Log In

Reset Password

Lehighton business, Pizza Como owner dies

The patriarch of a popular business that has flourished in Lehighton for over half-a-century has entered into eternal rest.

Salvatore Caruso, the founding father of Pizza Como USA in the Carbon Plaza Mall, passed away April 6.

Caruso, of Palermo, Italy, was 87. He was predeceased by his longtime wife, Rosalia Caruso, who passed away in 2019.

In short, Caruso passed away after “his heart gave out on him,” according to his grandson Torey Caruso, manager, Pizza Como USA.

Torey said his grandfather was in Palermo, Italy and was supposed to fly home to the U.S. The day before, he wasn’t feeling well and went into the hospital.

“They did some stuff (for) him, sent him home, he was feeling better,” Torey said. “He got pneumonia, went back to the hospital, and they sent him back home.”

Torey said a few days later his grandfather looked weak, run down, and said he wasn’t feeling well, so his uncle took him back to the hospital.

Torey said the doctors were going to put a pacemaker in, but his grandfather’s heart gave out on him.

Caruso left behind two sons, one daughter, multiple grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

Hard worker

Torey said that despite his age, his grandfather was still driving.

“He just basically out-thinks anybody,” he said. “Like he couldn’t be stopped.”

Torey said his grandfather, who previously resided in Lehighton and most recently Staten Island, New York, founded Pizza Como USA in 1972.

Torey said his grandfather started in New York, made his way through Pennsylvania, and had a pizza shop in Palmerton. He then came to Lehighton, where he had Pizza Como, Caruso’s (now Sapore Restaurant), and the Mattress Firm building where the Mahoning Plaza is he built.

“He came here with his family trying to give them a better life,” Torey said. “He worked so hard; all he ever knew was work, work, work.

“He always said you can’t get anywhere in life without hard work, dedication, and putting your all into things. He was very old-school, very hands-on, very business-minded, and fiercely cared about his family.”

Torey said his grandfather was a “pillar of the community,” and a “people person.”

“He was always helping out, giving whatever he could to the community and his neighbors,” he said. “Pizza Como was like his baby, one of his kids.

Keeping the legacy alive

Torey, who has been involved exclusively with the business for about the past 15 years, and worked at the business even before that, described what it was like to have Salvatore as his grandfather.

“Being his grandson, it was great,” he said. “As a kid, he was very loving and caring, just for all of us; his grandkids were the most important thing to him.

“To us, he was this giant. If one guy could get the job done, it was him. Him and my grandmother, both.

Torey said he plans to make it his mission to continue to make his grandfather proud of the business that he started up back in 1972.

“I think of doing things the way he would have done them,” he said. “I learned from watching and learned as I went and tried to the do the best to replicate the success (of) him and my dad (Nino, the owner of Pizza Como USA).”

Torey stresses that both his grandfather and father have always gone out of their way to assist their neighbors and the community.

“They both did whatever they could to help them with anything in the community; they couldn’t say no,” he said. “They did it because that’s who they are.”

Torey noted the huge imprint his grandfather has left behind.

“He’s left a legacy,” he said. “We’re in our third generation.

“I hope that the business (we) can keep it going for another 50 years. Keep serving and doing for the community what they’ve done for the last 50.”

Salvatore Caruso, shown with his wife, Rosalia Caruso. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO