A Tale of Two Pizzas (2003)


(director/writer: Vincent Sassone; cinematographer: Peter Nelson; editor: Robert Pennington; music: Peter Fish; cast: Vincent Pastore (Vito Rossi), Frank Vincent (Frank Bianco), Robin Paul (Angela Rossi), Conor Dubin (Tony Bianco), Patti D’Arbanville (Margie Bianco), Frankie J. Galasso (Tommy), Nicholas J. Giangiulio (Mooch), Melissa Marsala (Denise), Angela Pietropinto (Beverly Rossi), Louis Guss (Emilio), Kelly Karbacz (Lisa); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Patricia Zagarella/Van Papadopoulo; Newmark/Echelon Entertainment Group LLC; 2003)

“For what the film had to work with–a thin script–it flawlessly achieved what it set it out to do.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Vincent Sassone is making his debut feature film as the director-writer of this pleasant lightweight romantic/comedy that borrows its story from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and a variety of other ethnic sitcom plot lines. Though the low-budget feel-good film is predictable and there are many clichés sprinkled throughout, the characters are all warm, likable and do a great job carrying off the comedy. For what the film had to work with–a thin script–it flawlessly achieved what it set it out to do. It also accomplished its aims without being pretentious and by sticking to the framework of the simple narrative, all the while keeping everything genuine.

The film was shot in only a month during the summer of 2002 on location in Yonkers, and after being shown in numerous festivals has landed a distributor (Newmark/Echelon Entertainment Group) and will open first in Chicago and then in six other select cities over the summer. Of interest to mostly adolescent girls, heartthrob pop singer Frankie J. Galasso has a small part in the film as a pizza worker. Frankie has been a member the last four years of the pop boy band Dream Street, an opening act for Brittany Spears. Two of his songs are featured in the film. Also worth noting is newcomer film actress Robin Paul, a recent Williams College graduate, who has made appearances on The Guiding Light soap-opera and has been a regular on the TV series Ed. Robin is attractive, sweet, intelligent and can act–as she spices things up as the dream girl of the pizza world. The film’s two veteran actors Vincent Pastore and Frank Vincent carry the film with their crisp comic performances, with Pastore receiving recognition for his recent stint in the TV hit The Sopranos. It was also good to see veteran actress Patti D’Arbanville playing the sympathetic part of the wife filing for a divorce from her philandering husband. Patti got her start many years ago with Andy Warhol when she was a mere 17-year-old and has the distinction of having a classic song, Lady D’Arbanville, written for her by former boyfriend Cat Stevens.

The patriarchs of the Bianco and the Rossi Italian families of Yonkers have been feuding for years – starting in childhood over a bicycle and with the feud intensely advancing in adulthood over pizza. The two feuding pizza parlor owners, Frank Bianco (Frank Vincent) and Vito Rossi (Vincent Pastore), involve their star-crossed kids, Tony Bianco (Conor Dubin) and Angela Rossi (Robin Paul), in their dispute. The two young pizza workers have mixed feelings about the feud because they gradually find themselves falling in love but find it hard to cross their fathers. The young lovers learn that all’s fair in love and pizza war (where stealing recipes and slashing prices to drive the rival out of business becomes part of each patriarch’s game plan). The war of the pizzas is finally settled in a crucial taste contest arranged by old time pizza owner Emilio–now retired. Emilio gave Rossi the recipe for his tangy sauce and Bianco the recipe for the crispy thin crust, and wishes only that the two would learn to overcome their differences. The energetic film pleases throughout by dishing out a zesty comedy and by having the pizza war end in a sensible way that should satisfy the appetites of most viewers.