Slice of history recognized as St. Paul Park's Carbone's named Business of the YearThe restaurant’s staying power and local popularity were highlighted recently when Carbone’s was named Business of the Year for the 2012 Heritage Days festival.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
Bob La Nasa has owned Carbone’s Pizzeria in St. Paul Park since about 1975, and he worked for his father at the restaurant for more than a decade before that.
Most of his career has been spent in the pizza business, and La Nasa doesn’t have plans to make a change.
“I can’t quit working; I’d go nuts,” he joked.
The restaurant’s staying power and local popularity were highlighted recently when Carbone’s was named Business of the Year for the 2012 Heritage Days festival. It came as a surprise to La Nasa.
“I said, “Oh, thank you,’” he said.
There are about 36 Carbone’s locations and most are in Minnesota. The St. Paul Park restaurant is the second-oldest still in operation. Carbone’s employs about 19 to 20 people, mostly part-time workers.
The restaurant appears much the same as when it opened at its current location in 1987, but La Nasa has made some changes in recent years. Just two years ago Carbone’s started delivering pizza. La Nasa had resisted, but son Brian, who manages the St. Paul Park restaurant and recently bought a Woodbury Carbone’s, urged his father to add delivery. It was a wise move, Brian La Nasa said, as some of the restaurant’s regulars still eat at the pizzeria but also get it delivered on other nights.
Earlier this year the Carbone’s dining area was remodeled. The carpeting and lighting was replaced, the walls painted and the table layout changed.
Decades after taking over the restaurant following his father’s death, La Nasa still literally has his hands in the daily operation: he makes the sausage, sauce, dough and other ingredients himself. St. Paul Park is one of four Carbone’s that still make their own ingredients instead of purchasing pre-made through the corporate office.
“This way I’m in control,” he said. “I know the quality’s the same.”
La Nasa likes knowing he’s served multiple generations.
“I’ve got families that were raised on my pizza,” he said.