John Arena to give a keynote address at Pizza Expo
John Arena is a third-generation pizza chef that’s been pushing out pizza dough for more than 48 years, and is the co-owner and co-founder of Metro Pizza, a pizzeria in Las Vegas with 7 locations. They’ve won countless local and national awards and acclaim, including being named one of the Top 10 pizzerias in the U.S. by Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby in their book “Everybody Loves Pizza, featured on “Entertainment Tonight” and “Live with Regis and Kathy Lee,” and listed as one of the 10 best pizzerias in America by USA Today. John Arena has been called the don of dough, the sultan of sauce, and the prince of pizza by the Las Vegas Review Journal, not to mention, he’s also a worldwide ambassador and elder statesman for the pizza industry.
John and his cousin and business partner, Sam Facchini, started working together in their uncle’s Long Island pizzeria as dishwashers before they were even teenagers. They even had to split their wages, but it was the beginning of a great partnership that has lasted for over 55 years.
After graduating college and working entry level jobs in their fields of study they decided to follow their passion for pizza and open a pizzeria. They also knew it had to be somewhere else other than their beloved New York City. Their big break came when Sam’s father showed them an ad from a local Italian-language newspaper advertising a pizzeria for sale in Las Vegas. Although it took a while for them to make the call, eventually they would sell almost everything they had, including their cars to come up with enough money for the down payment, which meant they didn’t have any transportation, or money left for travel expenses, so the ever-resourceful cousins found a service to drive a car to LA. They loaded it up and by the weekend they had an apartment to live in, although without any furniture.
The previous pizzeria owner didn’t even tell them how to turn on the lights at the Original New York Pizza location located at Flamingo and Sandhill roads, which at that time was home to notable politicians and government officials, world-famous entertainers, crime bosses and mobsters who were all part of their diverse clientele. For more than 43 years Metro Pizza has been a Las Vegas institution and has been voted Best Las Vegas Pizzeria of All-Time.
Customer service has been the cornerstone of their success and longevity. Both John and Sam will do almost anything their customers ask for, from adding a new menu item upon request to ordering and delivering groceries for a customer in need. They have over time perfected or strived to perfect the pizza dining experience where eating pizza is shared experience with community and nostalgia and negotiating what you want to eat.
John has traveled extensively throughout Italy and the world and has mastered many styles of pizza along the way. He also knows the history of pizza and has taught a pizza-making at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as well as trained pizza makers throughout the United States and the world, including Korea, China, and Brazil. John has a great saying that is a testament to who is and what he stands for: “collaborators, not competitors,” enough said. He’ll bring an undeniable passion and knowledge of the craft and the tales of success to his Tuesday morning keynote address.
I like to think that attending Pizza Expo will be one of, if not the best, investments of time and money that you’ll make this year. The bottom line is there’s always something new at Pizza Expo that can improve your restaurant. Remember, attending Pizza Expo is a tax-deductible working vacation. For more information on attending International Pizza Expo 2024, please visit PizzaExpo.com.
It’s all pizza and it’s all for YOU!
Group Show Director