A Corleone Pizza sits on the counter inside the restaurant. (Photo by Albert Rende.)
A Corleone Pizza sits on the counter inside the restaurant. (Photo by Albert Rende.)
Marcello Mandreucci stands outside Pizza-Grill.com, his restaurant located at 45 George Dye Road in Hamilton Square. (Photo by Albert Rende.)
Marcello Mandreucci stands outside Pizza-Grill.com, his restaurant located at 45 George Dye Road in Hamilton Square. (Photo by Albert Rende.)

The legend of the Corleone-style pizza arrives in Mercer County

By Jessica Oates

Most people are familiar with New York and Chicago style pizzas, but Mercer County residents have a new style to consider thanks to Pizza-Grill.com owner Marcello Mandreucci.

Mandreucci calls it the Coreleone pizza, a 12-slice, deep dish, thin-crust pizza with a sweeter red sauce. It’s a style he says he has favored since he was a boy in Italy.

Mandreucci came to the United States from Sicily in 1979, at 16. Four years later, in 1983, he opened his first pizzeria in Carteret, followed by an Italian restaurant in Bordentown called Marcello’s, which is still exists under different ownership.

Next, he bought a pizzeria in Atlantic City, which is run by Mandreucci’s brother and business partner, Antonio. Mandreucci and his 19-year-old daughter Gabriella—who Mandreucci calls “the boss”—manage the Pizza-Grill.com location in Hamilton and smaller take-out location in Trenton. The business is a physical eatery, which happens to share its name with its website. The restaurant is take-out only, and offers delivery for residents within a 3-mile radius of its George Dye Road location.

The newest offering on Pizza-Grill.com’s menu is the Corleone pizza. Mandreucci said he has patented the recipe, which he claims has been a secret for decades and was given to him by an old man. The man, Mandreucci said, would travel from Corleone, Sicily to Mandreucci’s town of Carini every Saturday selling slices of the pie.

“I sat on the curb with the others and ate my slice, but I would stay behind after my friends had left and got to know the man,” Mandreucci said. “I admired his kindness and enjoyed every bite of his wonderful pizza.”

After many years and a move to the United States, Mandreucci eventually went back to visit the old man in Corleone.

“He said to me, ‘Marcello, I knew you would come back to see me,’” Mandruecci said. “I spent the day with him and his family, listening to his stories about his children, grandchildren, and his love for the pizza he made.”

The man finally gave Mandreucci his recipe, making him promise not to use it until the man had died. True to his word, Mandreucci kept the recipe a secret, only unveiling the Corleone pizza after his mentor’s passing.

Mandreucci said because it requires special preparation, the Corleone pizza is only available Thursday-Sunday and must be ordered ahead of time.

“We have had people travel from other cities to try the Corleone, and they love it,” he said. “An old woman came in, teary-eyed, and told us that the pizza reminded her of home. People say all the time that it ‘tastes like how grandma used to make it.”

Mandreucci imports his cheese and oregano for the Corleone pizza from Sicily, in order to keep his recipe as authentic as possible. He said he has received special recognition and a plaque from the mayor of Corleone for honoring the small Sicilian town.

The pizza chef and business owner is also something of an inventor. He holds two pizza-related patents: one for his Corleone-style pizza, and another for a pizza box that unfolds into a serving tray.

He calls his large, rotating pizza oven the “Cadillac of all ovens,” and can bake 24 pizzas in seven minutes at a time, so that customers don’t have to wait long for their orders.

“People love the pizza,” Gabriella Mandreucci said.

Pizza-Grill.com is located at 45 George Dye Road in Hamilton Square. Phone: (609) 586-5770. Web: pizza-grill.com.