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How it all began

Villa Pizza: a New York Original Since 1964

Michele Scotto founded Villa Pizza when he set out to realize his own American Dream. His natural skills for hospitality, savvy entrepreneurism, and a mentality to never accept ‘No’, were the forces behind Villa’s early success, and are still part of VRG’s cultural fabric today.

What started in 1964 as a tiny pizzeria next to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City has grown into an international organization with a portfolio of over twenty quick service and full service restaurant brands.

View VRG's timeline


  • September 17, 1964

    Villa was founded with the opening of its first location in New York City next door to the Ed Sullivan Theater. The inaugural location was opened under the name 'Michele's Pizza'.

  • 1977

    VRG began to grow with the popularity of malls, opening its first mall location in Rockaway, NJ.

  • 1980

    Pizza Today Magazine listed Villa as 1st in the Fastest Growing Category.

  • 1994

    In an exciting milestone, Villa Italian Kitchen made a debut at Orlando International Airport, serving up their signature slices to travelers from around the world. The excitement didn't stop there – the same year, they earned a well-deserved spotlight in Pizza Today Magazine, showcasing their dedication to crafting exceptional pizza experiences. Cheers to Villa Italian Kitchen's airport adventure and their slice of fame in the pizza world!

  • 1996

    Going back to its roots, Villa opened its first international location in Naples, Italy.

  • 1999

    VRG acquired Cozzoli’s Pizzeria, significantly aiding its franchise community growth.

  • 2003

    VRG acquired Everything Yogurt Brands, marking the beginnings of its Green Leaf's and Bananas brands, along with South Philly Cheesesteak & Fries.

  • 2004

    Celebrating its 40th anniversary, VRG opened its flagship location in the heart of Times Square, in New York City.

  • 2007

    VRG added a full-service division to its portfolio with the acquisition of The Black Horse Tavern & Pub, New Jersey’s oldest continually running restaurant dating back to 1742.

  • 2009

    Sands Casino Resort, now Wind Creek Bethlehem, in Bethlehem, PA: VRG took over the entire food court operation, as well as the full-service restaurant and buffet, with the opening of eight restaurants, marking the first of what would become many major multi-unit operations.

  • 2011

    VRG acquired an iconic New Jersey chain in The Office Beer Bar and Grill, embarking on a multi-year journey to reposition the brand.

  • 2013

    With the opening of its newest full-service concept Piattino Neighborhood Bistro, VRG’s full-service division was officially branded as 40North Restaurants, taking its name based on the common linear parallel of Naples, Italy, and Morristown, NJ, at 40° North Latitude.

  • September 17, 2014

    VRG celebrated its 50th birthday!

  • 2015

    Villa Italian Kitchen was inducted into the Pizza Hall of Fame.

  • 2016

    VRG’s multi-unit operations grew with the opening of five restaurants at Orlando International Airport.

  • 2019

    Continuing its long history of operations at Newark Liberty International Airport, VRG opened four locations in Terminal B: three quick-service restaurants pre-security and one full-service restaurant, Piattino Neighborhood Bistro, post-security. This Piattino opening marked two firsts for the 40North division: the first airport location and the first franchise location.

  • 2020

    VRG was part of LaGuardia Airport’s historic opening of the Terminal B Headhouse. Despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, VRG remained unwavering in its commitments and ability to open the City Eats Food Hall.

  • 2023

    VRG's opening of seven locations at Newark Airport in the brand new Terminal A marked a significant milestone. The project also showcased their first locations with Starbucks and Shake Shack, which were the first of many multi-unit deals, as well as a noteworthy first for their Office and Town brands within an airport.