Sunnyside Pizza starts slinging slices

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Commuters riding back from Manhattan and Sunnysiders hungry for a quick evening snack now have a chance to get a piping hot slice of pizza right on Queens Boulevard.

Sunnyside Pizza opened Oct. 19. The storefront shop at 40-01 Queens Blvd. has a few tall chairs along a counter facing the window. It’s an unpretentious addition to the neighborhood, but its owners have a pizza-making pedigree.

Anthony Rao, 43, grew up in a pizza-making family that owned three different restaurants in Gravesend and Marine Park, Brooklyn.

“I was 12 years old when I started with my summers,” he said. “Every day with my father, standing on a milk crate to reach the pie table. Customers were actually asking me for it, they didn’t want the hired pizza guy to make it.”

He and his cousin, Mike Rao, decided to branch out with their own pizzeria in June. They offer freshly baked pies starting at $13 for a plain, 18-inch pizza and $2.25 for a slice.

“We went to Kew Gardens, Red Hook, Brooklyn Heights, Williamsbu­rg,” he said. “We were looking for the right spot. And all the other spots there were other pizzerias around.”

They picked Sunnyside because of its proximity to the 7 train and also the municipal parking lots that sit under the elevated tracks.

I hope that people will call me up and say, ‘Anthony, I’ll be there in 20 minutes,’” he said. “They can go, get in their car, park right in front of the store and we’ll bring it right out them.”

The cousins did all their own work getting the storefront ready to open, utilizing Mike Rao’s skills as a contractor.

“The style is Tuscany,” Anthony Rao said, though he admitted decor was not the foremost concern as they neared completion. “My wife came in and she said, ‘What’s going to be our motif?’ Mike goes, ‘What the hell is a motif?’”

If all goes well, Anthony Rao said they hope to expand their menu to include spaghetti and sandwiches.

“We’re waiting,” he said. “We want to do it right. I’m building a kitchen for hot heros and stuff like that.”

In the meantime, the cousins and Anthony Rao’s next-door neighbor are busy cranking out the pies and getting to know the people of Sunnyside.

“We didn’t expect the people to be so warm and friendly and tightly knit,” Anthony Rao said. “It wasn’t what we expected at all. We’re starting to get to know these people and it’s wonderful. We’re there working long hours, but it’s the people there that make it pleasurable.”

To order a pie from Sunnyside Pizzeria, call 718-433-4040.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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