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Famous Luigi’s Pizza Restaurant Closes at 19th and M St, NW after 70 Years

by Prince Of Petworth December 23, 2013 at 10:30 am 14 Comments

1132 19th Street, NW

End of an era. From the Washington Post:

“The pizza-and-pasta parlor will cease operations after Saturday night’s service, just a month or so after the restaurant celebrated its 70th anniversary at the same address, 1132 19th St. NW near Dupont Circle. A young Italian immigrant from Genoa, Luigi Calvi, opened the place in 1943 as a pizzeria, nothing more.”

Any fans of Famous Luigi’s?

They were located on 19th Street between L and M between the new Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine and G Street Food.

Update from a press release:

“For 70 years… since November 2, 1943, Famous Luigi’s has occupied a prime location on 19th St. NW in downtown Washington, DC. Legend has it that with the opening of his pizzeria, owner Luigi Calvi was the first person to introduce pizza to the nation’s capital. Luigi passed away in 1961 and left the restaurant to his niece Maddelena and her husband Corrado Bruzzo, who emigrated from Italy at that time to come run the business. The Bruzzos moved their family, including grandparents and their young daughter, into the upstairs flat above the restaurant, and turned the pizzeria into a full-service Italian eatery, complete with delicious, authentic family recipes, including homemade pastas and ravioli that the city had not yet seen.

The Bruzzo’s children Deborah and Corrado Jr. literally grew up in Famous Luigi’s. Wishing to pass along a strong work ethic, the Bruzzos taught their children the business from an early age. At five-years-old, Deborah was shown how to roll-out pizza dough using a Coco-Cola bottle instead of a rolling pin, and that began her life in the family business. In 2009, Deborah’s father Corrado Bruzzo passed away, and Famous Luigi’s traditions continued under the management of Deborah and her brother Corrado Jr.

But now, Famous Luigi’s has retired. After 70 years, its last dinner was served on Saturday, December 21st. After more than 40 years in the family business herself, Deborah Bruzzo, feeling that the time was right to pass the baton, has decided to retire as well. She will start a new chapter (literally), by becoming an author; for she is already writing a book about her family, the Famous Luigi’s experience, and the life lessons that it has taught her.

Deborah is particularly at peace with this decision, as she sees her family’s restaurant tradition being continued in a new location with a new generation. Osteria Marzano, which opened this summer in Alexandria, VA, is the dream of her daughter, Elena Bruzzo Pouchelon, who also grew up in the family business. Elena is Osteria Marzano’s Managing Owner in charge of the front of house, and her step-father Carmine Marzano is Executive Chef and Co-Owner, who also happens to be Deborah Bruzzo’s husband.

Deborah wishes to extend her sincere thanks and appreciation to all of Famous Luigi’s wonderful patrons and staff through the decades. Fans of Famous Luigi’s are encouraged to visit Osteria Marzano to experience how its Italian family tradition continues in an upscale dining restaurant.

Osteria Marzano serves classic brick oven pizzas, delicious handmade pastas, hearty main courses and a well-curated wine, beer and cocktail selection, as well as a variety of small “Assaggini” Italian tapas-style sharing plates uniquely available at the bar. Located in the Kingstowne region of Alexandria, VA, Osteria Marzano is a sophisticated, 6,100 sq. ft. venue for lunch, drinks, or dinner.

Osteria Marzano
6361 Walker Lane. Suite 140 (Metro Park VI)
Alexandria, VA 22310″

More photos after the jump.





  • Anonymous

    That building must be worth a ton of money. Though, I wonder if they already sold the air rights to the office building next door? The office windows are built up to the edge of the property line.

  • Anonymous

    I was very saddened to hear this. I worked as a server there in 2012 part-time while interning at a local nonprofit trying to make ends meet until I found full-time job in DC. I thoroughly enjoyed the people I worked with and will miss the food – super delicious!!

  • PCat

    I will miss Luigi’s a lot. I worked at MCI across the street and went there often for lunch and for parties. It’s so sad to see all the old DC places disappear.

  • AMDCer

    Darn! I loved their pizza. Wish I had known earlier so I could have gone one last time.

  • iaom

    Aww, I like their pizza sauce and their bread and tortellini soup.

    Here’s a photo of Luigi’s in the ’50s (note they were already calling it Luigi’s Alley back then): http://ghostsofdc.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/1953-Luigis-photo-via-Facebook.jpg

    And some history of the place (and its namesake Luigi Calvi) can be found at http://ghostsofdc.org/2012/09/19/washington-pizza-history/

  • Anonymous

    Oh! This makes me sad. There were few places like it in DC, especially in that area. I’d been going there for many years.

  • anon

    Home of my first food poisoning. Pasta carbonara in 2003. Ahhh, the memories.

  • Anonymous

    Boo! Sad news!

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that sucks. Good food at a surprisingly good price.

  • Donna Kuiken

    I started going to luigi’s in high school…before the glass dining room was added. Then I took my husband to be there and he was hooked. We planned our wedding while eating pizza. So many memories I can’t count them all. We will miss this restaurant terribly.

  • Derek

    Luigi’s was a go-to spot for family dinners in the 1980s/90s. I was last there probably two or three years ago. Very sad to see it close.

  • Anonymous

    Sadness! They made awesome pink sauce.

  • eak

    I went there once. The waitress was a recently immigrated Russian who did not seem happy to see us. The food was passable, but certainly not comparable to something, say, like Osteria Morini. Still sad to see a 70 year institution close.

  • Luigi lover

    Luigi’s will be sorely missed. For a long time it was one of only a handful of decent Italian restaurants in DC. Its comfortable atmosphere, friendly staff, tasty dishes, and affordable prices made it a go-to restaurant for easy fare with friends in the city. Luigi’s, I’ll miss your pizza and delicious pink sauce! much love


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