Updated Sept. 25 at 9:30 a.m.

In a Sept. 23 Facebook post, officials with Giannina’s Pizza & Catering announced they are selling their family-owned business to Vittorio Valdez, who plans to reopen the restaurant as Vittorio’s Pizza & Pasta soon at 9740 Barker Cypress Road, Cypress.

The Cicciarella family has operated Giannina’s in Cypress for about seven years and plans to continue running the catering side of the business with a mobile wood-fired pizza oven, according to the announcement.

Original story posted Sept. 16 at 3:10 p.m.

Giannina’s Pizza & Catering, a family owned restaurant located at 9740 Barker Cypress Road, brought their authentic Italian cuisine to Cypress in 2016.

“Our mission from the beginning is to serve the community, which we have been serving since 1983,” said Giovanna Cicciarella, daughter of chef Salvatore Cicciarella.

The backstory

Salvatore and his wife Francesca along with their son Arcangelo and daughter Giovanna opened their first Houston-area restaurant, Luigi's Ristorante & Pizzeria, in 1983.

Over the years, they have operated three Luigi’s locations, including the remaining location on Jones Road, which is now run by Salvatore’s apprentice.

Giannina’s Pizza & Catering started with a catering business exclusively offering a mobile pizzeria in its customers backyard in 2014 and is named after Giovanna’s grandmother.

Zooming in

Salvatore, 81, and Francesca, 74, originally from Sicily, offer fresh ingredients and authentic family recipes.

“The secret is in the extra virgin olive oil and our fresh ingredients,” Salvatore said.

The Cicciarella family has fed three generations of families and has watched their customers grow as they said they still have the same customers from their first restaurant.

“It's a pleasure and it's a joy to see the next generation of family because that's what we are, a family ourselves,” Giovanna said.

The family has survived catastrophes that include hurricanes, freezes and COVID-19. Giovanna said Giannina’s Pizza & Catering was the only restaurant open in the Barker Cypress area during Winter Storm Uri. The family was able to feed the community thanks to their fire oven that did not require electricity.

“They are survivors. It’s who they are. They came from Sicily. You know, a fishing village into the American dream,” Giovanna said, referring to her parents.

Although Salvatore was double ventilated due to COVID-19 and now has a pacemaker, he continues to power through serving his community.

“I have proudly served many in my life and will keep serving as long as the Lord keeps me,” Salvatore said.

What's on the menu?

The Cicciarella family serves specialty artisan pizzas made in a stainless steel wood-fired oven.

Pizza types vary from chicken Alfredo to pepperoni. Other menu items include pastas and appetizers as well as soups and salads. The restaurant also offers catering services and allows BYOB.