Santo’s firing up ovens again

Published 3:44pm 1 October 2020

Words by Nick Crockford

Santo Rizzo is back serving pizzas and pasta in Albany Creek after reopening Santos Pizzeria in the same restaurant where it stood for 17 years.

Some changes have been made since Santo, now 71, sold the business six years ago.

The kitchen has been opened up and he has a staff of three including chef Monica Kroll, who worked there six years ago and Tiffany Jackson.

“It’s just pizza and pasta takeaways at the moment, or small functions,” says Santo, who turned on the ovens again last Wednesday (September 23).

Restaurant plan

“We used to have an a la carte menu, but for now it’s mostly takeaways because of COVID and staff numbers. We hope to reopen the restaurant again soon.

“It has been great (reopening). We had some of our former customers coming back in on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“I’m delighted to be back. Six years ago, I had a feeling I would be. My daughter said come and live here (on the southside), but I never left Albany Creek.

“I have lived here since 1975 and over the years I have got to know many, many people. It’s great to see customers coming back.”

In the beginning

Santo first opened the restaurant in Albany Market Place on August 31, 1991, before moving to the current Albany Creek Rd site in 1997.

“When I started Albany Creek was a little suburb,” he says, “but now …. it’s big with Eatons Hill and Bridgeman Downs just the same.”

All three are a far cry from the small town in Sicily where Santo grew up before emigrating to Australia at the age of 16.

He first lived in Melbourne and entered the food industry a year later - and that has been Santo’s working career which has now entered its 54th year.

In the ring

However, while in Victoria a sporting career was born when Santo took up boxing.

“At that time I really didn’t know what it was all about,” says Santo, “I didn’t know much about the ring or a punchbag.”

But he went on to have elimination fights for the Australian and Victorian Super Lightweight titles and in three years (1967-1970) had 18 bouts at venues such as the Festival Hall, Channel 9 Studios and Olympic Velodrome in Melbourne.

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