Grandma Vita Maniscalco Of Vic’s Pizzeria Passes On But Leaves Legacy For Community

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Grandma Vita Maniscalco

Grandma Vita Maniscalco (Courtesy of Victoria Maniscalco)

Bensonhurst mourns the loss of Grandma (Vita) Maniscalco of Vic’s Pizzeria (288 Kings Highway), a neighborhood staple.

Vita and her husband Vic emigrated to New York City from Sciacca, Sicily with their two daughters in 1959, and moved into an apartment building on Elizabeth Street, in Manhattan’s Little Italy. The young couple came to the U.S. “in hope of a better life for their children. They left everything they knew,” granddaughter Victoria Maniscalco told us.

Vita passed away on September 2nd. Her husband Vic died last year.

Teaching themselves English, Vita initially worked as a seamstress in a factory, while Vic found jobs in the restaurant industry.

“Soon they wanted to have a place to call their own,” granddaughter Victoria said.

After carefully saving, they found a storefront for sale in Brooklyn and opened Vic’s Pizzeria in 1962. That same year, their son Pasquale (Pat), who manages the family business to this day, was born.

Vita and Vic Maniscalco

Vic and Vita Maniscalco in 1960. (Courtesy of Victoria Maniscalco)

Transporting their children back and forth from Manhattan to Brooklyn (and sometimes leaving the kids with nuns as babysitters), Vita and Vic strove to ensure a bright future for their family.

Vic’s is located on West 7th Street and Kings Highway — a high-traffic area. “When the store opened it was originally an Italian, Greek, and Jewish community,” Victoria told us.

Together, Vita and Vic worked hard to immerse themselves in American culture and foster a sense of community.

“Now many cultures [mostly Russian and Chinese] enjoy Vic’s Pizzeria,” Victoria said. “[And] original customers would return to have a homemade style meal from Grandma Vita.”

Courtesy of Victoria Maniscalco

Courtesy of Victoria Maniscalco

The family loved the pizzeria and treated it like an extension of their homes — so much so that even Sunday dinners would occasionally happen there. Neighbors would frequent the pizzeria like it was a second home.

“It was where she raised her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and shared her passion,” granddaughter Victoria said. “Even at 79, she was working at the restaurant with the same determination and enthusiasm as she always had.”

Vic and Vita Maniscalco

Wedding of Vic and Vita Maniscalco. (Courtesy of Victoria Maniscalco)

Tradition was the key for the Maniscalcos — both Pasquale and his sister Dina grew up working in the business. Pasquale took over the pizzeria when he was 30, giving him the responsibility to handle the business and administrative side of things. He was the pizza man, while Vita and Vic were a team in the kitchen.

“My grandfather butchered the meat, prepared eggplant and chicken, and made the sauce and meatballs, while my Grandma Vita created wonderful dishes using the ingredients my grandfather prepared,” Victoria said.

Dina also continues to work in the family business, answering phones, packing orders, and helping with customer service.

Vita and Vic Maniscalco

Vita and Vic Maniscalco (Courtesy of Victoria Maniscalco)

Although both Vita and Vic have passed on, their legacy of hard work and a warm welcome lives on through their family, community, and food. The name Vita means “life,” and this is a gift she gave the world — the gift of herself.

“[Last Thursday], my father reopened the store for the first day without my grandmother,” Victoria said. “With the help of my aunt, [he] will try to keep the “Vita” in Vic’s and run the pizzeria as she would want it — through serving food as if it were for family.”

The community mourns the loss, but still enjoys the food at Vic’s.

  • Sean F

    The food at Vic’s has been terrific. The only pizza I’ve ever enjoyed cold. May Grandma Vita and Vic rest in peace.

    One thing puzzles me: The story reads as though the family has run Vic’s ever since it opened, but that’s not correct. About 10 years ago (maybe 12), a friend of mine and his brother bought Vic’s, and ran it for two or three years. My son often went there to help out (he particularly loved unfolding the pizza boxes). I know they sold it again, but didn’t realize it had gone back into Vic’s family.

    • unknow24390

      I have been a family friend of this Vic’s pizza family for over 36 years. I sat with this family at dinners party’s and holidays. I am siting here trying to understand how in all of what was written here is not the name of the one person who is responsible for bringing Vic’s back after 6 years of disgrace. I must tell the truth since the person who wrote it hasn’t. I have read that the son was left to take the place and keep the name going which as I recall is the same son who was the one who ruined the name by selling it to two brothers while vita and Vic were still alive. Which in return ran it to the ground and walked away. Instead of going back there to not see something vita and Vic worked so hard for be gone he then sold it to a family friend of there’s who also killed the name even more. Then really hurting the Vic’s name and place even more sold it to a 3rd person who also failed who sold it to Frank’s pizza from 13 avenue who now change the name of Vic’s to Frank’s who could not give the pizza away or pay the bills. Now we get to my friend the grandson at no point in the 6 years of this place being killed did anyone worry about the Vic’s name witch by this time after losing and watching what MR.VIC put all his life into his pizzeria be dismantled because of his son. Now back to how Vic’s is there today. The grandson who worked in construction ask his farther in-law to help give back what his grandparents have worked so hard for all their lives. with the help of is farther in-law they redid what you see today. Vic’s pizza place was redone and fresh but it was sad to say a week before the opening Vic passed. My friend was able to bring life back to his grandmother and mother who also works there and his Uncle who lost his job and was back as a pizza man. If someone is going to write about Vic’s at least mention the person who is responsible for it bringing back to what it used to be before the son Pat sold it to strangers and it let be run to the ground. Its also sad that not once in this article were their other grandchildren or better yet children mentioned. I hope Vic and Vita rest in piece but if a story is going to be told let it be the truth.

      P.S – There was nothing better than Vita’s meatball or chicken parm.

      • sara

        I dont think anyone needed to know the family history of who brought it down, sold or ruined it.

  • JJ from bay parkway

    The food was the best in Brooklyn, but it was so much more. From the time you entered you were treated to great food and smiling workers, you actually felt like part of the family. They joked with you and talked to you and were generally interested in how your day or week was. Vic , vita and thier son pat were one of a kind, I pray they keep Vic’s open. God bless mama vita may she rest in peace. I will miss her and still miss her husband so very much.