Carlo D’Arpa grew up in Armando’s Pizza after his dad bought it from its original owners in 1968.
In 2006, he became owner of the longest family-owned-and-operated Pizzeria in Canarsie, which is famous for its Sicilian-style pizza.
“It has a fluffy, thick crust with a lot of sauce and cheese,” he said. “It’s very popular, and looks heavy but it’s light.”
Though D’Arpa was born and raised in Queens, he spent a lot of time in Canarsie as a child at the pizzeria with his father, and now as owner and chef.
He recently opened another location in Bushwick, and has an Armando’s Kitchen at 1345 Rockaway Parkway.
How would you best describe Canarsie?
It has a little of everything; whatever you're looking for you'll find it there, [such as] a variety of food, and it’s very mixed. It’s all about family in Canarsie; a lot of people know each from the neighborhood. It is a small town. And the rents are still cheap.
What’s a favorite childhood memory of Canarsie?
Going to the Canarsie Pier. We would take a ride there get out of the car and watch the boats go by. And there used to be a place called The Bread Box on Farragut Road and East 92nd Street. I could still taste the raisin bread they used to make. It was amazing when you walked in there. You could smell the bread from a block away.
Is there anything in Canarsie you’d like to see improve?
I think we should have street fairs. For a couple of years I considered one for two blocks of Rockaway Parkway but it never happened. It would be nice to get the local businesses involved and to showcase the food because there’s so much different food here. A lot of people won’t walk into a pizzeria because they’ve never had it but at a street fair it’s out there and people might be more willing to try different things. Every business gets exposed.