Where the Walls Are Filled with Memories
Wellesley native Joe Perdoni Jr. has filled Old School Pizza with an amazing assortment of sports, music and cultural memorabilia.
At Old School Pizza in Wellesley Square, there’s a whole lot more than homemade sauce and dough.
There’s an old jukebox in the front window alongside vintage gas pumps.
There’s an original Beatles Abby Road album cover, a hand-me-down from owner Joe Perdoni Jr.’s mom.
A framed Sports Illustrated magazine cover from May 1972 previewing the Stanley Cup finals with Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito beside the headline “Boston’s Big Guns,” which the Bruins of course went on to win in six games.
Another autographed Sports Illustrated cover features Celtics Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, and there are photos and autographs from Red Sox greats.
There’s plenty of Patriot’s memorabilia as well, including an autographed poster featuring the defense that won a couple Super Bowls and included Ty Law, Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi.
There are movie posters, photos of Elvis, the Brat Pack, the Supremes, the Doors, the Kinks and a guitar signed by Guns ‘N Roses.
Look closely and you’ll also find clues to Perdoni’s personal history as well.
A four-inch binder that once contained the offense of the Georgia Tech Ramblinwreck football team, where he played tight end and guard, a poster of him in his #86 Wellesley High School Red Raiders football uniform, and a white frisbee handed out by former Wellesley state representative John Locke’s election campaign back in the late 1980s.
“That was from when I was a kid,” Perdoni, 34, said with a laugh.
Perdoni had been keeping the memorabilia in his Francis Road home.
Needless to say his wife wasn’t sad to see it moved to Old School, a restaurant he has been thinking about opening his whole life.
It’s not always easy living your dream, however.
For Perdoni, it’s been 17 hour days that don’t end until midinight. It’s missing his two kids and worrying about all the details.
But less than three months after the doors to Old School opened, he says it’s been worth the effort.
“It’s been great,” he said.
Perdoni opened Old School at the location formerly occupied by College Square Pizza. When that business closed last summer, the 34-year-old Wellesley native got thinking.
“I’ve always loved to cook,” said Perdoni, whose mother’s Armenian heritage and father’s Italian heritage made for an interesting cultural balance in the kitchen.
“I learned to cook all kinds of things and I always thought about opening a restaurant,” he said.
So seeing the vacancy next to the White Mountain Creamery, he called his friend Robert Palizzolo whose Tutto Italiano market and restaurant are on the corner of the same block, and the two got working.
With Palizzolo’s help getting things started and up and running, Perdoni said he’s business has been steady.
“I saw the opportunity to do it, and I did it,” he said.
Perdoni goes into Boston most mornings to shop for the fresh produce, cheese and meat he uses to cook everything from scratch. All the pizzas, salads and sandwiches are made to order.
The pizza sauce and dough are old recipes he says he’s worked on over the years, and the mozzarella is grated by hand every morning.
“It’s really important to me that we use the freshest and best ingredients,” he said.
Perdoni gets help at Old School from his wife and members of his extended family, more than 100 of whom live in Wellesley. His grandfather came to town from Italy and worked for the Department of Public Works and his father graduated from WHS in 1966.
Perdoni left a job in sales and marketing to take the leap into the restaurant business, and he’s been working seven days a week to make sure it is successful.
He’s hoping once things get settled, he’ll be able to taper back to a more reasonable work week so he can spend more time with his kids, Joey, a kindergartener at Sprague, and four-year-old Reece who is at PAWS.
“I think customers will understand,” he said.