Local pizza legend Fernando Riccioni, owner of Wedgewood Pizza, dies at 91
Long-time owner of Austintown's Fernando's Wedgewood Pizza - Fernando Riccioni - died Monday at age 91, his daughter Filomena Riccioni told 21 News.
The well-known pizza maker had a long history here in the Valley, when Wedgewood Pizza was started in 1967 by two friends from Italy, Pasquale "Patsy" Acconcia and Gerry Bianco, but just three months after they opened their doors, Bianco passed away and Patsy doubted he could keep the business going.
That was when Fernando went from being a painter to full-time pizza maker, choosing dough as his new canvas and the final product is still a masterpiece.
“I said I help you keep going, you think you can do it? I can do anything,” Riccioni recalled to 21 News in 2017. “I never stop going up, more, more, more, more,” Riccioni said.
In 2019, the Austintown pizza shop was recognized in a Food Network article about 31 noteworthy regional pizza styles.
Fernando worked at the pizza shop until the pandemic forced him to stay home. In late 2020, Fernando returned to his Austintown pizza shop and celebrated his 90th birthday.
A true family-run restaurant, Riccioni is survived by his daughters, Adelina and Filomena, son-in-law, Mike, grandson Michael, granddaughters Jenna and Gabriella, and a nephew, Rick, who all work at the pizza shop.
His daughter Filomena Riccioni told 21 News "It is with a broken heart that the family of Fernando Riccioni,. owner operator of Wedgewood Pizza Austintown, announces his passing. He came to this country in 1960 and opened Wedgewood Pizza in 1967. Our father's love of the pizza shop and the Austintown community was so much so that it became his second home. We will be forever blessed and humbled by the overwhelming support and love that my father and our family has been shown throughout our 55-plus years in business."
Fernando's funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.