Restaurant of the Week: Petrilli’s Pizza

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Petrilli’s Pizza, 110 S. Mountain Ave. (at 9th), Upland

One letter can make a lot of difference. Petrilli’s isn’t Petrillo’s, which is a San Gabriel Valley institution, with locations in San Gabriel and Glendora. But it used to be. The Upland storefront opened as a Petrillo’s circa 2004 but changed a letter the following year. (A close look at the sign hints that the “o” may have been cut in half.) Someone who knows more about Petrillo’s could probably explain, and if so, please account for Mama Petrillo’s in La Verne, Rosemead and Temple City, whose connection to the main operation is nebulous.

Located at the north end of the Dollar Tree and Fresh & Easy center, Petrilli’s is takeout only, except for a lone table. That, a soda case and a TV are about the only adornment. A friend who produces the New Diner blog, and one of his friends, met up with me there recently for dinner and snagged the table.

We ended up getting two pizzas: a medium specialty ($23.75) and a small three-topping veggie with mushrooms, onions and jalapenos ($14), because a small pizza was half-off that night with purchase of a medium or large. The menu has a few sandwiches and salads, and lasagna, but it’s mostly pizza.

The specialty had sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, salami, onions and green peppers and was enormous. So were the toppings. As my friend said, “Those are some of the biggest pieces of sausage I’ve ever seen,” and I agreed. The medium was cut in squares, not triangles, and encompassed 16 pieces. Two of us ate less than half.

We liked our pizzas, but we weren’t totally sold. The crust was crunchy and a little boring; my friend left all the edges on his plate, piled like chicken bones. It was a heavy pizza, probably double the usual amount of cheese, loaded with toppings, a little hard to pick up and eat, the opposite of the type of pizza I usually get. It was extreme, even a little freakish, like the giant horse at the county fair.

I took home seven pieces and got four more meals out of them. I’ve never had anything quite like Petrilli’s — well, except for my single Petrillo’s experience — and it’s hard to imagine returning. But it’s some people’s favorite pizza, and I won’t fault them for it.

* The New Diner’s post can be read here.

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  • Jane Vath O’Connell

    I’m still waiting for real NY style pizza here…and ‘by the slice’!

    • davidallen909

      Not a fan of San Biagio’s (by the slice)?

  • Joanne Dallas

    Well, David, you sound cranky. This pizza seems to have begun haunting you.

    • davidallen909

      It haunted me for the week I was eating it, but I exorcised it from my fridge, piece by piece.

      • Joanne Dallas

        You and Bobby Jindal share the skill of exorcism. Use it wisely.

  • http://www.dailybulletin.com Frank Pine

    That pizza looks pretty good to me.

    • davidallen909

      Bring one into the newsroom sometime, boss.

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    I am sure the confusion of names is caused by copycats trying to ride on the coattails of the original Petrillo’s in SGV. When I was living in Pasadena in the mid-70s, it was the place to go for pizza if one was willing and able to drive, and actually thought garlic is not an extra ingredient, but a staple one like bread, cheese, and tomato.

    If the garlic does not hit you when you walk by, it is not a real Italian-American restaurant, but an Italian themed American restaurant.

    • davidallen909

      I like your definition there at the end.

  • Bob Terry

    23.75 for a fully loaded medium pizza. was it laced with saffron, prime rib or edible flakes of gold? But you are so right about San Biagio’s( 2 locations, Jane) and my favorite Z Pizza( 2locations, but different franchisees). But go big…or go home, right? BTW, Son’s of Italy pasta/meatball dinner is Sunday Oct. 26 at Antonino’s, $10.00 as always. Ciao, Baby!

    • davidallen909

      “…edible flakes of gold” — ha! I know, it sounds expensive, but remember that I got multiple meals out of this, and I didn’t even take the whole thing. By the pound, $23.75 may be a bargain.

  • Eric S.

    Hi David: My understanding of the Petrillo’s Pizza/ Mama Petrillo’s/ Petrolli’s triangle is this: John Petrillo owns both Mama Petrillo’s in Temple City and La Verne. The Temple City one was opened by John’s father in the 1960’s after John’s Uncle (his dad’s brother) opened the Petrillo’s Pizza in San Gabriel. I think this may have caused a rift in the family. The Petrillo’s Pizza was later expanded to Glendora and Upland, with the Upland location being sold off later (thus the modified “o”, creating Petrilli’s).

    • davidallen909

      That was helpful, thanks. Figured there was some fissure in the family business (hey, it happens) and it’s nice to have a clearer picture of the relationship. That Petrillo’s sold Upland to an independent operator who had to tweak the name was my assumption.