If you hear cheering when you walk in Italian Pizzeria III, don’t be startled – the UNC basketball team or an Italian football team probably just scored. Two things are guarantee to happen when you go for dinner at IP3. There’s going to be some sporting event playing on the TVs and you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome by Vinny or Angelo Marrone whether it’s your first visit or fiftieth. Olive Garden may have used the phrase “When you’re here, you’re family,” but it really applies at IP3 given how friendly they are and their knack for remembering repeat customers’ orders. The Naples, Italy-born brothers serve up some of the best Italian dishes this side of the Atlantic using family recipes and the pizzeria is a favorite with students, families and Tar Heel athletes (they’ve got walls of autographs and photos rivaling Sutton’s). Today they celebrate 35 years of business with an outdoor party across the street in the TOPO Distillery parking lot with live music and a DJ, facepainting, giveaways, and of course, some IP3 pie.
We caught up with Vinny and Angelo before the party and talked Carolina basketball, customers and the secret to their popular pizza.
What’s the best part of working with your family? Everything. We love to work together. [There’s] nothing better than to work with a brother. It gave us trust and security.
What’s the most popular item on the menu? Any kind of pizza. The favorite one is the Margherita Pizza.
What makes your pizza different than the rest? The quality of dough … We use fresh ingredients.
What’s the biggest thing that’s changed in 35 years? Every year we have more business. People recognize the name Ip3.
What do you credit for being able to run a successful business on Franklin Street for 35 years? We love to work for Chapel Hill. Every day is a new day and an opportunity to do the best for your customers.
What do you love most about your customers? The friendship and the loyalty.
What game has you more nervous: a UNC/Duke game or an Italian soccer team versus a rival? The UNC/Duke.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the since opening IP3? Be focused on what you are doing. And love the customers like your family.
How has the menu changed in 35 years? We offer now more pasta, different kind of pizzas and more appetizers.
Do you have any favorite memories over the years? We were like family with the team of 2005-2006. We are such great friends like Marcus Ginyard and Tyler Hansbrough.