LARGO, Fla. -- Don’t ask Santo Sardo to put gimmicky toppings on his pizza.
“You want buffalo chicken on a pizza? Go to KFC," said Sardo. "Leave me alone!”
And don’t get him started on some pizza chains’ novelty flavors.
“I had somebody call me up this morning and ask me what kind of crust I had," said Sardo. "I hung up on them!”
Like his native Brooklyn neighborhood, the owner of Sardo’s Pizza in Largo can be tough, fast and very funny in a Don Rickles-watch-your-head way.
“This isn’t McDonalds where you use 600 napkins,” Sardo tells customers. “Here you use one napkin and that’s it!”
But Sardo, who started making pizzas when he was five years of age when he got his hand stuck in a dough machine, is also a softie. Really!
“I lost my sister Stella to breast cancer eleven years ago," said Sardo. "Every year since I’ve had to do something. When you lose somebody, it’s not just that one person you lost – the whole family is affected.”
Last year, he and his loyal customers donated more than one hundred bikes to a local charity. To honor his sister this year he is raising money and gathering pantry food for Suncoast Hospice.
Donate $50 or more and Sardo will give you a free large cheese pizza. Just don’t expect much more.
“I’m not going to ask people to help, I’m going to tell them to help," said Sardo. "They have no choice!”
You can bring items for Suncoast Hospice’s food pantry to his pizzeria. Sardo is hoping to fill a giant POD container he put out front. You can also donate money which Sardo will use to help buy a bladder scanner for Suncoast Hospice’s medical side.
And you can stay for Sardo’s made-from-scratch Italian delights which he bakes with joy and love for his clientele.
Just don’t call him a nice guy.
“I care about what I do. I care about what I say. I care about my food," said Sardo. "But a nice guy? I dunno.”