge of the puffy crust before baking to a golden brown.
Bob Krauss and his family moved to Newhall in 1978, and brought Vincent’s recipe. A year later, having changed his name to Vincenzo, he opened the restaurant at 24504 ½ Lyons Ave.
He and partner John Hudock expanded to other locations, which were sold to their operators in 1985. Katz bought the restaurant in 2013.
Through it all, the recipe remains the same. “We’ll serve you the exact same pizza we did in 1979. It’s like McDonalds or In ’N Out; you don’t change a winner.”
Community engagement and live music extend Vincenzo’s connections to the Santa Clarita Valley beyond award-winning pizza.
The pizzeria sponsors youth and high school sports teams each season, often handing out pizza vouchers, hosting team events, or buying advertising space.
Due to its Newhall location, Vincenzo’s has a particularly close relationship with Hart High School. The walls around the cash register are adorned with Hart football, basketball, and baseball posters.
With the opening of Valencia and West Ranch high schools nearly as close to the restaurant as Hart, Katz has looked for opportunities to sponsor even more local athletic programs.
And then there’s the music, and lots of it. The restaurant features live music nearly every day of the week.
According to Katz (here comes a simile to go with his metaphors), Vincenzo’s “is like a “small Whisky A Go Go, but still a family restaurant.” Like the Sunset Boulevard landmark, Vincenzo’s prides itself on providing a venue where local artists can share their music with its customers.
Frequent performers include The Grateful Dudes, a bluegrass group, Dark Desert Highway, an award-winning Eagles cover band, jazz musicians from College of the Canyons and CalArts, and Zeppelin, a house favorite.
Local musicians often congregate at Vincenzo’s on Sunday mornings, where they are free to play and where visitors are encouraged to “walk among the jammers.”
Vincenzo’s, which features a state of the art audio-video system and spacious stage, often acts as a Santa Clarita hub for the Los Angeles stand-up comedy scene. It is not unusual to encounter performers from the Magic Castle or from local comedy clubs on stage at the restaurant.
Katz is committed to keeping Vincenzo’s lineup dynamic and to providing high quality entertainment for his restaurant’s guests.
He’s convinced that great food, community outreach, and live entertainment are what keep his customers, or “Vincenzians” as he’s dubbed them, coming back. “We want to stay personal and we want the money spent here to stay within the city.”