Haddon Avenue, one of South Jersey’s busier restaurant rows, will get two pizzerias in 2022 from the scions of longtime pizza-making families.

Sal Cusumano, 38, the third-generation pizzaiolo (on both sides) behind such shops as My Angelo’s in Berlin and Voorhees, is planning his own pizzeria, with an artisan approach, at 872 Haddon Ave. in Collingswood. He’s calling it Pizzeria Cusumano.

Three minutes away down the street, Vince Tacconelli Jr., 29, and his father are planning a second South Jersey location of their Maple Shade pizzeria, Tacconelli’s, at 164 N. Haddon Ave. in the Westmont section of Haddon Township.

They’ll join a roster of such established establishments as Cafe Antonio II, Stella, Bricco Coal-Fired, Treno, and Finizio’s Italian Eatery, as well as a slew of other options in nearby Haddonfield.

Pizzeria Cusumano

Much of Sal Cusumano’s life has been spent slinging pizzas with his father, grandfather, and uncles on both sides. “There was something inside me that I wanted to do something with pizza, but something that no one else is doing,” he said, as he fed yet another round pie into his conveyor-style oven in Berlin, Camden County.

Since 2017, he has been working with consultant Gregorio Fierro on the pizza at his shops — the goal was a lighter, less-filling dough — but it’s not enough. Cusumano thinks he’s taken it as far as he can go in Berlin, where his customers are accustomed to thin-crust, New York-style pizza. He fears a backlash if he deviates too far.

He and his father are headed to Collingswood, where they bought a building for Pizzeria Cusumano. The naming was a simple decision. “It’s a homage to my grandfather Salvatore Calogero Cusumano,” he explained. “Just a man in his 20s when he got on a ship, left everything he knew including his family, and came to America looking for a better opportunity to provide.” He died in 2017, never seeing the family name on one of his shops. “I’m honored, with chills up my spine, to fulfill his last wish and show the world he made good on his decision to come to America,” his grandson said.

The prospect of competition matters little to Cusumano. He believes that no one else is doing the Detroit/Roman square he says he will refine before opening. More importantly, he said he hopes that the public will seek him out for it.

Tacconelli’s

Working side by side in Maple Shade, Vince Tacconelli Sr. and his son Vince Jr. have built a tidy business with a menu that goes beyond pizza to include pastas, salads, gelato, and espresso.

Their new location in Westmont will be a transformation of the former David Wilson Men’s Shop & Salon. They plan to install three ovens — two for pizzas and one for a revolving menu of oven-baked appetizers, such as meatballs, stuffed peppers, and clams casino.

Vince Jr., who is technically Vince 3rd, has never not wanted to be in the pizza business, though a high school job at Osteria gave him a taste of the culinary life and steered him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., to study.

“I think my parents pretty much bred me for this,” he said. “They never forced it upon me, but the door was always open. I’ve always loved food.” He said his parents also encouraged him to cook more than pizzas. “I feel like I have the best job in the world,” he said. “I wake up and I get to cook what I want to. If I’m not feeling something on the menu, I take it off.”

Tacconelli said he has no plan whatsoever to change the dough or to add a new style. “It’s not broke,” he said, describing the crust as sturdy and thin, sort of an Italian-American hybrid. “It’s treated us well for 76 years.”

Their restaurant and its pizza trace their lineage to Giovanni Tacconelli, who emigrated to the United States from Sicily just after World War I and set up a bread bakery with a 20-foot-by-20-foot brick oven on Somerset Street in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. His sons joined him as they came of age, but he stopped baking bread when they were drafted into the military to serve in World War II.

After the war, Tacconelli started making what was popularly known in the Italian American enclave as tomato pie. He later handed the business to son Anthony, who in turn left the business to his son Vince and his wife, Barbara.

When Vince and Barbara retired in 1998, the fourth generation took over.

Their son Vince and his wife, Doris, ran the pizzeria for four years before they left to open a location in Moorestown. In 2014, Vince moved it to Maple Shade and brought in his son.

Meanwhile, John Tacconelli (Vince and Barbara’s oldest son and Vince’s brother) has run the Port Richmond location with his family. (This is the shop famous for encouraging customers to order their dough in advance. Maple Shade has no such policy.)

The two businesses, now in their fifth generation, operate separately. (Their affiliation had been litigated in a now-settled federal court case involving the trademark of the “Tacconelli’s Pizzeria” name.)

The brick-oven Tacconelli’s touch is also apparent on the pizza menu at Mercer Cafe’s location at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia, owned by John and Vince’s sister Dina Woltjen and her family. Woltjen’s daughter Liza said this location is preparing to reopen after a pandemic shutdown. Mercer’s original location in Port Richmond — which happens to be a mile up Almond Street from the original Tacconelli’s — is a bruncherie that does not serve pizza.