Giovanni’s Pizzeria reopens after owner’s murder

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A southeast Albuquerque restaurant reopened for the first time Saturday since the beloved owner was shot and killed in a robbery.

Giovanni’s Pizzeria has been closed for six weeks after the tragic murder of the shop’s owner and patriarch Rosario Zito.

“Going and losing Ros and having the place shut down, its just very abnormal for us all,” said Harold Sammon, store manager.  

Back in August, Zito was shot to death protecting his employees and the shop closed to mourn the shocking loss. 

But now it’s turned on its neon sign to welcome patrons back.

“That’s what Rosario would have wanted, is us open, making pizzas and keeping his legacy going,” said Sammon.  

Sammon says the community support has been so overwhelming and much appreciated. 

“I don’t think we would’ve made it though these if we didn’t have so much support from the community,” he said. 

Nora Velez says she’s been coming to Giovanni’s for a taste of her New York home for over 30 years. 

“I had just moved into an apartment, the Electric Company came in to turn on my electricity and the man who came is also from New York and I told him I would miss the pizza, and he said there’s a place called Giovanni’s and this was my first restaurant in Albuquerque,” said Velez. 

And to honor the pioneer behind the pizza, the shop has set up a special corner dedicated to Zito. 

“We decided to do a kind of like a little memorial hero board, so we have a bunch of notes from our customers. We’ve had a lot of support from our customers people leaving notes at the doors,” said Victoria Hawthorne, Zito’s niece.  

Hawthorne says they’re also working on a special pizza in memory of Zito that should be available soon.

The shop is going to have some new hours. Dine-in from 11 to 4 p.m., and take out until 8 p.m. It will also be closed on Mondays.