Dino’s Pizza—In Business Nearly 50 Years and Still Delivers 

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

It’s homey. It’s comfortable. And you won’t find gluten free pasta on the menu. Yet, when it comes to a great Italian meal, Dino’s Pizza delivers. 

Customers flock to Dino’s for their great vodka sauce, their signature Chicken Francese, and a sliced steak salad topped with walnuts and berries. And they keep coming back, according to Gino DiMeo, who co-owns the restaurant with his older brother Frank. 

Dino’s opened in 1975, but the story goes back to the 1960s when Frank had a pizza place in Greenwich Village. Gino worked there when he was 14-years-old, cleaning tables. After school he’d travel on the subway from Brooklyn to the Village. It prepared him for the restaurant business. 

When Dino’s first opened up, Gino said there were no other pizza shops. Nevertheless, their customers keep returning. “Treat the customers right, give them great food, a great price, they’ll come back,” he said. Even during the pandemic, Dino’s thrived. 

“We did good with take-out. It was pretty damn good!” Gino said enthusiastically. 

What Gino feels sets Dino’s apart from the competition is having a good product, which is sourced from Ferraro Foods Distribution in Piscataway. “Good Italian tomatoes, an excellent cheese, good pasta, good sauce. Our prices are competitive, but we haven’t cut back on the portions.” 

Of all the dishes offered, Gino loves the Chicken Francese. “It’s one of my go-to dishes when I’m hungry,” he said, adding that he also enjoys the spaghetti carbonara. All dishes are made from scratch. And once a year they will change the menu, adding or taking away. 

He also points out that jumping on the bandwagon with gluten free food or vegan food is too intricate. In spite of the current popularity of gluten free options, to do it right is very intricate. Cross contamination is a real concern for a truly sensitive customer. Our kitchen, est. 1975, does not have the “separate kitchen” requirements to certify gluten free.

Dino’s target audience is a more mature—and loyal—crowd. Gino said, “Longtime folks that come to eat here, now it’s to a point where their kids are coming in. We have customers that have been coming here since day one. They come in with their kids and grandkids.” 

What’s also low-key about Dino’s is they have no liquor license. However, by being BYOB, it’s cheaper for the customers. “A lot of people like that,” Gino said. “A couple of nights ago we had a party of fifteen. They had seven or eight bottles of wine. That would have been another three or four hundred added to the bill.”

Dino’s attracts new customers with the help of their website and social media pages. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram. “They’ll read what other customers say. It gives people an idea of the pricing,” he said. 

Though having a packed house is easy for Dino’s some of the challenges that come with the restaurant business is finding help and keeping help according to Gino. But for the past seven or eight years, they’ve had the same staff. “We’ve been lucky,” he said. “You treat the people right. They work. You pay them well and there’s no issue. We’ve had the same people for the longest time.” In addition to having a great staff of 11, during the pandemic no one got sick. Gino’s wife and sister-in-law also help out. 

When asked about trends in the restaurant industry, Gino didn’t have to think twice. “Buffalo everything,” he offered. “Buffalo Chicken, Buffalo Pasta. Everyone wants Buffalo. The new kids, they love the stuff. We sell a lot.” In fact, Jersey Girl Brewery chose Dino’s for having the best Buffalo Pizza a few years ago. But it’s Buffalo Pizza is not something Gino personally goes for, as he’s more into traditional pizza or a mushroom pie. 

When Gino’s not working, if the weather is nice, he enjoys playing golf or fishing. He also likes to spend time at home and do things around the house. Or he’ll go out with his wife. He appreciates a good burger at Fuddruckers. 

Dino’s is located at 100 US Highway 46, Ste. 17, Budd Lake. 

Visit them at: www.dinospizzabuddlake.com/

 

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