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Catering hall where ‘Pizza Dance’ was born files for bankruptcy

La Bella Vita on Rockaway Boulevard is home of the so-called Pizza Dance. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Court documents show La Bella Vita filed for bankruptcy in March, months before the Ozone Park catering hall closed in mid-December.

Tony Modica, owner of the Rockaway Boulevard restaurant, at 106-00 Rockaway Blvd., could not be reached for comment.

During its nearly 30 years of business, La Bella Vita became known for its buffets and gregarious owner.

Modica grew famous in 1999 when his so-called Pizza Dance caught the attention of newspaper and television reporters.

He said he came up with the idea to mime a chef making a pizza while watching his employees work.

Then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was featured in a two-page spread in the New York Post performing the dance, which required moves to simulate banging the pizza dough and spinning it in the air, with enthusiasm.

Once Modica performed the dance at the Capitol, Congress adopted National Taste of Pizza Month, declaring “our culture, like the toppings on the pizza, is very different yet the toppings taste great on one foundation of bread.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

Posted 12:00 am, January 21, 2014
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